(Hungarian: Kanadai magyarok) are persons in Canada of Hungarian
ancestry. According to the 2016 Census, there are 348,085 Canadians of
Hungarian ancestry. The Hungarian minority is the 24th largest ethnic
group of Canada.
Most Hungarians living
in Canada today arrived in the country as refugees after the anti-Soviet
revolution in Hungary in 1956. Never before or since had they come in
such large numbers. However, there are also Hungarian-Canadians whose
ancestors came to this country over hundred years ago, and many who
arrived here since the late 1950s. In recent Canadian population
censuses, over 120,000 of Canada's residents claimed Hungarian as their
ancestry. The greatest concentrations are in metropolitan centres, in
particular in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The immigrants who came before the 1930s were mainly economic migrants.
They tried to escape poverty in some parts of the Hungarian countryside
as well as an antiquated social system in which poor peasants enjoyed
little or no respect. Those who came later were predominantly political
refugees who wanted to escape political persecution and/or foreign
domination in their homeland. Many of the 1956 refugees feared
retaliation by the Soviet authorities and their Hungarian allies for
their participation in, or even just sympathy for a revolt against
communist rule. Many of the Hungarians who had come to Canada in recent
decades came because they felt discriminated against in the neighbouring
states that have Hungarian minorities.
The majority of Hungarian immigrants to Canada have been Roman
Catholics, modern Hungary's population belonging mainly to the Roman
Catholic Church. There were also many Eastern-rite Catholics especially
among the pre-1930s immigrants. After the Second World War, Protestants
were no longer under-represented among the Hungarians that came to this
country. Jews usually made up a very small portion of Hungarian
immigration. The most significant exception to this trend happened
during 1956-57 when several thousand people of Jewish background came to
Canada with the influx of the refugees.
Early Hungarian immigrants found it arduous to adjust to the life of
pioneer homesteaders on the Canadian prairies. Lacking a good education
and knowledge of English, the agricultural workers who came in pre-1914
or during interwar years were usually doomed to manual labour. Still,
through hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, some of them managed to
prosper. Many members of the "old immigration" for example, became
tobacco farmers in southern Ontario. Most of the newcomers of the Second
World War era had a somewhat easier time in "getting ahead" in Canada.
Many of them had a better education than the early arrivals, some of
them had marketable skills, and most of them found it easier to learn
English (or French) since they had been exposed to learning new
languages either in the Hungarian school system or in their travels as
displaced persons or refugees in Europe and elsewhere.
Helping Hungarian newcomers in the process of adjustment to Canadian
life were the immigrant institutions Hungarians created in Canada. One
of the most important of these were ethnic churches, as well as
self-help associations. But, for those who immigrated in the mid and
late twentieth century, help in integration was done through non-ethnic
mainstream associations, belonging to professional organizations or
through the help of ordinary Canadians and immigrant serving agencies.
Today, Hungarian immigrants and their descendants contribute to many
spheres of Canadian life. Remarkable contributions have been made to
such diverse fields as statistical analysis, forestry science,
cinematography, business, finance, computer technology, music and
sports. Some sports, such as water polo and fencing were introduced to
Canada in a competitive way by Hungarians.
Hungarians, active in many aspects of intellectual and cultural life,
value the culture they brought with them. This includes the cultural
artefacts they created once in their new homeland or those they brought
here from their ancestral lands. Some of these can now be discovered in
the collection of Canada's Museum of Civilization.
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Canada-Hungary Educational Foundation
The Canada-Hungary Educational Foundation
/ Fondation éducative Canada-Hongrie (CHEF), a registered educational
charity, was set up in December 2005 to create awareness for Canada’s
role in accepting close to 40,000 Hungarian refugees in 1956-57 and
highlighting the contributions those refugees eventually made to
The short-term focus of the Foundation is on the 50th anniversary of
this refugee movement, and the story of their integration - and that of
the wider Hungarian Canadian community - into Canadian society. In the
longer term, the Foundation will explore the centrality of the refugee
experience to Canadian society and identity through educational
projects. This website is such a project.
The Foundation's objective in developing this site is to foster an
appreciation among Canadians of the important role which Canada has
played in accepting refugees. It strives to educate Canadians, and
indeed people around the world - for websites have no borders - about
the positive aspects of the refugee experience and the inestimable value
of the contribution of refugees and their descendants to Canadian
society. The anniversary year 2006-7 provided a good opportunity for
CHEF to draw attention to this by undertaking a number of activities,
often in partnership with others. Some of these activities are described
on this new website.
Very Capable Life
The autobiography of Zarah Petri by John Leigh Walters (pdf)