The First Immigration (1891-1914)

Wasyl Eleniak

Ivan Pillipiw

Dr. Joseph Oleskow

Ukrainian Settlements in Manitoba

The Second Immigration (1922-1939)

The Third Immigration (1946-1961)

A "Fourth Wave"-1991 On

ODE TO CANADA by Michael Gowda


There have been three Ukrainian immigrations to Canada, each differing in numbers, the conditions in Canada which attracted them and the conditions in their homeland which made them leave. The first and largest immigration began in 1891 and ended with the coming of the First World War; the second immigration arrived between the two wars; the third began in 1946 and is still continuing, though after 1961 its numbers were reduced to a trickle.

The number of people arriving is estimated to be about 170,000 for the first immigration, about 68,000 for the second and 37,000 for the third.


The First Immigration (1891-1914)

Although eighty percent of the Ukraine’s land was part of the Russian empire, most Ukrainians that landed on Canada’s shores during this period were from the western portion, then under Austrian rule. The first immigration consisted almost entirely of land-hungry peasants from the provinces of Galicia and Bukovina.

Denied any opportunities to improve their lot in their homeland, they were attracted to Canada by its policy of granting virtually free lands or "homesteads" to settlers.

Wasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pillipiw are commonly considered to be the first Ukrainian immigrants to Canada.


Wasyl Eleniak, one of the first Ukrainian settlers to make Canada his home, was born on 22 December 1859 at Nebyliv, district Kalush in Western Ukraine. In 1883 he married a local Nebyliv girl named Anna Roszko.During his early married life Wasyl was employed in the lumbering industry, driving rafts down the river Limnytsia. He had heard tales of Canada from some of the German colonists who had relatives in Canada, a land, it was reported, "where the settlers received 160 acres of land for nothing." His parents owned only three morgen of land (1 morgen is equal to approximately 2/3 of an acre) and, therefore, he decided to emigrate to Canada.

Determined to make a better life in Canada, he was joined by two fellow villagers, Ivan Pylypow (Pylypivsky) and Yurko Panischak. At the end of the summer of 1891, they left their native village and proceeded to Hamburg where they were to board a ship and sail to Canada. Yurko Panischak, short of money, was turned back by officials; but Wasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pylypow paid the fare of 100 golden each for the passage and began their journey for Canada on the S.S. OREGON. They arrived in Quebec 7 September 1891 and proceeded to Winnipeg. Prior to settling on their own homesteads, the two new Ukrainian settlers went to work on Mennonite community farms in Gretna, Manitoba. After two years, Wasyl Eleniak had saved enough money to afford a return trip to Nebyliv, where he intended to gather his family and a few friends and bring them back to Canada with him. He obtained a regular passport from the district office in Kalush (dated 26 February 1894) and together with six other Nebyliv families proceeded to Hamburg. He found himself short of money to pay the passage for all members of the family and was forced to return to Nebyliv to work for another month driving rafts on the Limnytsia river. Once he had saved enough money for his passage he left again for Hamburg, where he boarded the S.S. MONGOLIAN which arrived at Quebec on 25 June 1894.

Early life for Eleniak on the prairies was not easy and required a lot of hard work. For the first four years in Canada he worked as a herdsman in Manitoba before he took his family to Alberta in 1898 where they settled on a homestead within the Edna-Star district (later became Chipman, Alberta). There, his family prospered. He became a successful farmer, raised a large family and on January 3rd, 1947 was chosen by the Canadian Government to be one of the honorary recipients of Canadian Citizenship Certificate during the First Citizenship Ceremony held at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, was the first recipient.


Ivan Pillipiw, the eldest son of Hawrylo Pylypiwsky, spent most of his early years in Nebyliv, working on the family farm. Unfortunately not much is known or has been recorded about his youth in Ukraine except that he may have worked as a logger. After spending a few months in Canada he returned to his homeland in 1892 with the intention of bringing over to Canada his family for permanent settlement. Upon his return to Galicia, Pylypiw convinced six families from his home village of Nebyliw to move to Canada. Consequently, in 1892, the so-called Nebyliw Group established the first permanent Ukrainian settlement in Canada in the locality of Edna-Star, near Edmonton in present-day Alberta.

He returned to Canada on the S.S. Laurentian, landing at Quebec in May 1893 with his family and soon after filed his application for homestead in the Bruderheim district. However, he eventually cancelled it in favour of a new spot near the Edna settlement. His new application for a homestead in Edna was granted in 1894 and that is where he established his family homestead and lived out the rest of his life. He died in an accident in 1936 and was buried at Chipman, Alberta. His farmhouse has been designated an historic building and now resides at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, located east of Edmonton.


