In 1986, about 78 percent of Canadians were descended from people of European ethnicity. The short summaries that follow present information on the population, distribution, Migration history, and cultural persistence of thirty-three European ethnic groups in Canada. Appended to many of these summaries are short lists of publications, most of which are recent studies of a particular ethnic community or a general historical or cultural survey of the ethnic group. The population information in these summaries for 1981 is taken from the 1981 census of Canada, and that for 1986, from the estimates (based on a 20 percent sample) from the 1986 census of Canada as reported in the Canada Year Book 1990,

See also Acadians , Amish , Basques , Doukhobors , French Canadians , Hasidim Jews, Hutterites , Mennonites , Old believers , Ukrainians in Canada

ALBANIANS. In 1981, 1,265 Canadians claimed Albanian ethnic ancestry. This is probably an undercount, as many Albanians do not identify themselves as such and Others identify themselves as Yugoslavians. The distinction Between Gheg and Tosk Albanians, which was significant in pre-World War II Albania, has disappeared in Canada. Most present-day Albanian-Canadians are descendants of Albanians who settled in Canada between 1900 and World War I. Given their small numbers and third-and fourth-generation status, they are now much assimilated into Canadian society. Ethnic identity is expressed mainly within the the context of small family groups.

ARMENIANS. In 1986, an estimated 22,525 Canadians claimed Armenian ancestry, 60 percent of whom lived in the Montreal area and 35 percent in the Toronto-Hamilton area. Armenia is today a unit of the Soviet Union, as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, and in the past Armenians have been under the control of various other peoples, including the Turks, Russians, and Iranians. Armenians began immigrating to Canada in the late 1880s, and by 1915 1,000 Armenians were living in the country. The major period of Armenian immigration came in the 1950s and 1960s when thousands arrived from the Middle East and Mediterranean countries. Many of these were professionals or business People who settled in urban areas. As in other nations where they have settled, Armenian ethnicity remains strong in Canada, centered around the memory of the genocide of 1915-1922 by the Turks and ongoing concern over the possible loss of their traditional homeland. Armenian institutions include the Armenian National Apostolic church, the Armenian National Committee, the Armenian-language press, and Language-maintenance programs.


Kaprielian, Isabel (1987). "Migratory Caravans: Armenian Sojourners in Canada." Journal of American Ethnic History 6:20-38.

AUSTRIANS. In 1986, an estimated 24,900 Canadians claimed Austrian ancestry with over 40 percent living in Ontario. Unlike many other European nations, Austria was not formed on a distinct ethnic population base, and thus Austrians are more accurately described as a nationality rather than an ethnic group. Austrians who have settled in Canada, Including a sizable minority of Jews, have assimilated rapidly into Canadian society and tend to affiliate with the much larger German community.


Keyserlingk, Robert H. (1983). "Policy or Practice: Canada and Austria 1938-1948." In Roots and Realities among Eastern and Central Europeans, edited by Martin L. Kovacs, 25-39. Edmonton, Alberta: Central and East European Studies Association of Canada.

BELGIANS. In 1986, an estimated 28,395 Canadians claimed Belgian ethnic ancestry. The nation of Belgium is inhabited by two distinct groups—the Flemish in the Northwest (in the region commonly called Flanders), who speak a language closely related to Dutch, and the Walloons in the South and Southeast, who speak French. This distinction was maintained in Canada, with the Walloons settling primarily in Quebec and the Flemish settling in Ontario and forming Belgian communities in the western provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Because of their small numbers, wide dispersal, and cultural similarity to British and French Canadians, the Belgians are highly assimilated into Canadian society.


Magee, Joan (1987). The Belgians in Ontario: A History. Toronto and Reading: Dundurn Press.

BYELORUSSIANS. (Belorussians, Kryvians, White Russians, White Ruthenians). Estimates place the number of people of Byelorussian ethnic ancestry in Canada today at from 30,000 to more than 100,000. No accurate count of Canadians of Byelorussian ancestry is possible, as those who arrived prior to World War I were often identified as either Russians or Poles and they were not enumerated separately in the census until 1971. Byelorussia is the region that today is located in the Soviet Union, south and east of Lithuania and Latvia. The Byelorussians arrived in three major waves. Those coming in the first decade of the twentieth century mainly settled in cities in northern Ontario where they worked as industrial laborers. Often identified by themselves and others as Poles, they were rapidly absorbed by the Canadian Polish community. The group that arrived after World War I settled in the prairies where they often established farming communities. The group arriving after World War II were more Educated and skilled than the earlier groups and settled in cities. This latter group is also much involved in maintaining their Byelorussian identity through associations, festivals, Byelorussian publications, and a strong desire for an independent Byelorussian homeland.


Sadouski, John (1981). A History of the Byelorussians in Canada. Belleville, Ontario: Mika Publishing Co.

