Punjabi Market

In 2013, April was declared Sikh Heritage Month- coinciding with the spring festival Vaisakhi, celebrated by various South Asian communities globally.

This photos was taken in April 2024, in support of the Punjabi Market Collective's work to raise awareness of the neighbourhood history, its legacies and its future. VHF hosted a Professional Development Day for Educators in which included a Punjabi Market Murals Walking Tour, lunch at Himalaya Restaurant and presentations by local businesses Hi-Class Jeweller and South Asian artists.

Photo credit S. Carlson


Since the first shop opened in 1970, the commercial area on Main Street between 48th and 51st Avenues has been home to the Punjabi Market, the first in Western Canada. With the growth of the South Asian community in south Vancouver, Punjabi Market quickly became the heartbeat of the neighbourhood. More than just a market, the community of shops, restaurants and grocery stores provides a connection to homelands across South Asia and a place to learn more about these diasporas in Vancouver.

Every year tens of thousands of people congregate in the Punjabi Market to celebrate the Vaisakhi Parade, one of Vancouver’s landmark events.


From False Creek to the Fraser River

The first South Asian immigrants in Vancouver settled in Kitsilano to work in sawmills along False Creek. A thriving residential area was centred around the Sikh Temple at 1866 West 2nd – the first in North America (See PTM Site #31).

With much of the residential area zoned for industrial uses in the 1930s along with proposals for a freeway connector road cutting through the neighbourhood and the general decline of the sawmills on False Creek in the 1960s, much of the community moved to southeast Vancouver attracted by the growing industry along the Fraser River and the new Ross Street temple designed by the architecture firm of Erickson and Massey.

Annual Vaisaikhi Day Parade

In April the Vaisakhi Day Parade marks the start of the harvest and celebrates the 1699 establishment of the Khalsa (community of baptized Sikhs). It attracts thousands of people to the streets to watch the parade, shop and eat. It also marks the beginning of the wedding season one of the busiest periods for the market’s jewellers and dress makers.

Punjabi Market

The commercial area on Main Street between 48th and 51st avenues soon became home to a variety of South Asian businesses (the first sari shop opened in 1970)  and as the only established market in Western Canada it wasn’t uncommon to meet shoppers from as far away as Calgary.

While many shops in the neighbourhood have moved or closed, a few key businesses remain. All India Sweets (originally on the southwest corner of 49th Avenue and Main) has changed hands many times since its opening in the 1970s but current owner Steve Ram says, “We’re not going anywhere. We’re definitely here to stay.” Today the restaurant is across the street from its former location. In 2018 a new housing development by the Orr family who have owned the land for more than 50 years will include a permanent art display to celebrate the Punjabi community’s contribution and history in the neighourhood. More developments in the area are expected.

“The Punjabi Market was once a staple of the entire South Asian Community, “says Paneet Singh, educator and artist, ” It was a vibrant space, a diverse space. It was not only the place for shopping but a place for cultural and community gatherings.”

During Heritage Week 2018, VHF, All India Sweets’ Steve Ram, Paneet Singh and Naveen Girn hosted a special Sunday Morning in Punjabi Market to raise awareness about the neighbourhood history, South Asian history and the future of the market (see the video below). The PTM plaque was presented in 2013 and was installed at All India Sweets. The plaque is currently on the NW corner of Main and 49th on the Orr Building (Tim Horton’s occupies the corner business).

50 Years on Main Street, the Punjabi Market Collective, and the next generations

The Punjabi Market Collective is a non-profit organization made up of passionate advocates, artists, students and entrepreneurs who are working towards revitalizing Vancouver’s historic Punjabi Market by beautifying the market and creating a hub for arts and culture.

Learn more about the Punjabi Market Collective

Related and Nearby Places That Matter Sites


Media & Photos


Main St. & 49th Ave. (currently inside All India Sweets)


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