Punjabi Population in Canada

Punjabi Canadians number roughly 668,240 people and account for nearly 2% of Canada’s population. Their heritage originates wholly or partly in Punjab. The largest Punjabi communities in Canada are situated in British Columbia, concentrated in Vancouver, and Ontario, particularly in Toronto.

History

Late 19th century

Punjabi Sikhs in Vancouver, 1908

In 1897, the first persons of Punjabi origin visited British Columbia. They were soldiers transiting from India to the United Kingdom during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The Punjabis ultimately became the first South Asian-origin group to settle in Canada.

In the 20th century

In 1900, the population of Punjabis in Canada increased to 100. By 1906, this number increased to 1,500. The vast majority were Sikhs and came from Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ferozpur, and Ludhiana.

Punjabi Sikhs aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914

Punjabis were later faced by one of the most iconic racial exclusion acts in Canadian history. In 1914, The Komagata Maru, a steamliner carrying 376 passengers from Punjab docked in Vancouver. Of them, 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 passengers were not allowed to disembark in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India. The passengers comprised 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus.

In the 21st century

By the 1985s, the traditional Punjabi immigration patterns began to shift. Ontario soon became an important center of immigration to Canada. Large Punjabi populations began to appear across the Greater Toronto Area. Later in the 1990s, Alberta became another important immigration destination for Punjabis. Most concentrated in Edmonton and Calgary. In addition, Punjabi is the third most spoken language of the Parliament of Canada.

Punjabi Population in Canada By Graph Table

Province20162011 2001
British Columbia244,485213,315135,310
Ontario282,065238,130104,790
Alberta90,48562,81523,470
Manitoba22,90012,5555,485
Quebec17,86014,4808,225
Saskatchewan8,3003,250495
Nova Scotia1,010800265
Newfoundland and Labrador485115130
New Brunswick20511590
Prince Edward Island185150
Yukon150105105
Northwest Territories1052045
Nunavut15150
Canada668,240545,730319,802

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