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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
The closing decades of the 19th century saw an exodus of large numbers of peasants from the provinces of Galicia and Bukovina in Austria and from the Russian Ukraine. The reported numbers of Ukrainians who came to Canada vary depending on how one defines the term. Ukrainian was the collective name used to refer to Slavic peoples from areas which made up the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. They were also referred to as Galicians. The number of Galicians, Bukovinians or Ruthenians reported by the Department of Immigration as arriving between 1886 and 1914 is over 170,000. These numbers don’t include Russians, Romanians or Poles. The Ukrainians came to Canada in three main waves.
The first wave of Ukrainian immigrants (1890-1914) had the following characteristics:
- the vast majority were peasants
- most were small ‘c’ conservative, attached to old traditions and the soil
- most were uneducated, and ignorant of modern farming methods
- about 50% were illiterate, most had no knowledge of English
- they had no capital
- only a few were skilled tradesmen
The Ukrainians provide a good example of block settlement. Their communities ran in a continuous line from south-eastern Manitoba to northern Alberta. In some cases whole villages migrated and settled together in Canada.
The majority of Ukrainians settled in rural areas as described by Charles Young in his 1931 book “The Ukrainian Canadians, A Study in Assimilation”:
“Their rural settlements may be pictured as stretching north from south-eastern Manitoba to east of Winnipeg, and from there to Edmonton along the line of the Canadian National Railway. This territory consists of long stretches of land settled almost wholly by Ukrainians. It is broken for hundreds of miles in some places, yet in others extends back from the railway octopus-like into the surrounding hinterland in every direction. These people are found in almost every municipality in northern Manitoba and they predominate in the majority of them. In Saskatchewan, their settlements extend north-west from Calder on the Manitoba boundary for almost a hundred miles, and large settlements occur again at Wakaw and Hafford. In Alberta they occupy a block north-east of Edmonton nearly a hundred miles long, and about half that in width.” (Young 1931, 58)
During the period 1914-1920, through the War Measures Act, the Canadian Government established twenty-four internment camps across the country to house “enemy aliens”. Of the 8,500 interned, five thousand were Ukrainians. Many of the interned were used as forced labour to assist with government infrastructure projects. More can be learned about this part of Ukrainian Canadian history by reading Lubomyr Luciuk’s book Beyond The Barbed Wire Fence - Canada's First National Internment Operations and the Ukrainian Canadians, 1914-1920. (Kashtan Press, 2001.)
A second wave occurred in the twenties and thirties when many others came out to join friends and family already settled—an example of chain migration. Immigration increased after eastern Galicia was ceded to Poland, ending any hopes for a separate homeland. A number of Ukrainians who had first settled in the United States later moved on to Canada. This second group tended to be less homogeneous than the first and included farmers, labourers, discharged soldiers as well as political refugees and intellectuals. Unlike the earlier immigrants, most in the second group had had some education. Also, now they were settling not only in the prairies but in Ontario, eastern Canada and B.C.
Ukrainian Settlement Map
Young, Charles H.The Ukrainian Canadians, A Study in Assimilation. Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., 1931, after p 70.
Still more came after the end of WWII. The majority of this third group were displaced persons. Many of them were skilled workers, professionals and intellectuals. In 1951, Ukrainians formed the largest Slavic group in Canada. They were 4th in size following Anglo Saxon, French and German groups (Kaye 1955, 13). In 1953, there were 36 Ukrainian newspapers being published in Canada, 4 of them in English. Anyone researching Ukrainian roots in Canada would be well advised to search these out. Try the LAC website index of microfilmed newspapers to see what’s available: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/8/18/index-e.html.
When the Russian army defeated the Hungarian uprising in 1956, over 200,000 people fled their homeland, most of them going to Austria. The powers vested in the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration through the Immigration Act of 1952 allowed Jack Pickersgill to act quickly, announcing in November that Ottawa would put in place a generous admission programme with free passage for all Hungarians who met Canada’s immigration standards. Close to 38,000 Hungarians were admitted to Canada in 1956 and 1957. Many of them were young people including students and faculty from the University of Sapron who were incorporated into the University of British Columbia (Forestry Division) and the University of Toronto. One-third of the Hungarians settled west of the Great Lakes, one-third in Ontario and the rest in Quebec and the Maritimes.
In the late 1950s, immigration began to drop off.
“Unlike the newcomers in the earlier boom period of Canadian immigration, 1900-1914, the new arrivals in the late 1940s and the 1950s were a more heterogeneous body, with a greater diversity of skills and training and widely varied intended occupations which were by and large more urban than rural in character.” (Knowles 2000, 135)
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
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