CROATS. (Croatians). In 1986, an estimated 35,115 Canadians claimed Croat ethnic ancestry. Since it is estimated that at least 75,000 Croats have immigrated to Canada in the twentieth century, this figure is a gross undercount. Most Canadians of Croat ancestry are now identified by themselves or others as simply Canadians or Yugoslavians. (Croatia is one of six republics that form the modern nation of Yugoslavia.) Croats in Canada today are mostly people who immigrated there in the 1900s or are their descendants. The first wave of immigration preceded World War I and consisted mainly of men who took mining, railroad, and logging work in the Western provinces. Those who came between the world wars settled in both rural and urban areas where they established distinctively Croat neighborhoods, displaying many of the communal and cooperative features of the zadruga, the extended family homestead common in rural Croatia. By the 1950s, the Croatian identity of these groups and their Children had eroded, and many had adopted a middle-class lifestyle. After World War II, and especially after 1955, there was a third major immigration of Croats to Canada, which has led to a fragmentation of the Canadian Croat population into the assimilated earlier arrivals and the post-World War II group, which strives to maintain its Croat ethnic identity. The latter group is largely urban; its members have founded new Croatian Catholic churches, economic and political associations, social clubs, and music and art groups, and are served by a revitalized Croatian press, language maintenance programs, and family-based businesses and partnerships that rely on cooperative features of the zadrugas. There is also considerable interest and involvement in efforts to establish an independent Croatian homeland.


Rasporich, A. W. (1982). For a Better Life: A History of the Croatians in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

CZECHS. In 1981, 67,695 Canadians claimed Czechoslovakian ethnic ancestry, but this figure requires a number of qualifications. First, Czechoslovakian is not an ethnic category, but a national one, referring to the citizens of the Modern nation of Czechoslovakia (Czecho-Slovakia), whose two major ethnic groups are the Czechs and the Slovaks. Second, it is likely an underestimate of the number of ethnic Czechs and Slovaks in Canada, as prior to 1918 they were often identified as Austrians or Hungarians. And, third, the number of people of Slovak ancestry is probably two to three times greater than those of Czech ancestry. Substantial Czech Immigration to Canada began in the 1880s, with the first settlers relocating from the United States to form farming Communities in the prairies and to mine in the Rockies. A large number came in the late 1800s and early 1900s, again from the United States, but also now directly from the Czech Region of Austro-Hungary. They settled mainly in Alberta and Manitoba. The greatest influx occurred after World War I, with many of these immigrants working in factories in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Windsor, Hamilton, and Vancouver, though distinctively Czech neighborhoods rarely formed. Following World War II and the establishment of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, more Czechs arrived in Canada. In the absence of ethnic communities, Czech identity was maintained through the church (Roman Catholic and Baptist), economic and political associations, social clubs, and the Czech and Czechoslovakian press. At the same time, Czechs have become well integrated into Canadian society.


Gellner, John, and John Smerek (1968). The Czechs and Slovaks in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Horna, Jarmila L. A. (1979). "The Entrance Status of Czech and Slovak Immigrant Women." In Two Nations, Many Cultures: Ethnic Groups in Canada, edited by Jean L. Elliott, 270-279. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall of Canada.

DANES. In 1986, an estimated 39,950 Canadians claimed Danish ethnic ancestry. Most Danes immigrated to Canada either between 1870 and World War I or in the 1950s. Those who came before World War I moved directly from Denmark or indirectly from Danish settlements in the United States. The former often settled in the Maritime Provinces and Ontario; many of the latter settled in the Prairie provinces. Those who came in the 1950s settled mainly in cities, especially in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. Because many of these immigrants eventually returned to Denmark, the Danish population in Canada has been relatively unstable, doubling in the years between 1951 and 1961 and then decreasing by at least 50 percent between 1961 and 1986. Because of the previous residence of many in the United States, their wide dispersal across Canada, and the Return of many to Denmark, Danes did not develop a distinct ethnic identity in Canada, and most are assimilated into Canadian society.


Paulsen, Frank M. (1974). Danish Settlements on the Canadian Prairies: Folk Traditions, Immigrant Experiences, and Local History. National Museum of Man, Centre for Folk Culture Studies, Paper no. 11. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.

DUTCH. In 1986, an estimated 351,765 Canadians claimed Dutch ethnic ancestry. Of these, 171,151 lived in Ontario, 62,945 in British Columbia, 55,920 in Alberta, and 27,875 in Manitoba. Dutch settlement in Canada can be Divided into three periods. From 1890 to 1914 Dutch emigrated from the United States and the Netherlands mostly to the western provinces where they worked on or established farms. In the 1920s, the Dutch continued to settle in the West, but now sought industrial work in cities in the East as well, especially in southern Ontario. After World War II about 150,000 Dutch settled in cities with a heavy concentration in Ontario. Despite being the sixth largest ethnic group in Canada and the large number of recent arrivals, the Dutch are among the most assimilated of all ethnic groups in Canada. Dutch is rarely spoken anymore, the Dutch Catholic and Protestant churches, with the exception of the Dutch Calvinists, have become Canadian churchs, and associations attract only a minority of Dutch-Canadians. Integration into Canadian society has come through a strong work ethic, a willingness to intermarry, and little attachment to Dutch traditions that are sometimes seen as an impediment to full participation in Canadian life.


