Throughout Toronto, parks, monuments, and the brilliant cupolas and domes of Ukrainian churches reflect Ukrainian culture and tradition in the city. A statue of St. Volodymyr was erected in front of St. Vladimir Institute to mark the 1988 millennium of Christianity in Ukraine. Dedicated to freedom, a beautiful monument to the poetess Lesya Ukrainka is found in High Park, while the bravery of Ukrainian Canadian soldiers who fought in four wars is commemorated by the Ukrainian Canadian Memorial Park at Scarlett Road and Eglinton Avenue West.
In 1991, Metro Toronto’s 105,000-member Ukrainian community celebrated the centennial anniversary of its immigration to Canada. Toronto’s first known settler of Ukrainian ancestry was Charles George Horetzky, who built a house at 88 Bedford Street in 1891.
Early Ukrainian settlers left the mines and forests of Northern Ontario and the farms of Western Canada to find employment in Toronto’s construction, manufacturing, and shipping industries, as well as in factories, hotels, and restaurants. Large numbers of Ukrainians seeking a better life began to arrive in the 1900s and settled in Toronto’s downtown St. John’s Ward. Another Ukrainian neighbourhood formed in the West Toronto Junction where new industries offered jobs. Erected in 1914, St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church on Franklin Avenue was the community’s first building. It became the centre of community activity with a choir, orchestra, drama circle, and school.
From 1920 to 1950, the Ukrainian language could be heard along Queen Street between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue, where boarding houses, parishes, and businesses began to flourish. The area is still home to some Ukrainian Torontonians and holds special memories for those who come back to visit the neighbourhood churches and shops. Ukraine, once a powerful nation in Eastern Europe, lost its independence after a four-year struggle and was absorbed into the USSR in 1922. To provide assistance to those in their war-torn homeland, the Toronto community organized the Ukrainian Red Cross.
Between 1918 and 1939, the community continued to grow, as a second wave of Ukrainians arrived. Several branches of Ukrainian national cultural organizations were formed in Toronto. The community expanded to include settlement in the Mimico–New Toronto area and in Scarborough. In 1958, St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church was established in Etobicoke.
Today, the Toronto Ukrainian community is held in high esteem by Ukrainians all over the world who are conscious of preserving their heritage. The first Ukrainian bookstore and printing office opened on York Street around 1910. At present, the University of Toronto Press has published more books on Ukrainian subjects than any publisher outside Ukraine, and the headquarters for the Ukrainian World Congress is located in the city.
The strong professional and commercial presence of the community is exemplified by the number of members of the Ukrainian Professional and Business Association. Ukrainian credit unions are found throughout the city, and the community has its own trust company, Community Trust, on Bloor Street West.
Since the 1960s, Ukrainians from the Prairies have moved east to settle in Toronto, primarily in Bloor West Village. The Village is a vibrant neighbourhood for the Ukrainian community, with art and ceramic exhibits, specialty shops, and stores that carry imported foods.
BUDUCHNIST (TORONTO) CREDIT UNION,West Toronto Branch, (2280 Bloor St. W); Mississauga Branch, (Tel. 905-238-1273, 1891 Rathburn Rd. E.); and Scarborough Branch, (Tel. 416-299-7291, 221 Milner Ave.).
COMMUNITY TRUST, (Tel. 416-763-2291, 2271 Bloor St. W).
ST. MARY’S (TORONTO) CREDIT UNION LTD., (Tel. 416-537-2163, 832 Bloor St. W).
SO-USE CREDIT UNION LTD. (HEAD OFFICE), (Tel. 416-763-5575, 2265 Bloor St. W).
UKRAINIAN CREDIT UNION, is Canada’s largest Ukrainian credit union: Head Office, (Tel. 416-922-1402, 295 College St); West Toronto Branch, (Tel. 416-762-6961, 2397 Bloor St. W); Etobicoke Branch, (Tel. 416-233-1254, 225 The East Mall); Mississauga Branch, (Tel. 905-272-0468, 3635 Cawthra Rd).
BLOOR WEST VILLAGE UKRAINIAN FESTIVAL. This festival runs during the weekend closest to Ukrainian Independence Day, August 24. The weekend celebrations include a parade, cultural events, Ukrainian food, Ukrainian dances, Ukrainian arts and crafts, children’s corner plus a pavilion called “It’s Fun to be Ukrainian.” The event is sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto Branch, and the Ukrainian TV Network, “Kontakt.”
CHRISTMAS. The majority of Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7, with the highlight being the eve, January 6. A Holy Supper of 12 meatless dishes is served in memory of the 12 apostles, and begins when the children see the first star in the evening sky. The father offers a prayer which is followed by the traditional Christmas greeting, “Christ is born.” The family responds with, “Let us glorify Him.” The traditional meal starts with kutya (boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds, honey, and sometimes nuts), meant to symbolize family unity and prosperity.
