1893 December 5
Born in Mahilpur, Dist Hoshiarpur Punjab

1903 March
Married to Pritam Kaur

Leaves for Canada

full timeline


Punjab c. 1900


Punjab literally means the land of five rivers and that aptly describes the Sikh homeland which lies along the tributaries of the mighty Indus River in South Asia. The boundaries of Punjab at the turn of the 20th century extended from the Himalayan mountains of Attock near Peshawar in the north, to Delhi in the south, to Dera Gazi Khan near the Indus River delta in the west to the Kangra Valley neighboring Kashmir in the east. This was the Punjab at the turn of the 20th century when Buckam Singh was born.

Buckam Singh was born on December 5, 1893 at Mahilpur in the Hoshiarpur District of Punjab. His father was Badan Singh Bains and his mother was Candi Kaur.

At age 10 on March 1903 Buckam was married to his wife Pritam Kaur of Jamsher in the Jullundhur District of Punjab. It was common in Sikh families at the time to arrange the marriage of their children at a young age. Although married at a young age, the couple would typically not be allowed to see each other or live together until they had reached adult hood when a ceremony called Muklawa would be performed to formally consummate the marriage. Pritam Kaur's father was Bhagwan Singh Gill and her grandfather was Nihal Singh Gill.

Today Buckam Singh's home town of Mahilpur has a population of 10,000 and is known for soccer games in the Hoshiarpur region. It is located along the Hoshiarpur Chandigarh road 23 Km from Hoshiarpur town and most of the population are farmers. Jamsher town is a small settlement about 5 km from the Nakodar-Lohian road. By road, Jamsher is about 15 km from the town of Jalandhar and 14 km from Phagwara.

modern map of mahilpur and jamsher


35th Sikhs, Sudan c.1886


Sikh Diamond Jubilee
Attendant London, c.1897

The Sikh military tradition dates back to the time of the founders of their religion with the 6th Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind (1595 to 1644) when Sikhs fought their first battles against Mughal oppression. With the annexation of the large Sikh Empire of Lahore in 1851, the highly skilled Sikh soldiers were quickly integrated into the British Indian Army and proved invaluable and loyal during the 1858 sepoy mutiny. Sikh regiments during the 19th century served in the British army in battlefields around the world including Sudan, fighting slave traders in Central Africa, in Persia and the Middle East, China, Burma, Maylasia as well as the mountains of the Afghan frontier. Most of the early Sikh immigrants to Canada were ex-military soldiers.

The first Sikhs to visit Canada were soldiers who had been invited to attend the the celebrations of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in London in 1887. They traveled by railway across Canada and fell in love with the majestic landscape, rich vegetation and fertile farmland of Canada which reminded them in many ways of their Punjab homeland. Once back in Punjab, news spread fast and soon the first Sikhs set sail for a new life in Canada. Buckam Singh joined these early pioneers and at the young age of 14 left for Canada in 1907.