Punjabi Market, Vancouver

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The Punjabi Market (Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕਿਟ) is a commercial district and ethnic enclave in Vancouver, British Columbia. Officially recognized by the city as being primarily a major Indo-Canadian business community and cultural area, the Punjabi District is roughly a six block section of Main Street around 49th Avenue in the Sunset neighbourhood.


The first Indo-Canadian immigrants from Punjab landed in Vancouver in the 1890s.[1] The first Indian settlement is said to have come by the name of Paldi after a village near Hoshiarpur in Punjab. They settled down in Kitsilano near First Avenue and Burrard Street and were believed to have worked in lumber mills and at construction sites throughout the Lower Mainland.

East Indians who later immigrated to Vancouver are believed to have suffered the same treatment given to the Chinese (Chinatown) and Japanese (Japantown). They were subject to the bias and animosities of the predominantly Anglo-Saxon majority and occupied distinct and discrete quarters of the city.

Most of the new residents sought established homes and to earn reasonably secure incomes. They settled in the area near 49th Avenue and Main Street and many established restaurants and businesses there and throughout the city to make a living. The settlers brought with them distinctive habits and attitudes that influenced the choice of food, work and recreational activity. Over time, the area has become predominantly Indo-Canadian and has blossomed into the ethnic enclave of today.

Punjabi District[edit]

Over the years the neighbourhood has become increasingly popular among the estimated greater than 160,000 South Asian residents in the city as a focal point for culture and commerce. There are a number of Indian restaurants, sweet shops, and grocers representing cuisine from varying parts of the subcontinent; as well as other businesses that cater to an Indo-Canadian community and tourists alike. The market has become a shopping destination for many weddings because of the numerous Indian ethnic clothing and bridal goods that are available. There is also a significant number of jewelry stores lining the strip, said to be the highest concentration of jewellers in the nation.[2]

India Gate[edit]

The city of Vancouver selected the intersection of Main Street and 50th Avenue to become the location for the first India Gate of any North American city. Local leaders believe the entrance will enhance tourism in the city while also providing recognition to the historic community, in a similar way that Millennium Gate in Chinatown has done for Chinese Canadians.[3]

The $3 million project was slated for completion in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Current progress on the project is unknown.


The local Sikh Temple celebrates Vaisakhi each year in April. Festivities include a parade, where over 200,000 people come together from to celebrate the birth of the Sikh religion. Many restaurants and households near the strip offer local food tasting and other goods during the event.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indians Abroad". The Times Of India. 2008-04-19. 
  2. ^ http://www.vancouver.com/shopping/punjabi_markets/
  3. ^ "$3-million India Gate to be built in Punjabi Market". SikhNet. 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 

External links[edit]

  • Punjabi Market Association