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Macedonians in Canada

At the turn of the 19th 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.

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.

Stephen Harper Celebrates the United Macedonian's Anniversary
The United Macedonians annual Gotse Delchev Evening, held in the year of the 50th Jubilee of the organization took place on Saturday February 7, in the Clement Room of the Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral St. Clement of Ohrid in Toronto. The 500 attendees were honoured with the presence of the Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable, Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper is the first Canadian Prime Minister to attend an event organized by the United Macedonians or to visit the first and largest Macedonian cathedral in Canada.

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