More followed in the next few years; but immigration did not begin in earnest until 1896, after Dr. Joseph Oleskow, an agriculturist from Galicia, had visited Western Canada and had personally confirmed that homesteading could be successfully carried on. The immigrants came as families and settled in colonies in the treed areas of what are now the Prairie Provinces - on land that was not always good -and quickly earned a reputation for perseverance and hard work. Place names like "Ukraina" and "Komarno", school names like "Shevchenko" and "Slawa" and post office names like "Mazeppa" and "Sich" attest to the establishment of such settlements.

Among the newcomers was a handful of informed individuals with liberal views who had taken part in reform movements at home. There were also a few descendants from the landed though impoverished gentry. Together they provided the immigrants, who were mostly illiterate and lacking in national awareness, the first leadership in educational, community and religious affairs.

Although the Ukrainian immigration was small compared to the total immigration to Canada at that time, it was confined to the Prairie region and to a narrow and fairly homogeneous agricultural belt within that region. The Prairies required settlers to pioneer and to endure hardships and the Ukrainians were able to meet this need well. Accordingly it can be said that the Ukrainians contributed more to the opening up of the Prairies than their numbers alone would indicate.

Settlement on farms in closely-knit groups greatly influenced Ukrainian development. Nearness to each other gave them security in a strange land and Canada's democratic ways provided an opportunity to use their language and practise their old-country traditions without hindrance from their non-Ukrainian neighbours. The pioneer society around them was on much the same footing as theirs; preoccupied with the problems of existence in a new and harsh land, it accepted people at their face value and cared little about its neighbour’s peculiar ways.

With opportunities for expression not available before, and with leadership provided by their few intellectuals, the Ukrainians began to develop an awareness of themselves as a separate group and to take an interest outside their farming occupation. Early in their settlement, "Prosvitas" or local reading rooms and "National Homes” or community centres were started, and several Ukrainian newspapers. The settlers began to send their young people to schools, and though much of the training was elementary, it was more than they had been able to obtain themselves; a few trained as teachers and became the first professionals of Ukrainian origin to be educated in Canada.

In wanting to give their children more schooling, in both English and Ukrainian, the settlers supported the bilingual school system in Manitoba under which English and another language could be taught in public schools. When bilingual schools were abolished in 1916, they began to provide Ukrainian instruction after school hours. They also began to organise educational hostels for Ukrainian students, whose residents attended high schools, teacher training colleges and the University and also received instruction in Ukrainian subjects. These educational institutions, called "Institutes", were founded in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton.

There appears to be a great deal of confusion describing the Ukrainian settler. Some of these people came from Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Others came from the Kiev area as well as several other places. They were often described in early emigration records as Austrians, Galicians, Bukowinians, Ruthenians, Little Russians, Routhainians, and Gallatians.

The growing awareness or identity of the Ukrainians was motivated at first by a desire and opportunity to assert themselves as a distinct ethnic entity which had a language culture and tradition of its own, even though it had no independent country; later it was also motivated by the desire of the Ukrainians to take part in Canadian life, for they had decided that they would be staying in Canada permanently. The two motives have been complimentary and not contradictory: developing an identity helped them gain the necessary self-esteem and respect outside the group and gave them the confidence to partake in Canadian activities; in turn, achievement outside their group contributed to the growth of a more distinct identity.

The first immigration also provided the dual religious base upon which their identity was to grow. Those from Galicia were Greek Catholic, those from Bukovina were Greek Orthodox, and this division still pervades their lives today.



Ukrainian Settlements in Manitoba

Manitoba, especially its capital city Winnipeg, will always have great historical significance in the settlement of Ukrainians in Canada. This was the first stopping place for groups of Ukrainian immigrants who dispersed from here to their final destination, the homesteads. Even though only one hundred years have passed since the accepted date of the first wave of Ukrainian settlers which was initiated by Ivan Pylypiw and Wasyl Eleniak (as opposed to individual immigration at earlier dates), Canada, Manitoba and especially Winnipeg were much different than they are at present.

The name Manitoba is derived from the Indian words "Manito waba", which probably refer to the echoing sounds produced by the waves as they dash against the rocks in a narrow straight of Lake Manitoba. Manitoba encompasses 251,000 sq. miles of which 26,789 sq. miles is covered by water. The northern region of Manitoba is dotted with many lakes, forests and peat bogs. Its two major rivers, the Churchill and the Nelson, are utilized for hydro electric power. The central region, the so called interlake region, contains three very large lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis and .Manitoba and is prolific with fish and wildlife, although the soil is mainly of poor quality. The fertile plains extending from the Red River contain some of the finest agricultural land in western Canada. The southwestern part of the province consists of rolling hills and contains many forests and lakes which are highly suitable for recreational use. The western uplands are blessed with fertile, black soil which is ideal for agriculture. Manitoba is also rich in mineral resources, notably nickel in the Thompson area and zinc and copper near Flin Flon. Untold deposits of minerals, including gold, silver, and iron in the northern regions are yet to be mined. In areas of the north which are unsuitable for farming, forests, which thrive in this continental climate, contain trees of commercial value.

