8603 38 Avenue, Edmonton
Sohan Singh Bhullar Park is an ornamental park in Millwoods at 8603 38 Avenue named after Sohan Singh Bhullar (1882- 1968), one of the early immigrants to Canada and Edmonton from India. His marriage with Effie Jones, an African Canadian from the U.S. in the early 1920s was unique for that time. Together they supported many South Asians immigrants and students in Edmonton in the 1950s and 1960s.
According to the City records, Sohan Singh Bhullarcame to Canada in 1900 from the agricultural province of Punjab, India when he was just 18 years old. He moved to Alberta in 1907. His time in Canada began as a farm labourer and gradually he made a career in agriculture by securing farmlands. Until 1953 he lived and worked in Green Court, Noyes Crossing and Calahoo. He finally settled in Edmonton in 1953 at a time when very few South Asians chose to live here.
Sohan Singh’s marriage with Effie Jones in 1926, an African Canadian whose family had moved from the U.S. and settled on a farm in the Athabasca region, was quite modern but not unusual for an Indian Sikh. They remained close together until their deaths in 1968 and had seven children together. Effie adopted the Indian culture, language and culinary skills and supported Sohan Singh in his community work. Their family home at 112 Street and 87 Avenue in Edmonton was a popular place for newcomers and students from South Asia.
Effie accompanied Sohan Singh to India. The attached picture shows Effie, dressed in the traditional salwaar kameez, seated in Bhullar’s family home courtyard in Punjab. They returned to Edmonton in 1964 and kept on working for the community. Sohan Singh died on November 30, 1968 and Effie died a month later.
Seventeen years later, Bhullar Park was opened in his memory. However, the history and identity of Sohan Singh Bhullar was gradually lost among hundreds of people with similar surnames now living in Edmonton. To better honor his memory, the City renamed the park to Sohan Singh Bhullar in June 2013.
- Research and writing by Poushali Mitra (firstname.lastname@example.org)