NEW YEAR’S EVE. On January 13, Ukrainians celebrate New Year’s Eve with the singing of carols and dances at halls and university youth clubs.
JORDAN DAY, sometimes called “little Christmas,” January 19, celebrates the baptism of Christ and Epiphany.
THE BIRTHDAY OF THE GREAT POET AND ARTIST TARAS SHEVCHENKO (1814–1861) is always celebrated on March 9 with poetry readings and a concert.
EASTER sees Ukrainians prepare ornamental eggs or “pysanky.” The Easter egg is associated with early Christian ceremonies. Before decorating eggs, they make the sign of the cross and whisper “God, help me,” in hope that the religious meanings symbolized in the designs will come true on Easter morning. A decorative ribbon around the egg represents the endless line of eternity; a ladder suggests prayer; leaves or flowers mean life and growth; and the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection. Easter church service begins at midnight and may last until dawn. Another ceremony is the blessing of Easter food baskets in church.
SAINT VLADIMIR (VOLODYMYR) DAY, July 28, recognizes the day in 988 A.D. that King Volodymyr accepted Christianity for his people.
INDEPENDENCE DAY. Since 1991, August 24, Ukrainian Independence Day, has been the year’s major holiday. It was previously celebrated on January 22 to mark the Declaration of Ukrainian Independence in 1918 and the 1919 re-establishment of a united Ukrainian National Republic. Flag-raising ceremonies at Toronto City Hall, and dinners, speeches, and a musical performance highlight the festivities.
UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY, celebrated on the closest Sunday to August 24, is sponsored by Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto Branch.
REMEMBRANCE DAY, November 11, sees Toronto Ukrainians and veterans gather at the Ukrainian Canadian Memorial Park in Etobicoke.
SAINT ANDREW’S DAY. On December 13, Ukrainians recognize their patron saint, Saint Andrew, who is said to have erected a cross on the mount where Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, stands. The slanting bar on the cross of many Ukrainian churches signifies the X-shaped cross on which St. Andrew was crucified.
There are over 50 Ukrainian newspapers, magazines, and bulletins published in Toronto. The major ones are:
MEEST (WEEKLY NEWSPAPER), (Tel. 416-236-2007, Fax 416-236-0321, www.meest.net, 99 Six Point Rd).
HOMIN UKRAINY (UKRAINIAN ECHO), (Tel. 416-516-2443, Fax 416-516-4033, 83 Christie St). A weekly newspaper with a readership of over 10,000. Publisher: W. Okipniuk.
NOVY SHLIAKH (NEW PATHWAY), (Tel. 416-960-3424. 145 Evans Ave). A Ukrainian weekly since 1930, with a readership of 7,000. Editor: Ms. Lesia Panko.
SVITLO (THE LIGHT), (Tel. 416-234-1212, 265 Bering Ave). A monthly Catholic magazine with a readership of 3,000, published by the Basilian Fathers in Canada. Editor: Rev. Basil Cembalsta.
KONTAKT UKRAINIAN TV NETWORK, OMNI-TV, (Tel. 416-260-0047, 545 Lakeshore Blvd., W), Saturday 1:00 p.m to 2:00 p.m. Executive Producer: Jurij Klufas.
UKRAINIAN CANADIAN HERALD (MONTHLY NEWSPAPER), (Tel. 416-534-8635, 962 Bloor St. W). Editor: Lari Prokop.
UKRAINIAN SVITOHLIAD TELEVISION PROGRAM, OMNI-TV, (Tel. 416-260-0047, 545 Lakeshore Blvd. W). Monday, 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and Saturday, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
VISNYK, a quarterly newspaper published by the Ukrainian World Congress, (Tel. 416-323-3020, 145 Evans Ave). Editor: Dr. Wasyl Veryha.
YUNAK MAGAZINE (YOUTH), (Tel. 416-763-2186, 2199 Bloor St. W). Published six times a year with a circulation of 2,000. Editor: O. Zakydalska.
ON LINE, (Tel. 416-925-1256, 620 Spadina Ave). A newsletter published by the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Toronto.
PROMETHEUS. CHIN 100.7 FM, (Tel. 416-531-9991, 622 College St). Monday to Friday, 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
There are more than 200 Ukrainian organizations, societies, and institutions to fill the educational, social, cultural, economic, intellectual, and political needs of the community. The Ukrainian Canadian Committee provides the co-ordination needed for such a large community.
UKRAINIAN CANADIAN CONGRESS, (Tel. 416-323-4772, Fax 416-323-6772, 145 Evans Ave). Established in 1940 as the central coordinating body for the community to protect, enhance, and promote the cultural identity of Ukrainians. This umbrella group includes cultural, religious, and social groups. President: Maria Szkambara. At the same address:
UKRAINIAN WORLD CONGRESS, (Tel. 416-323-3020, Fax 416-323-3250). Promotes and defends the rights of Ukrainians in the international arena, including human, cultural, and political rights. President: Askold Lozynsky.