In 1891, the year of the first wave of settlement, there were 4,833,000 souls in Canada and 152,506 in ,Manitoba. At that time Winnipeg had a population of 25,638, two large train stations, the C.N.R. and C.P.R., and a large immigration home with about 150 smaller ones in the vicinity.

At the time of the first large wave of Ukrainian immigration, the areas that were the most heavily populated were in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and along the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia. The vast expanses between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains remained undeveloped and reserved mainly for hunting and trapping of wild animals.

In 1870, the Canadian government took control of the territories which belonged to the Hudson Bay Company. On July 15 of that year Manitoba joined Confederation and when British Columbia joined a year later it became apparent that to maintain communications within the vast country, a railway would have to be built. Also in 1870, attempts to develop a variety of wheat that would mature before the frosts of the continental climate in the prairie regions set in were successful due to the introduction of Galician origin wheat named "Red Fife’’. This development made wheat growing in Manitoba and the prairie provinces possible. What was needed now, however, both for the building of the railway and for the cultivating of the land were willing and capable hands Besides the pockets of settlers of British origin in the prairie regions, a Scottish colony near the Red River between Winnipeg and present day Selkirk was established in 1912. There was an influx of Mennonites mainly from Ukraine in 1874; Icelanders in 1876, and Germans and Hungarians in 1886. Even though these settlers were allotted the choicest sections of land free of charge, and received financial assistance from the government, in most cases the harsh continental climate drove them to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Intensive settlement of the prairies began only when Clifford Sifton, the minister of internal affairs under Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, turned his attention to obtaining settlers from central Europe, especially from Austro-Hungary. The result was a clandestine agreement in 1899, renewed in 1904, with the North Atlantic Shipping Co. based in Hamburg to pay the company $5 for the procurement of every head of a family of settlers and $2 for every family member. The outcome was a massive immigration campaign.

The immigration propaganda fell upon very fertile grounds. At this time, western Ukraine, which was the focus of the campaign, was experiencing severe political and economic oppression. When the peasants heard of the virtually free parcels of land and the political and religious freedom offered in Canada, they eagerly applied for immigration in great numbers. Contributing factors were two booklets written by Joseph Oleskiv, "About Free Lands" and "About Emigration", which redirected the emigration thrust from Brazil called the "Brazilian fever", where our people were sorely manipulated by unscrupulous agents and suffered greatly in a climate to which they found difficulty adapting.

The first booklet was written by Dr. Oleskiv before his departure to Canada on July 25, 1895; the second was written upon his return and was published in December of that year. Within a month of his return, Dr. Oleskiv was instrumental in establishing an Emigration Assistance Committee whose responsibility was to ensure that there would be individuals in each emigrating group that would report to the committee. In this way Dr. Oleskiv could track the progress of the groups and confirm that the assistance he had arranged while he was in Canada for their settlements was utilized. It should be mentioned here that Dr. Oleskiv met with representatives of the Canadian government in Ottawa to formulate a memorandum regarding the immigration of Ukrainians to Canada. In Winnipeg he met with the Commissioner of Dominion Lands and in Edmonton with the Minister of Internal Affairs. He also tried to arrange for the spiritual guidance of the people which will be dealt with elsewhere in this book. Unfortunately, the assurances made to Dr. Oleskiv during his stay in Canada did not safeguard our immigrants, especially in the early years, from unscrupulous agents and immigration officers who were in charge of settlement. In addition, changes in governmental and ministerial officers contributed to harsh grievances and long remembered suffering in the first years of settlement.

The Ukrainian immigrants arrived by boat in Halifax or ;Montreal and then continued their journey by train to Winnipeg where they were detained in an immigration home. It was here that the location of their homestead was decided. Up to 1895, the immigrants were able to choose the location for their homesteads. After this year the decision was made by the immigration officers which often led to unpleasant and dramatic confrontations. (See the settlement of Saltcoats, Fish Creek. Saskatchewan and elsewhere. M.N. Marunchak, The History of Ukrainian Canadians, vol. 1.) Compounding these difficulties was the lack of financial resources which would enable the immigrants to buy more productive land, or land near rail lines which often was not available in the 160 acre homesteads offered by the government for a cost of $10. This sum did not include farming equipment essential for the cultivation of the land. The government offered no financial assistance and long term loans were not available at that time. The Ukrainian pioneers, abandoned to their own resources had no choice but to leave their families on the bleak homesteads, most often in temporary dugout shelters without even the basic necessities for survival, and seek summer employment at more established homesteads or with the railroads. These and other intolerable circumstances were often the cause of the staggering number of human tragedies, some of which are recorded in memoirs, while others are buried forever in the many prairie graves of the pioneers.

