April 4, 1909 – 110 years today made history as the first Sikh wedding in North America was performed between Munsha Singh Sheanh and Annie Wright. This was also the first noted marriage between an Indo Canadian Sikh man and a Caucasian Christian. The wedding took place at West 2nd Ave. Vancouver Gurdwara.
Munsha Singh was born on 30 June 1876 in Kandola village, Punjab. He arrived in Vancouver in 1904, sailing from Japan. He had previously been with the British Police in Hong Kong, after leaving India.
On August 17, 1908 at St James Church, Vancouver BC, he married Annie Wright, a divorcee. (Annie had a daughter Winnifred born about 1898 from her 1st marriage to a Mr. Wright).
Following that ceremony, the 1st Sikh wedding in North America was performed between Munsha Singh Sheanh (Gyan Singh), a Punjabi pioneer, and Annie Wright (Labh Kor), his English tutor on April 4, 1909 at the West 2nd Ave. Gurdwara. The wedding ceremony was performed by Prof. Teja Singh as the head priest. A baptism ceremony also had taken place in the morning and wedding took place the same afternoon when Annie Wright became Labh Kor and Munsha Singh’s name after the ceremony was Gyan Singh.
Munsha Singh and Annie also raised Bhai Bhag Singh and Harnam Kaur’s orphaned daughter for some years. Annie had surgery for breast cancer in 1922 and passed away a year later.
Working in real estate and as a court interpreter, sometime after Annie’s death, Munsha hired a housekeeper, Mary Margaret Connell (known as Marguerite) whom he later married. She was married 1st to Henry Kipp in Vancouver.
Munsha Singh and Mary had 4 children (2 daughters -Beatrice Georgina Mae Kipp and Dorothy Marguerite Kipp Giroday from Mary’s first marriage and 2 more daughters together). The last baby girl died in infancy.
Munsha Singh died at Mount St Joseph Hospital in Vancouver BC on
3 September 1965 at the age of 89.
This article was courtesy of the 100yearjourney.com with minor editing for publishing purpose. www.YEGDesi.com will publish a series of articles about Sikh Pioneers in Canada in lieu of the #SikhHeritageMonth all Arpil.