Episode 8: The Hanging of Mewa Singh

“I shoot, I go station.”

Mewa Singh’s rarely seen mugshot. Found in the British Library by Darshan Singh Tatla.

When do people of colour enter the archive? “When we’re buying property or breaking the law.” In 1914, Mewa Singh shot William C. Hopkinson at the Provincial Courthouse of British Columbia. He turned himself in to the police, and was hanged for the murder. His crime gives him a place in the official archive, but his name and spirit reverberate across Metro Vancouver in gurdwaras and homes, and across the halls of the old courthouse, now the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is his story.

Mewa Singh’s funeral procession on January 11, 1915. Source: Kohaly Collection via Simon Fraser University komagatamarujourney.ca.

The Centennial Commemoration of Mewa Singh’s death in 2015 in New Westminster. Photo by Robert Hur.

Your Guide to Episode 8 of The Nameless Collective Podcast:

From Mewa Singh’s court testimony. Source: Simon Fraser University komagatamarujourney.ca.

A document showing charges for smuggling and carrying weapons at the Sumas border in 1914. Mewa Singh’s signature, an X, is seen on the last line. Source: Simon Fraser University komagatamarujourney.ca.

Excerpts from Vancouver Province Newspaper, January 1915.

Excerpt from Vancouver Province Newspaper, January 1915.

A ticket to view Mewa Singh’s hanging. Source: Royal BC Museum Archives.

Please subscribe, rate and review the podcast. The Nameless Collective Podcast is a Canadian History podcast hosted by Naveen Girn, Milan Singh and Paneet Singh, and produced by Jugni Style and Manjot Bains, with additional sound engineering by Devinder Singh. Music for the podcast is by WiseChild, featuring Keerat Kaur.

Send your questions, comments and historic insights to hello@jugnistyle.com, and follow The Nameless Collective Podcast on Facebook and Instagram and use hashtag #thenameless.

Photographs & Documents Referenced in Episode 8 of The Nameless Collective Podcast:

BC Archives at the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Johnston, H. J. (2014). The voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh challenge to Canada’s colour bar. UBC Press.

Library and Archives Canada.

London Metropolitan Archives.

Pooni, Sohan Singh (2009). Keneda de Gadri Yodhe. Singh Brothers.

Singh, Paneet (2016). The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson. Performed at Vancouver Art Gallery, January 8-11, 2016.

Personal correspondence with Gurpreet Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla.