Canadian Macedonian Historical Society

Macedonian Immigration to

Canada

   Click to view Video

At the turn of the century, one of the largest groups of non-British settlers to arrive in Canada were villagers from the Balkan mountains, then part of the Turkish Empire. These early residents (and their descendants) call themselves Macedonians. They speak Macedonian, and have their own social and economic institutions including churches, fraternal and self-help organizations, and community-based enterprise, mainly in Metropolitan Toronto and the southern Ontario region.


1911
First Macedonian
Church in Toronto

1915
Voino Family
and Friends
1915
Boys Club
Toronto

1918
Macedonian Wedding

1921
Zhelevo Banquet
Bull's Head Hotel

1924
Zhelevo Picnic
at Humber
1929
MPO Convention St.Cyril & Methody


1934
SS. Cyril & Methody
Church School

1936
Madison Avenue Toronto
1940
St. George Basketball
1944
Concer for
War Relief
1945
Macedonian
Hockey Team
1949
Bouf Banquet
1951
Patsko &
His Orchestra
1950's
Krvava Svadba at Zhelevo Hall
1958
St.Clement Concert
1963
Relief
1964
St.Clement Foundation Blessing

Migration and Settlement

The majority of Macedonians who migrated to Canada arrived in the aftermath of the Illinden Uprising of 1903 - a heroic but unsuccessful attempt by Macedonians to end Ottoman domination.

An internal group census in 1910 found about 1090 Macedonians in Toronto, principally from the provinces of Kostur (Kastoria) and Lerin (Florina), areas which were once important vilayets of the Ottoman Empire but are now identified as portions of northern Greece. By 1940 readers of various Macedonian political and nationalist almanacs were informed that there were upwards of 1200 families in Toronto.

The exodus of Macedonians from northern Greece was to continue in the aftermath of WWII and the Greek Civil War (1947-49). Immigration from Vardar (formerly Yugoslav) Macedonia and Pirin Macedonia in Bulgaria also began in the postwar period. This exodus gained momentum in the 1960s and continues to the present. Government indices of population are not helpful in determining the size of the community because Macedonians fell under the general heading of those from Turkey, Greece, Serbia (or Yugoslavia) and Bulgaria.

The most recent Canadian census (1996), which provides for self-declaration of ethnic origin records 30 915 Macedonians in Canada - the sum total of individuals making single- or multiple-group responses. Centered in Metropolitan Toronto, small groups of Macedonians could also be found elsewhere in Ontario in Cambridge, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener/Waterloo, Markham, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, St Catharines, Thornhill, Thorold and Windsor. Community spokespersons believe that there are actually 100-150 000 Macedonians in Canada.

Many early Macedonian immigrants found industrial work in Toronto, either as factory hands or labourers in abattoirs, local sheet metal industries, or iron and steel foundries. From these jobs, they quickly progressed to the ownership of a great number of restaurants, grocery stores and butcher shops. Macedonian entrepreneurs and their descendants eventually employed their numerical strength within the food service industry as a catapult into a variety of larger and more sophisticated ventures. The majority of Macedonians today are employed in the professional, clerical and service sector of the economy.

Social Life and Community

The social life of early Macedonian immigrants revolved around mutual and benevolent societies established on the basis of village or place of origin. Such Macedonian brotherhoods and benevolent organizations such as Zhelevo, Banitsa, Buf, Oshchima and numerous others operating in Toronto became valuable storehouses of comradeship, job information and worksite strategies.

In the postwar period the Macedonian mutual benefit societies and brotherhoods evolved into social and national clubs, playing a role as centres of immigrant culture as members' working conditions and incomes became subsumed under the headings of social insurance and workers' compensation.

Since 1970, Macedonian ethnocommunity group life has grown and now serves a number of special interests and needs. A number of business and professional associations have been established including the Canadian Macedonian Restaurant Co-op, which was founded in 1979; the Canadian Macedonian Business and Professional Association (1992); and the Macedonian Canadian Health Professionals' Association, formerly the Macedonian Canadian Medical Society (1992). Youth and student groups include the Macedonian Association of Canadian Youth, which was founded in 1992; the Ryerson Association of Macedonian Students (1992); and the Association of Macedonian Students at the University of Toronto, which was granted official recognition as a university campus group in 1989.

Religion, Cultural Life and Education

Macedonians belong to the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity. They established SS. Cyril and Methody Church in Toronto in 1910. It united immigrants from many different villages into a single religious community.

The early immigrants to Toronto and their descendants founded 2 additional churches that are either under the spiritual jurisdiction of the patriarch in Bulgaria or are part of a Bulgarian diocese within the Orthodox Church in America. They are St. George Macedono-Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which was founded in 1941, and Holy Trinity Macedono-Bulgarian Church, which was founded in 1976.

Postwar arrivals to Canada subsequently founded Macedonian Orthodox parishes under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Metropolitan and Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Skopje. They are as follows: St Clement of Ohrid, which was founded in Toronto in 1962; St Dimitria of Solun, which was founded in Markham in 1992; St Ilija, which was founded in Mississauga in 1979; St Sunday, which was founded in Ajax in 1993; and St Naum of Ohrid, which is located in Windsor.

The community has also created a number of group newspapers, radio and television programs, folkdance troupes, sporting organizations and historical and literary societies.

Newspapers include Makedonska Tribuna/Macedonian Tribune, the weekly voice of the Macedonian Political (Patriotic since 1952) Organization, which was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1927; United Macedonians, the quarterly of the United Macedonians of Canada Organization, is published in Markham; and the monthly, Makedonija/Macedonia, was founded in 1984 and is published in Scarborough.

Radio programs include Glas od Makedonija/Voice of Macedonia, Makedonski Svet/Global Macedonia and Makedonski Zrak/Macedonian Ray. Television programs include Makedonska Narodnost/Macedonian Nation and Makedonski Koreni/Macedonian Heritage.

The children of Macedonian immigrants are integrated in the mainstream of Canadian cultural life, and also figure prominently in the professional fields of law, medicine, science and technology, education, sports and recreation, and the arts and entertainment industry.

The Macedonian language belongs to the South Slavic group of languages. Various dialects of the language are spoken and maintained in the home and the literary language is taught to children in community and school heritage language classes.

Suggested Reading R.F. Harney and Harold M. Troper, Immigrants: A Portrait of the Urban Experience, 1890-1930 (1975); Harry V. Herman, Men in White Aprons (1978); Lillian Petroff, Sojourners and Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940 (1995).

See one of the truly great Canadian novels, Michael Ondaatji's In the Skin of a Lion, about Macedonian labourers in urban Canada in the 1920s.

With permission from the author, Dr. Lillian Petroff
[Sojourners & Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940]

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MACEDONIAN ROOTS IN CANADIAN SOIL
(Makedonci vo Kanada)
Spero Thompson

Canada, you are indeed a land of multi-cultural Immigrants
Many people heard your call and they came
Macedonians leave their beloved homeland
Your promise of hope and freedom they come to claim.

You invite them, come people from Aegean, Pirrin, Vardar
Come; join other new life seeking peoples
Leave Macedonia, as children will one day leave home
Come; build families, homes, businesses, Churches with steeples.

You counsel them, embrace me and I will embrace you
Nothing will be given to you, nothing here is free
Macedonians are not strangers to hard times or hard work
Things will go well here, endure you will see.

You persuade them, give me your youth, muscle, sweat
Give me your hopes, dreams, your plans, your brain
Establishing a foothold in this new country will be hard
Remember immigrant, it's your children who will reap and gain.

And work they did, daytime, night time, part time, overtime
In slaughterhouses, tanneries, factories, restaurants and mill
No work was too hard, or beneath such a hardy people
As these freedom loving Macedonians, of intelligence and will.

