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Panama Maru

Origin “Maru”

The word maru (丸, meaning "circle"?) is often attached to Japanese ship names. The first ship known to follow this convention was the Nippon Maru, flagship of daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century fleet.

Several theories purport to explain this practice:

  • The legend of Hakudo Maru, a celestial being that came to earth and taught humans how to build ships. It is said that the name maru is attached to a ship to secure celestial protection for itself as it travels.

  • The most common is that ships were thought of as floating castles, and the word referred to the defensive “circles”or maru that protected the castle.

  • The suffix -maru is often applied to words representing something beloved, and sailors applied this suffix to their ships.

  • Today commercial and private ships are still named using this convention.


Origin “Maru”


  • The term maru is used in divination and represents perfection or completeness, or the ship as "a small world of its own.“

  • For the past few centuries, only non-warships bore the -maru ending. Its use was intended as a good hope naming convention that would allow a ship to leave port, travel the world, and return safely to home port: hence the complete circle arriving back at its origin unhurt.

  • Note also that “Hinamaru", or "sun-disc", is a name often applied to the national flag of Japan.

  • Today commercial and private ships are still named using this convention.


Continuous Journey Regulation


The government’s first attempt to restrict immigration from India was to pass an order-in-council on January 8, 1908, that prohibited immigration of persons who "in the opinion of the Minister of the Interior" did not "come from the country of their birth or citizenship by a continuous journey and or through tickets purchased before leaving their country of their birth or nationality." In practice this applied only to ships that began their voyage in India, as the great distance usually necessitated a stopover in Japan or Hawaii. This was discriminatory to those such as India who could not get directly to Canada.

Court ruling Continuous Journey Regulation as invalid


The new regulation was soon challenged with the arrival of the S.S. Monteagle in British Columbia in late February 1908. The ship carried more than 200 passengers, 105 of whom had boarded in Calcutta. A number of the passengers were ordered deported as they did not comply with the new regulation. The orders were challenged in court. Justice Clement of the Supreme Court of B.C. quashed the deportation orders on March 24, 1908, after he found the regulation to be invalid, as the Immigration Act did not authorize the delegation of decision making to the Minister of the Interior, as stated in the regulation.




While neither regulation expressly referred to India, they effectively stopped immigration from India as the $200 cash requirement limit was a significant hurdle for most potential immigrants from India, and the continuous journey regulation was made effective by pressuring steamship companies not to provide direct service between Canada and India or to sell through tickets from Indian ports


Panama Maru


Panama Maru was a steamship built in 1910.

It involved 39 passengers from India who arrived in Victoria, B.C., on October 17, 1913, on the ship Panama Maru, and who were detained and ordered deported under the Immigration Act.

 The act was quashed by Justice Morrison and Justice Hunter and the passengers aboard Panama Maru were allowed to land.


Impact of the Judgement


Word of Justice Hunter's decision spread abroad, with Indians resident in Canada urging others to come to Canada before the rules were changed again.

This seems to be a deciding factor for Gurdit Singh to initiate the Komagata Maru voyage to Canada.


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