Two men who laid the foundation of Ukrainian immigration were Wasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pylypiw from the village of Nebyliv, District of Kalush in Halychyna. On September 7, 1891, they disembarked from the steamship "Oregon" in Montreal. On September 10, they arrived in Winnipeg, and after a short stay they found employment in Gretna, a colony south of Winnipeg. Eleniak continued to work in this area while Pylypiw left on December 15, 1892, to bring his and Eleniak’s wife, Anna, and children back to Canada. In his village of Nebyliv, Pylypiw’s was punished for his efforts to recruit immigrants to Canada. He returned to Canada in May of 1893 with his wife Maria and their four children, (the fifth being born in Canada). Shortly after his return, he settled in the Edna Star area, Alberta. He died in a tragic accident on October 10, 1936, in his 77th year and was buried in Chipman. Wasyl Eleniak returned to Ukraine for his family in 1893. Even though they experienced great financial difficulties, they were able to immigrate to Canada in 1894 and settled in Chipman, Alberta. There were seven children in their family. Eleniak died in Edmonton at the age of 98 on January 12, 1956 and was buried in Chipman.

Following these first groups of immigrants, which paved the way for massive immigration and small groups of settlers, was the first large transport of 107 persons which set out for Canada on April 30, 1896. Almost all of these immigrants settled in Edna, Alberta, which was renamed Star, and began the oldest Ukrainian colony in Canada. (Marunchak, Vol. 1, pg. 46) A large group of immigrants from the steamship "Sicilia", monitored by Kyrylo Genyk, arrived in Winnipeg in July, 1896, and settled in Manitoba. This group which was comprised of 27 families and a few single men mainly from the village of Senkiw, in Borshchiw county, set out to establish a colony south of Winnipeg which they wanted to name ‘‘Rus’’ (Ukraine). Thus was begun the oldest colony in Manitoba. However, the name "Rus" was superseded by "Stuartburn", called "Shtombury" by the Ukrainian settlers, which was the name of the post office and railway station in the area. From this initial group developed 15 church communities, whose present day administrative centre is Rosa. Among its oldest communities are Stuartburn 1898; Tolstoi 1902; Caliento 1907; Zhoda 1909; Lonesand 1913; Sopiwnyky 1913-1915 and others. Another group mainly from the villages of Zavalia and Berezova in the Terebovlia county, under the leadership of Wasyl Ksionzyk, settled north-west of Winnipeg in the Dauphin Lake region near the Drifting-River (south-west of the town of Dauphin which was established in 1898) and named it ‘‘Trembowla’’ (Terebovlia). The name of the railway station, "Valley River", which was located about 6 miles from the colony, was chosen over the name given by the colonists. Thus, this historic name of the church district was used only to designate a school district, "Trembowla School No. 1040" which was organized in the fall of 1897 and survived until the 1960’s. The settlers in the area of Terebovlia joined in the building of the Church of the Holy Trinity which was blessed on April 12, 1897 by Father Nestor Dmytriv who also oversaw the erection of the Cross of Freedom and blessed the Holy Trinity cemetery which remains to this day. (In 1908, a part of the congregation, along with the church building, was assimilated by the Russian Mission, and separated from the Ukrainian Catholic Church.) In 1898, St. Michael’s Church became the centre for communities from the Terebovlia area which settled near Mink River, and it still stands today as a historical monument. (See Mink River Volkivtsi.) In 1906, in the area south of the two above mentioned church communities, a congregation was organized at Ashville which was preceded by a congregation in Keld in 1902, Mink Creek in 1903 and others who make up the eight parishes under the present day jurisdiction of Gilbert Plains.

In February of 1897, approximately 1100 Ukrainian immigrants arrived in several steamships. Some found jobs and remained in Winnipeg, others continued on to Alberta while 475 of these immigrants joined the settlers in the Dauphin area. Here at Sifton they built a chapel upon their arrival in 1897, which grew to a large centre presently encompassing nine parishes. In time. congregations were established at Ethelbert and Venlaw in 1900, Zoria in 1903, and Ukraina in 1917. There was a great influx of immigrants in May of 1897; 672 from Halychyna on the steamship "Prussia"; 558 on the "Arabia" and 672 on the ‘‘Armenia’’. These immigrants settled in the Dauphin area, and called the area and the school "Kosiv" because it reminded many of them of the terrain of their villages in the Carpathian Mountains. At that time a large community was formed at Winnipegosis, north of Dauphin, which presently encompasses 9 church communities and parishes. Among the first to incorporate were Winnipegosis in 1905, Toutes Aides in 1910 and South Bay in 1913.

Further north and somewhat later, communities were established in the Pine River area, with 7 church groups including those at Garland in 1910-1911; Fletcher in 1914-1915; Pulp River, Cowan and Sclater in 1918. In June of 1897 a group of settlers comprised of eleven families, formed a community at Pleasant Home located about 40 miles north of Winnipeg near Lake Winnipeg. Presently under the church jurisdiction at Gimli are ten church communities that were first organized at Foley North in 1900, Gimli farms in 1903, Fraserwood farms in 1906, Arnes in 1910, Zbruch in 1912, Komarno in 1914, and elsewhere. These settlements further strengthened the Ukrainian communities which in 1898 numbered 150 families, (as reported in "Svoboda’’ no. 8, 1903) and encouraged additional immigration. Although this Interlake area, between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, was heavily forested and had poor stony or swampy land, the settlement increased to several thousands of Ukrainian settlers who were eager to join established settlements regardless of the condition of the land. Thus about 15 communities were established further north near Fisher Branch where the people joined in the building of churches at Chatfield in 1910, Poplarfield in 1913, Rembrandt in 1915-1917, Silver in 1918, Meleb and Sylvan in 1918 and elsewhere.

In the spring of 1899 groups of Ukrainian immigrants began settling along the slopes of the Riding Mountains in the vicinity of Shoal Lake, call "Shoylyk" by the settlers, and Sandy Lake. First among the eight communities that formed here were Ozerna in 1904, Sandy Lake in 1911, Horod in 1917 and others. In the area of Rossburn 11 church communities were organized. Among these were Rossburn-farms in 1901, Olha and Lakedale in 1904, and Dolyny in 1907. At the time of settlement Oakburn was the centre of the colonies and the name given to the area. To the east of these settlements near the town of Neepawa evolved seven more communities, the oldest to be established were Mountain Road in 1904 and Glenella in 1909. The transport of settlers in 1899 is especially significant in the history of Ukrainian settlement because of the terrible tragedy that befell it. (See graves of the 40 children and some adults along the shores of Lake Patterson.)

The settlements spread in Manitoba to the Saskatchewan border where, in the area of Roblin, ten communities evolved; the first being Zelena in 1910, then Merridale in 1923, Shortdale in 1933, Roblin-farms in 1935, Petlura in 1936 and others. Directly west of Winnipeg a Ukrainian community was established in 1906 at Portage la Prairie which gave rise to a small Ukrainian farming community at St. Claude. Further west the settlers joined in the building of a church at Brandon in 1903-1905, nearby at Rivers in 1909 and at Menzie in 1947.

Ukrainian immigrants settled also near Winnipeg. To the oldest communities belongs Goner where the church dates back to 1899, followed by the Beausejour area with the church at Ladywood built in 1903, Brokenhead in 1904 and then Thalberg in 1913 and six others witch presently belong to this area of parish communities. The district of Selkirk has five parishes of which the oldest dates back to 1908 in East Selkirk. The district of Rossdale-‘‘Parky’’ consists of seven church parish communities of which the oldest is St. Norbert established in 1906, Elma in 1909-1912 and Hadashville in 1911. Later settlers seeking employment moved to the northwest and far north. In 1937 a church community was formed in The Pas, in 1949 in Flin Flon and in 1972 in the northern city of Thompson. Many settlers remained in Winnipeg from the onset of immigration and formed communities around their churches. Thus in 1901, a congregation was established at St. Nicholas Church which was called the "small church" and in 1906 the "big church" was built. In 1916-1917 the church in Winnipeg-Transcona was built; the first church at Winnipeg-Boyd was built in 1926 and others followed which presently total 16 church parish - communities.

Subsequent transports provided a continuous influx of immigrants to established communities, and also formed new communities in the northern areas as already mentioned. The organization of a community which centred around the building of a church, school or cultural centre will be dealt with in the individual histories. Generally speaking, this did not coincide with the date of settlement but was determined by the ability of each settlement to ensure that the basic needs were met for the individual families, most of whom began with virtually nothing. Statistics indicate that from the time of the accepted date of formal Ukrainian immigration in 1891 to the First World War in 1914, between 100 to 170 thousand Ukrainian immigrants arrived in Canada. (Conflicting data is a result of confusion between place of birth and ethnic origin.)

