New Re-Enactor: Sarjit 'Mac' Singh
The Process for Bringing a Character to Life
Sarjit Mac Singh is a notable figure in Surrey’s past. Not only was he one of the first South Asian Surrey citizen to own a commercial farming operation (Cloverdale Produce), but he also became Chair of the Surrey Damming and Dyking Commission and an advisor to the Minister of Agriculture in Victoria. A farmer at heart, he and Bob Bose were also named Dominion Cup Potato Judging Champions in 1950. He was a Surrey trailblazer, marrying a Caucasian woman in 1956 and challenging race barriers both personally and professionally.
- 1906 - Sarjit Singh’s father, Waryam (Biram) Singh arrives in Canada via Hong Kong.
- 1927 - Biram Singh returns to India to marry Karum-Kaur. It is the first year Indian women are allowed to immigrant to Canada. The couple does so, on a 60 day voyage.
- 1929 - Sarjit Singh is born.
- 1937 - The Singh family moves to 2nd and Burrard in Vancouver. Their neighborhood is very culturally diverse but has many ‘turf wars.’ Unlike his brothers who avoid the confrontation, Sarjit Singh walks right through other ‘territories.’ Sarjit takes on the nickname “Mac”.
- 1938 - Wayram moves the family to a safer area, purchasing a farm on 184th between 32nd and 40th in Surrey. 1943 – Mac is forced to quit school to work on the farm.
- 1956 – Mac married Gerritje (Gerrie) Elyzen.
- 1959 – Mac and Gerrie welcome their first child, Ron.
- 1961 – They have their second child, Thelma.
- 1962 – Their third child is born, Timothy.
- 1978 – Mac passes away.
It started with a simple phone call to Mac’s wife, Gerrie. At 83, she was eager to share stories and photos with the City of Surrey Heritage Re-Enactment Coordinator, Yvette Dudley- Neuman. Gerrie connected Dudley-Neuman with Mac’s younger brother, George. The group met for hours of storytelling and nostalgia. They ultimately connected Dudley-Neuman with Mac’s other brother, Sucha, who provided hours of incredible oral history about his brother, their childhood and their family.
Finally, a conversation with Bob Bose uncovered what Mac was like as a young entrepreneur and the details of their adventurous tour to the Royal Winter Fair in Ontario. With that, the story had been told.
Re-Creating a Surrey Legend
Equipped with a true sense of Mac, Dudley-Neuman set to work drafting scripts. Once complete, she invited the Singh family to a reading. 12 family members came for what turned out to be a four hour reminiscing session about Mac. With their blessing, our new Re-Enactor character is born.
Heritage Services thanks Sucha Gill, Gerrie Singh and the entire Singh family for their time, as well as their permission to share the story of their beloved Mac.
Please contact the Surrey Archives to learn more about Sarjit “Mac” Singh and farming during his lifetime in Surrey.