125 Years of Ukrainian Immigration to Canada


In 1891, two Ukrainian men, Ivan Pylypiw and Wasyl Eleniak, immigrated to Canada. These two men are considered to be the first Ukrainian settlers in Canada and were among the first wave of immigration of 170,000 rural farmers who left their homes in Galicia and Bukovyna to come to Canada. This first wave of immigration ended in 1914.


Galician Immigrants, circa 1911 (photo by W. J. Topley) thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

With the outbreak of the First World War, immigration virtually ceased and unnaturalized Ukrainians were classified as “enemy aliens” by the Canadian government. At the same time, over 10,000 Ukrainians enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Between both world wars, some 70,000 Ukrainians immigrated to Canada for political and economic reasons. They included war veterans, intellectuals, and professionals, as well as rural farmers. Between 1947 and 1954, some 34,000 Ukrainians, displaced by the Second World War, arrived in Canada. Representing all Ukrainian territories, they were the most complex socioeconomic group.

A young Ukrainian girl feeds the chickens on her parents' farm close to Usherville. Photo credit: saskarchives.com

A young Ukrainian girl feeds the chickens on her parents’ farm close to Usherville. Photo credit: saskarchives.com

While the Prairie Provinces absorbed the bulk of the first two waves of immigration, displaced persons settled mainly in Ontario. From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, only a few Ukrainians entered the country annually. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, limited renewed immigration from Poland and the Soviet Union saw perhaps 10,000 ethnic Ukrainians and Soviet Ukrainian Jews come to Canada. Since 1991, a modest but growing number of immigrants have come to Canada from Ukraine, largely because of the country’s political and economic instability. From 2004 to 2013, Canada welcomed 23,623 new permanent residents from Ukraine.


To commemorate 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, the UCC is collecting photographs of these new Canadians, your family members. Search through your photo albums and look for that special picture that captures a unique moment in the history of this nation. Email your photo with a brief description of the photo (who, when, what were the circumstances, place of arrival, and place of settlement) to Lesia Demkowicz at lesia@ucc.ca


For a wonderful silent movie about Ukrainian immigrants in Saskatchewan, visit the SaskArchives.

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