THE UKRAINIAN PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF TORONTO, (Tel. 416-925-1256, 620 Spadina Ave). Publishes a directory of business and professional people, as well as a monthly newsletter. President: Bohdan Chwyl.
UKRAINIAN CANADIAN SOCIAL SERVICES, (Tel. 416-763-4982, 2445 Bloor St. W). Operates an information bureau to assist the needy, elderly, and immigrants. Volunteers visit the elderly and disabled in their homes, hospitals, and care centres. Weekly discussion groups and seminars are held to promote interest in politics, social services and health issues. President: Merion Barszczyk. Executive Director: George Mujej.
UKRAINIAN CANADIAN ART FOUNDATION, (Tel. 416-766-6802, 2118A Bloor St. W).
UKRAINIAN CANADIAN RESEARCH & DOCUMENTATION CENTRE, (Tel. 416-966-1819, Fax 416-966-1820, 620 Spadina Ave). Includes Ukrainian exhibits on pioneers, famine and famous Ukrainians. Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. President: Prof. Wsevolod Isajiw.
CANADIAN FOUNDATION FOR UKRAINIAN STUDIES, (Tel. 416-766-9639, Fax 416-766-0599, www.cfus.ca, 2336A Bloor St. W., Suite 205). President: Olya Kuplowska.
ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION (UKRAINIAN BRANCH), (Tel. 416-593-0840, #360, 326 Queen St. W). President: J.B. Gregorovich.
CANADIAN FRIENDS OF UKRAINE, (Tel. 416-964-6644, 620 Spadina Ave).
CANADIAN SHEVCHENKO CULTURAL SOCIETY, (Tel. 416-480-2440, 39 Castle Knock Rd). President: Andrew Gregorovich.
CANADIAN UKRAINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, (Tel. 416-234-5334, 302 The East Mall, Unit 609).
CANADIAN UKRAINIAN IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY, (Tel. 416-767-4595, 2150 Bloor St. W., Suite 96).
CIVIL LIBERTIES COMMISSION, UKRAINIAN CANADIAN COMMITTEE, (Tel. 416-767-4595, 2150 Bloor St. W., Suite 96). Chair: John Gregorovich.
PLAST UKRAINIAN YOUTH ASSOCIATION OF CANADA, Toronto Branch, (Tel. 416-769-9998, 2199 Bloor St. W., 2nd floor). Established in 1936, it is an organization similar to the Scouts.
SHEVCHENKO UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY CENTRE, (Tel. 416-255-6249, 482 Horner Ave). Same address: Ukrainian Opera Choir.
ST. VLADIMIR UKRAINIAN INSTITUTE, (Tel. 416-923-3318, 620 Spadina Ave). Home to: Slovo Ukrainian Canadian Writers’ Association; Ukrainian-Canadian Community Women’s Council; the Ukrainian Librarians Association of Canada. The institute publishes Visti News quarterly.
THE UKRAINIAN ACADEMY OF DANCE, Stefura Dance Studios, (Tel. 416-255-8577, 80 Park Lawn Rd., Suite 221).
THE UKRAINIAN CULTURAL CENTRE, (Tel. 416-531-3610, 83 Christie St). Member groups include: League of Ukrainian Canadians, National Executive; League of Ukrainian Women of Canada, National Executive, (Tel. 416-516-8223); Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada, National Executive, (Tel. 416-537-2007); League of Ukrainian Canadians, Toronto Branch, (Tel. 416-533-0244); Ukrainian Youth Association, Toronto Branch, (Tel. 416-533-9014); Dibrova Women’s Choir; Prometheus Male Choir; and Baturyn Marching Band of the Ukrainian Youth Association.
BARVINOK UKRAINIAN DANCE ENSEMBLE. Practices held at St. Mary Dormition Church, (Tel. 905-279-9387, 3625 Cawthra Rd., Mississauga). Artistic Director: Fedir Danylak.
Bloor West Village Ukrainian Festival.
THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL OF ST. VLADIMIR, (Tel. 416-603-3224, 406 Bathurst St). Organizations at St. Vladimir include: Ukrainian Self-Reliance Association, Toronto Branch, founded in 1927; Ukrainian War Veterans’ League; Ukrainian Democratic Youth Association of Canada; Vesnianka Dance Ensemble; Iiarion Dance Ensemble; and Desna Dance Company. The Ukrainian Canadian Women’s Association, Toronto Branch, founded in 1927, focuses on cultural, educational, and charitable work.
YAVIR SCHOOL OF UKRAINIAN DANCE, (Tel. 416-243-3072, 125 La Rose Ave). Artistic Director: Alexander Nebesnyj.
UKRAINIAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, Toronto Branch, (Tel. 416-536-0402, 215 Grenadier Rd). Contact: Wasyl Veryha.
UKRAINIAN LABOUR TEMPLE (AUUC), (Tel. 416-588-1639, 1604 Bloor St.W).