Most of the immigrants settled in the three prairie provinces; the largest number going to Manitoba. In the rest of Canada, Ontario received the largest number. Between 1915 and 1925 there was negligible immigration because of the war and difficult economic conditions in Canada. However, between 1926 and 1929 approximately 50 thousand Ukrainians immigrated to Canada with an additional 16 thousand in 1939. The next large wave of Ukrainian immigration occurred after the Second World War. In one year alone, between 1948 and 1949, 10,500 immigrants, mainly displaced persons from refugee camps in Germany, entered Canada. The number of immigrants during the post war years of 1945-1954 totaled 34,232. In the 1951 census there were 14,004,429 people in Canada. Of these, 395,043 were of Ukrainian origin. Manitoba at that time had a population of 776,541 of which 98,753 were of Ukrainian origin; half of whom lived in the cities and the other half on farms. Winnipeg had a population of 354,069 of which 41,337 were or Ukrainian origin. The latest statistics in 1988 gives the population of Canada as 25,334,000. Of these, 754,980 persons indicated their origin as being Ukrainian. Manitoba’s overall population was 1,071,000, with 130,285 single origin Ukrainians. Winnipeg had a population of 265,000, with 84,565 of single origin Ukrainians.

Through hard work Ukrainian settlers in Manitoba transformed much of its wilderness into productive fields bringing an ordered beauty to the land and wealth to the province and Canada as a whole. They contributed a lion’s share of the labour that carved out roads, built railways, developed commercial enterprises, established cultural educational centres and enhanced the political life of the nation. Though downtrodden and forsaken in the early years of settlement, Ukrainians were able to ignite the life-giving spark of holy faith, and with their unceasing prayer and hard work overcame the scorn and hostility all around them to emerge strong and confident in their sound husbandry of the Canadian entity, their adopted homeland. The descendants of these pioneers continued to contribute the finest elements of their cultural and artistic expression which has its source in spiritual communion with Ukraine. In the one hundredth anniversary of Ukrainian settlement they stand secure in their contributions to the development of Canada and their share in the responsibility of shaping its future.


Article taken from Ukrainian Catholic Churches of Winnipeg Archeparchy, History of Ukrainian Catholic Churches in Canada, Volume 4 by Anna Maria Kowcz-Baran (Saskatoon, 1991).


updated on January 30, 2005


The Second Immigration (1922-1939)

The Second Immigration (1922-1939) was smaller than the first and numbered about 68,000 people. The immigrants began to arrive in numbers in 1923 after the Ukrainian Republic had fallen, and its partition between Poland, Roumania. Czecho-Slovakia and the Soviet Union was completed. Ukrainian immigration increased throughout the prosperous twenties and nearly half of it arrived in the three years from 1927 to 1929. With the coming of the "great" depression, Ukrainian immigration fell sharply, but rose again in the late thirties as the danger of war began to loom in Europe.

The main flow of immigrants continued to come from Bukovina and Galicia,then under Poland and Roumania. For the first time, immigrants began to arrive in numbers from Volynia, which also had fallen under Poland. Most of the immigrants were still farmers, the unskilled and semi-skilled who were being pushed out of their homeland by the bleak economic and political future which they faced. They still sought land in Canada, but the good homesteads were gone, and they had to choose between free land which was poor or too far from settlement, or better land at a price. The pull of non-farm jobs was increasing and more and more of the immigrants were drawn into Canadian cities and towns.

Some immigrants had taken part in unsuccessful wars for Ukrainian ndependence during 1917 to 1922, and brought with them a strong sense of nationalism and an old-country orientation, These attitudes complicated the emerging views of the first immigration which were becoming more and more orientated towards Canadian problems. Some skilled and professionally trained immigrants also came, adding to the small numbers already in Canada.

The depression of the thirties, damaging as it was in other ways, was a great economic and social leveller. But it was not enough to overcome differences, which had arisen among the Ukrainians. Controversy between the two churches and several lay organisations with different political orientations was using up too much of the creative energies of the Ukrainians and it was becoming obvious that more co-ordination of their efforts was essential if their development in Canada was to be unimpeded. The brief independence of Carpatho-Ukraine in 1939 and the strong patriotic sentiments, which it aroused also, showed the need to co-ordinate activities regarding their homeland.


The Third Immigration (1946-1961)

The Third Immigration (1946-1961) contributed the smallest number of people, some 37,000 in all. The majority had entered by the end of 1952, though appreciable numbers continued to come until 1960. The immigrants had one common feature -they were political refugees from behind the Iron Curtain -and many differences. Some were professionals from the sciences, humanities and the arts, others were craftsmen, and still others were labourers and farmers. For the first time they came from all regions of the Ukraine, so that in this sense the New World became representative of the old.

