On today’s date in 1979, one of hockey’s first star players, Cyclone Taylor, died in his sleep in Vancouver, B.C.
Frederick Wellington “Cyclone” Taylor was born on June 23, 1884 in Tara, Ont., near Owen Sound. Taylor was one of the earliest professional hockey players, skating for the Portage Lakes Hockey Club, the Ottawa Hockey Club and the Vancouver Millionaires (later renamed the Maroons) between 1905 and 1923.
Taylor was one of the most prolific goal scorers of his era, during which he won several scoring championships as well as two Stanley Cup Championships—one in 1909 with Ottawa and another in 1915 with Vancouver. Finally, in 1947, Taylor was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 1907, before joining the Ottawa Hockey Club, Taylor began working for the Canadian government as part of its immigration branch. When Taylor moved to Vancouver, he kept his job as an immigration officer and was eventually involved in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident which saw 376 immigrants denied entry into Canada and forced to sail away.
Taylor would later become the commissioner of immigration for British Columbia and the Yukon—a position he held until his retirement in 1950.
A year before his retirement, he was named as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for outstanding service as an immigration officer in two wars.
2014 KOMGATA MARU STAMP
In 2014, Canada Post remembered the 100th anniversary of this pivotal incident with a booklet of six international-rate stamps. Released in connection with Asian Heritage Month, the stamp’s design recognizes the significance of the incident while encouraging Canadians to reflect on their country’s history. The stamp measures 31 mm by 38 mm and was printed by Canadian Bank Note Co. using five-colour lithography.
The Komagata Maru’s arrival challenged a 1908 regulation that denied entry to immigrants unless they had $200 and had made a “continuous journey” from their home country—conditions that were nearly impossible for immigrants from India to meet. Only 20 returning residents, and the ship’s doctor and his family, were allowed to enter Canada. The remaining passengers were confined to the ship for two months, after which time it was forced to sail back to India, where, upon arrival, many of the refugees were seen as political agitators. Twenty passengers were shot after disembarking, and many others were imprisoned.
“This stamp commemorates an important – yet tragic ‒ moment in our history. Remembering this tragedy brings to light how Canada has transformed into a diverse and welcoming country,” said Lisa Raitt, then Minister of Transport and responsible for Canada Post.
An official first-day cover, which was cancelled in Vancouver, illustrates the stoic passengers aboard the steamship that arrived in Vancouver Harbour in 1914.
“Canada Post’s stamps tell the stories of our history. But we don’t just commemorate our heroic events; our nation is also shaped by the failures of its past. Events like Komagata Maru have helped encourage Canadians to make it a priority to build a more free and welcoming society that today doesn’t just tolerate diversity, but thrives by it,” said Deepak Chopra, Canada Post president and CEO.
The immigration policies the passengers challenged in 1914 would not be repealed for more than 30 years.