September 4, 2011

Township of Sarawak, Ontario, Canada

Did you know that there is a town called Sarawak in Canada? I didn't but there really is and if you think that is intriguing, the history behind its founding will knock you off your chair!

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In 1857, the Indians of Newash in Canada gave up their lands which was an Indian reservation known as the Newash Reserve, named after their great Chieftain Newash, to the English. Some said they were hoodwinked by the English, the area was apparently an abundant land. The Governor-General of Canada then, a Lord Bury, promptly renamed the area to Sarawak, in honour of his secretary, Sir James Brooke. Supposedly Sarawak was a battlefield in India in which Sir James Brooke had distinguished himself in battle.
According to Wikipedia, James Brooke was an ensign in the Bengal Army of the British East India Company in India and saw action in Assam during the First Anglo-Burmese war until seriously wounded in 1825; He was 22 then (born 29 April 1803).

Of the naming of the town after a battlefield in India, I think it was a mistake made by the writer of the day who chronicled the town history, out of ignorance.

The James Brooke of Sarawak was made a Rajah(of Sarawak) on 24 September 1841 (official declaration on 18 August 1842). He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1847.

I think therefore, Lord Bury renamed that area in Canada in 1857 to Sarawak in honour of his friend who was the (white) Rajah of Sarawak by then, not because of a battlefield in India.

There is a town in Canada that is called Kepple also I read. There's a road in Singapore that is called Kepple Road and a giant company called Kepple in Singapore, involved in shipping and shipbuilding I think. And what about Cape Croker in Canada! We have Crocker Range in Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo in the Island of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. And Indians and natives of Sarawak; So much similarities. So dear Canadian towsfolk of Sarawak, visit Sarawak and find out your town's namesake.

Source : and


Ronald Orenstein said...

Sarawak, Ontario, with its adjoining townships of Brooke and Keppel (not Kepple), has now been incorporated into the larger city of Georgian Bluffs, Ontario. The name survives, though, at a number of sites including the Sarawak United Church (though people I have talked to in the town are often unaware that another Sarawak exists!)>

mar mers said...

Im from Sarawak, Malaysia. Your article is true.

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