Although small in numbers, the third group of immigrants made a great impact on the Ukrainians already in Canada. Many of the newcomers accepted fairly quickly the existing institutions developed by the Ukrainians. This was to the benefit of both. It bolstered the institutions with much needed membership and gave moral support and fresh impetus to their efforts; at the same time it provided a haven from which the newly arrived could more quickly find a job and begin to integrate into Canadian life. There were, however, instances in which the third immigration participated too zealously in the work of these institutions, turning away some of the more loosely attached Canadian born Ukrainians.

The newcomers also made noteworthy contributions in the academic, professional, literary and artistic fields. They helped establish and staff Slavic Departments at universities, providing advanced training in Ukrainian subjects and enabling instruction in Ukrainian to develop from the elementary level. With a high proportion of professionals, they were able to increase Ukrainian participation in universities, government and business. They established new journals and newspapers and helped to put Ukrainian language newspapers in the forefront of Canada's ethnic press. Through Canadian branches of the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences and the Shevchenko Scientific Society, they contributed to Canadian literature by their prolific output of Ukrainiana.

Not all were able to make an easy adjustment to the new conditions. Some could not find jobs immediately or could not find jobs in line with their abilities, training or preferences; others had to take supplementary schooling, generally past school age, to bring their education in line with Canadian needs. Still others retained their strong beliefs on old country politics; they could not accept the generally Canadian orientation of the Ukrainian institutions and founded new organisations of their own more in line with their thinking. The Ukrainian Canadian Committee has, however, proven flexible enough to accommodate these organisations without losing its primarily Canadian orientation.

In some ways the first two immigrations contributed to the adjustment problems of the third. Considering themselves charter members, they did not always accept the new arrivals readily. Having established a niche for themselves in Canadian society they were sceptical of the views and motives of the new arrivals and were not ready to accept them fully until they had "proven" themselves sufficiently. The attitude of estrangement on both sides was an inevitable adjustment phase that is gradually dying, to themutual benefit of each.


