Ajaib (Jab) Sidhoo was born on January 8, 1923 in the Punjab, India, when it was still ruled by Britain. Due to his father’s protestation against high British taxes on farmland in India, Jab’s father relocated to Vancouver Island in 1927, where he worked in the Kapoor sawmill. Jab was sent to join him in 1929, accompanied not by family but by Mrs. Doman from his village.
After a number of years residing amongst the Island’s lumber mills, the Sidhoo family moved to Kitsilano in the late 1930s and Jab attended Kitsilano High School in 1939, where he played on the school rugby team. In 1941, he transferred to Vancouver Technical High School to learn a trade. In 1943 he was one of three students from his class recruited by the Canadian Air Force, becoming one of the first South-Asian Canadians to serve in World War II. He was trained in aircraft maintenance and worked as a fleet mechanic at bases in Caron, Saskatchewan and in the Yukon.
After the war Jab founded East India Traders in Vancouver as a wholesaler for imported carpets and goods. He spent time in India training in the profession, and it was there that he met his future wife Nirmal Dutt (also known as Munni). They married in India in 1950 then returned to Vancouver, eventually having two children, Asha and Ravi. Jab’s business also expanded as his client base grew to include hotel chains, banks and other successful professionals. He renamed his business East India Carpets and opened a retail location at 1606 West 2nd Avenue in 1962, where it remains a fixture in the community.
An avid sports fan, Jab was one of the original 100 investors of the BC Lions in 1953 and became a lifelong season ticket holder. He also amassed a considerable collection of football-themed newspapers and magazines, as well as souvenir programs from games in the 1950s and 1960s.
Together, Jab and Munni were active in their community and involved in philanthropic ventures, such as the Ajaib (Jab) and Nirmal (Munni) Sidhoo Charities Fund which sponsors medical scholarships and schools. Munni died on November 14, 2001. Jab passed away on February 22, 2016 at the age of 93. His archive, much of which is digitized here, consists of photographs, documents, sports memorabilia, ephemera and objects detailing all aspects of his life as a first generation Canadian, and the communities in which he lived and worked. The finding aid for the Ajaib (Jab) Sidhoo fonds is available through SFU Atom.
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Images from the Ajaib (Jab) Sidhoo fonds are made available by Simon Fraser University Library under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial license. A full legal outline of the license can be viewed at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/legalcode. We encourage the appropriate open use of images from this collection for educational and other not-for-profit purposes. Attribution/citation should be provided as follows:
Image [insert image number here, eg. MsC178-021] courtesy of the Ajaib (Jab) Sidhoo Collection, a digital initiative of Simon Fraser University Library. [Please include the website url when images are used in an offline or print-based context].
Parties interested in using high-resolution versions of the images from the Ajaib (Jab) Sidhoo Collection for commercial purposes should contact Special Collections and Rare Books, SFU Library.
SFU Special Collections and Rare Books gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by Asha Fraser, Ravi Sidhoo and family to make this collection available online.
Contributed by Special Collections and Rare Books, Simon Fraser University Library.