They rub shoulders with the multiracial people of Canada
Learn the English language; retain culture and procure them a place
Their honest, and religious character, prove them second to none
In Business, Arts, Academics, and Politics, they bring honor to their Race.

One day when we sons and daughters, stand at our parents graves
After those hope seeking immigrants, have ended their days of toil
Then we will understand it is our roots we plant; for far from Macedonia
Our parent’s bodies will become part of Canada's soil.

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The Canadian Macedonian Historical Society is a non-profit, charitable organization, providing all Canadians a perspective on Macedonian history and culture.

Our objective is to develop pride and awareness amongst our members and within the entire Canadian community as to who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.

The Historical Society is supported by volunteers and funded through programmed events and donations. If you would like to support the Society by making a donation please click here.


 

Highlights

Translating the Balkans

Prof. Christina Kramer

Including book launches for
"My Father's Books"
"The Time of the Goats"
"Freud's Sister"

March 3, 2013

Republic of Macedonia Consul General

July 2012

Macedonian Open Golf Tournament 2012

z

Happy 70th

The Best Promoter of Macedonia

Virginia Evans

Children of the Greek Civil War

By Loring M. Danforth and Riki Van Boeschoten (Feb. 12, 2012)

Happy 20th Anniversary

CMHS

November 11, 2011

 

Skype Lecture from Macedonia

Reassessing the Demotic Text of the

Rosetta Stone

May 11, 2011

"Let me tell you a story..." A Symposium of Immigration to Canada 2010

"Get to Know Us" A documentary film about the history of the Jews in Macedonia. Directed by Marjia Makeska. Overview with Dr. Christina Kramer. 01/24/10

cm

Artist Michael Close and the Canadian Macedonian Historical Society donate art work to the Prime Ministers of Canada and the Republic of Macedonia

The Creation of the Macedonian Literary Language - Dr. Kosta Peev - Author of Lexicon of Macedonian Dialects from Southeastern Aegean Macedonia
Canadian Macedonian Artist Michael Close - on his work and Mother Teresa. 
BOOK LAUNCH - "Macedonia and the Macedonians - A History" By Professor Andrew Rossos - 2008
1913 Treaty of Bucharest (Macedonia’s Partition) By Risto Stefov May 19, 2008
BOOK LAUNCH - "Men in White Aprons" - November 25, 2007
"Let me tell you a story..." A Symposium of Immigration to Canada 2007
Video Interview with Alex Gigeroff July 2006 
Men in White Aprons - Lecture by Professor Harry Herman 2006 » 
Grand Opening of the CMHS Library and Resource Centre 2005 »
Em Baba Em Nevesta, Lecture by Dr. Kathy Dimitrievski 2005 »
The Prize Winning Documentary "The Children of 1948" 2005 »
Carabram Multicultural Festival in Brampton, Ontario 2004 »
25th Anniversary of Canadian Macedonian Place - Lecture with Olga Naumoff and Sotir Nitchov 2004 »
World Premier of the Documentary - "Just Arrived" 2004 »
JSG Gandeto - The Ancient Macedonians and Ancient Greeks 2003 »
Lerin Society's Annual Picnic 2003 »
Open Doors Event at the Toronto Archives 2003 »
Ceremony Commemorating the Death of Gotse Delchev 2003 »
Historical Society's Annual General Meeting 2003 »
Kramer, Stoymenoff: Language and Identity in the Village of Vrbnik 2003 »
Special Showing of "Dust" with Director, Milcho Manchevski 2003 »
Rossos: The Macedonian Question and Instability in the Balkans 2003 »
Stefov: When Bad Things Happened to Good Macedonian People 2003 »
Macedonian Kolede Costume Ball 1996
Prof. Tashko D. Belchev HLA Genes in Macedonians November 1995
From Baba's Hope Chest Macedonian Treasures in Canada 1995
First Annual Banquet 1993