A "Fourth Wave"-1991 On

A "Fourth Wave" of Immigrants from Ukrainestarted from 1991 as a result of the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
The first: How well are the new Ukrainian Canadians adapting to the Canadian economic system? This is examined within the context of Canada's immigration policy which, from the mid-1970s to late 2001 (a major overhaul of Canadian immigration policy was announced recently), sought to match immigrants directly with existing labor needs.
The second: How well, if at all, do the new immigrants integrate into Toronto's Ukrainian community? This is considered through the prism of the theory posed by Louis Hartz, a sociologist best-known for his study "The Founding of New Societies," that new immigrants live for a long time by issues that were significant to them in their home country before their departure.
Getting into the subject matter proper, Prof. Isajiw provided a basic profile of the immigrants. Ninety percent were born in Ukraine, and 90 percent came as independent immigrants (the remaining 10 percent arrived sponsored). Just over one-quarter (26 percent) have taken Canadian citizenship.
They are divided almost equally between males and females. Most (78.6 percent) are married, while 11 percent are single and 9 percent divorced or separated. Their average age upon arrival was 35.4, while their average age at the time of being interviewed was 39, indicating that they had been in Canada, on average, for just over 3.5 years.
An interesting statistic, considering the Toronto housing market, is that 22 percent are homeowners.
Seventeen percent have no children, while 31.9 percent had one and 45 percent have two. Eighty-nine percent are working full-time, although only 43 percent use specific skills acquired in Ukraine in their work.
The principal area from which they emigrated was "Greater" Ukraine (i.e., Central and Eastern Ukraine, 50 percent), with western Ukraine (Halychyna and Bukovyna) following at 41 percent, and southern Ukraine (and "other" regions) coming in at 9 percent. Significantly, 26 percent of all those who emigrated from Ukraine to Canada came from Kyiv and 24 percent from Lviv.
Later in the seminar, Prof. Isajiw noted the high educational achievement of the immigrants: 12.8 percent had degrees from an "uchylyshche," or a "tekhnikum," 37 percent from an "instytut," and 36.1 percent from a university. As well, he noted their religious affiliation (at the time of emigration) as being split among Ukrainian Orthodox (37 percent), Russian Orthodox (16 percent), Catholics (27 percent) and non-believers (11 percent).
Prof. Isajiw noted that while Ukrainian immigrants are fairly well integrated into the Canadian economy, they generally tended to be overqualified for the work they were doing. As such, Canada has done very well by Ukrainian immigration.
A host of statistics preceded this conclusion. Regarding employment before and after emigration, Prof. Isajiw noted that the field of computing became significantly more important for immigrants (with the ratio of their employment in this field rising from 15.2 percent while in Ukraine to 20.1 after arriving in Canada). Business and entrepreneurship also saw a rise, from 3.4 percent to 6.4 percent.
On the other hand, engineering (an astonishing decline from 22.4 percent to 0.7 percent) and "professional" work (12.1 percent to 3.7 percent), as well as work in the humanities (13.8 percent to 2.0 percent) and management (7.6 percent to 2.7 percent) took sharp dives. Unskilled manual labor, meanwhile, experienced a temporary spike from 0.0 percent (in Ukraine) to 19.1 percent as a first job in Canada to a current level of 4.0 percent.
The speaker also examined the issues of "difficulty finding work" (where lack of Canadian contacts and Canadian experience, as well as a lack of English fluency were cited as major problems) and "attitudes and opinions" (in which it emerged, in unrelated questions, that almost half of the respondents felt that they were overqualified for their current jobs, yet over half were generally satisfied with their jobs).
Prof. Isajiw then turned to the integration of the new immigrants into the Ukrainian community, the other major question addressed by the study. The conclusion was unequivocal: new arrivals have not linked up with the "hromada" in any significant way. Their active participation in existing Ukrainian organizations stood at 9 percent and in Ukrainian organizations for new arrivals at 4 percent. Their attendance of activities sponsored by Ukrainian organizations was 8.0 percent "very often"; 23.7 percent "time to time"; 20.1 percent "rarely"; and 48.2 percent "never."
Even informally the new immigrants have maintained a certain social distance from local Ukrainian Canadians: less than 27 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it was "easy to make friends with Ukrainian Canadians" (compared to just over 41 percent for making friends with non-Ukrainian Canadians).
Nevertheless, the new arrivals by and large are interested in Ukrainian matters. A full 92.3 percent indicated that they feel it is important to pass on a sense of Ukrainian culture to their children, 50 percent send their children to a Ukrainian school, and 24 percent send their children to dance lessons. Almost 82 percent read Ukrainian Canadian newspapers often or from time to time, while 66.8 maintain a strong interest in Ukrainian politics.
In conclusion, Prof. Isajiw reiterated his major findings and revisited some of his statistics on language (which are not mentioned in this report) and cultural identification. He also noted that the Russian Ukrainian language mix among the recent arrivals - to some degree an object of derision among local Ukrainian Canadians - is still very common and unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Several significant matters were raised during the subsequent question-and-answer session. The first question asked how representative a sample was the group studied, given the fact that the name list for possible interviewees was generated from a Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society list. Prof. Isajiw replied that the fact that the list includes over half of the "Fourth Wave" immigrants renders it fairly neutral in scope and that the names were picked at random from it.
Another query focused on what the results for a comparable survey in the United States might yield. The speaker remarked that there were numerous differentiating factors between Canada and the United States, so that it is not realistic to speculate on this matter. At the same time, he added that the backers of this undertaking were interested in the possibility of extending this examination to the situation in the United States.
One commentator subsequently suggested that the larger numbers of new Ukrainian immigrants to the United States and the relatively weaker condition of community organizations in that country rendered them more likely to being taken over by recent arrivals. Conversely, the very strength of Toronto's Ukrainian community may well mitigate the successful integration of recent immigrants from Ukraine, insofar as they are unable to assume dominant positions (i.e., take them over or enter the scene on their own terms).
Finally, socio-linguistic and regional questions were raised. Questions were asked about the recent immigrants' relations with the large Russophone population in the Toronto region, as well as the impact of the close Galician/Ukrainophone identification upon the survey results. Regarding the former, Prof. Isajiw noted that the matter was simply never explored; as for the latter, he added that the data are still very fresh and had not yet been examined.
Andrij Makuch is research coordinator of the Ukrainian Canadian Program at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.



by Michael Gowda

O free and fresh -- home Canada I Can we,
Born far o'er seas, call thee our country dear?
I know not whence nor how the right may be
Attained, through sharing blessings year by year.
We were not reared within thy broad domains,
Our fathers' graves and corpses lie afar;
They did not fall for freedom on thy plains,
Nor we pour out our blood beneath thy star.

From ancient worlds by Wrong oppressed swarmed,

Many as ants, to scatter on thy land;
Each to the place you gave, aided, unharmed,
And here we fear not kings or nobles grand.

And are you not, 0 Canada, our own?
Nay, we are still but holders of thy soil,
We have not bought by sacrifice and groan
The right to boast the country where we toil.

But, Canada, in Liberty we work till death!
Our children shall be free to call thee theirs,
Their own dear land, where, gladly drawing breath,

Their parents found safe graves, and left strong heirs,

To homes and native freedom, and the heart
To live, and strive, and die if need there be,
In standing manfully by Honor's part,
To save the country that has made us free."