Kohaly Collection, Simon Fraser University Library.

Until the mid-1950s, British Columbia homes were fueled by wood or coal.

In the 1920s, South Asian Canadians began selling and delivering wood fuels like sawdust and mill-ends to homes and also supplied ‘hog fuel’ to industry. Initially horses powered deliveries; later on it was trucks.

Fraser Wilson illustration, Vancouver Sun, February 6, 1943, 35.

This was innovative niche work. Sellers connected their work in the lumber industry to consumer demand. Wood fuel sellers were stratified by ethnicity and the work became known as a South Asian specialty. Beside being a source of family income, wood fuel sales defined relationships between South Asian sellers and the mainly white buyers.

Bikram (Vic) Berar recalled being asked to help sell wood fuel as a kid on Vancouver Island:


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Union Zindabad! Copyright © 2022 by BC Labour Heritage Centre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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