Ganzevoort, Herman, and Mark Boekelman, eds. (1983). Dutch Immigration to North America. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Ishwaran, K. (1977). Family, Kinship, and Community: A Study of Dutch Canadians, a Developmental Approach. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

ENGLISH. The number of Canadians of English ethnic ancestry is unknown, as the English are classified as British, along with the Scots, Irish, and Welsh. Estimates from the 1986 census indicate that 6,332,725 Canadians claimed British ethnic ancestry. An additional 2,073,830 claimed mixed British ancestry and 3,401,870 claimed British and other Ethnic ancestry. Prior to 1850, most English immigration to Canada involved soldiers stationed there to combat the French influence, Loyalists who fled north both before and following the American Revolution, and those encouraged to emigrate by the English government. English settlement in Canada accelerated after 1850, with immigrants arriving in three major groups. Between 1867 and 1920 many indigent English children were sent to live in the care of various Societies in Canada. Between 1890 and 1914 many English also settled in the prairies, as did numerous other immigrants. After World War II, English immigration increased again. The English have settled heavily all across Canada, except in Quebec, with major concentrations in the Maritime Provinces, British Columbia, and Ontario. Modern Canadian Society has been shaped in important ways by English institutions; these include the language, the legal system, the parliamentary form of government, the Anglican church, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, social clubs, labor unions, and various cultural activities. Because English customs and beliefs are so common, if not dominant, English immigrants have easily and quickly assimilated into Canadian society.


Arnopoulos, Sheila, and D. Clift (1980). The English Fact in Quebec. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Cowan, Helen (1967). British Immigration to British North America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Dunae, Patrick A. (1981). Gentlemen Emigrants: From the British Public Schools to the Canadian Frontier. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre.

Weaver, Jack W. (1986). Immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland: A Guide to Archival and Manuscript Sources in North America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

ESTONIANS. In 1986, an estimated 13,200 Canadians claimed Estonian ethnic ancestry. Estonians are mostly Recent arrivals in Canada, with 14,310 arriving between 1947 and 1960 and 11,370 of those between 1948 and 1952. Most were displaced persons who fled Estonia in 1944 and afterward for Sweden and Germany and then immigrated to Canada and other nations. The first permanent Estonian settlements were farm communities formed in Alberta in the first decade of the twentieth century. The subsequent arrival of other Canadians led to rapid assimilation into Canadian Society. Today, Estonians are an urban group, with 85 percent living in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, and Vancouver. Many are professionals or entrepreneurs who own small or medium-sized businesses. While participating in Canadian society, the Estonians are attempting to maintain their ethnic identity through clubs, schools, summer camps, credit unions, the Estonian-language press, and associations who maintain contact with similar associations in other nations where Estonians have settled.


Aun, K. (1985). The Political Refugees: A History of the Estonians in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

FINNS. In 1986 an estimated 40,565 Canadians claimed Finnish ethnic ancestry. This is probably a large undercount, with Canadians of Finnish ancestry more likely numbering more than 100,000. Over 50 percent of self-identified Finnish-Canadians live in Ontario, and about 20 percent live in British Columbia. There have been three major eras of Finnish migration to Canada. The small number who came before World War I, either directly from Finland or after Initial settlement in the United States, included some socialists who stressed community cooperation. A major influx occurred after World War I, but these Finns were mainly antisocialist and often formed rural communities centered around the Finnish Lutheran church. Between 1950 and 1960, a third group arrived. More urban and skilled than the earlier settlers, they more often settled in cities. The Finns have been active participants in the Canadian economy and political system. At the same time, a strong Finnish identity has been maintained, especially in smaller towns that were initially settled by Finns emigrating from the same areas in Finland. In the early years, temperance societies, the churches, sports and social clubs, a Finnish-language press, and participation in national organizations were sources of Finnish identity. More recently, as the use of Finnish has declined and the Finns have become economically assimilated, Finnish identity revolves more around such core values as personal freedom, pride, determination, and strongly held political and religious views that both Finns and others see as uniquely Finnish in the Canadian context.


Kami, Michael G., ed. (1981). Finnish Diaspora. Vol. I, Canada, South America, Africa, Australia and Sweden. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Nilsen, Kirsti (1985). The Baker's Daughter: Memoirs of a Finnish Immigrant Family in Timmins. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Roninila, Mike (1987). "Language Retention in the Finnish Identification of Winnipeg's Finnish Population." Siirtolaisuus-Migjation 2:6-11.

GERMANS. In 1986, an estimated 896,720 Canadians claimed German ethnic ancestry. Germans are the third largest ethnic population group in Canada, behind the British and French. German-Canadians are heavily concentrated in the western provinces, with 182,870 in Alberta, 148,280 in British Columbia, 128,850 in Saskatchewan, and 96,160 in Manitoba. There are also 285,155 in Ontario. The majority of German-speaking people who came to Canada emigrated not from territory that is now part of the two German nations but from territory now in other nations such as Austria (and the Austro-Hungarian Enmpire), Switzerland, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United States. German immigration to Canada goes back to the seventeenth century when German soldiers who fought with the French and then the British settled in Canada. In the eighteenth century, German settlement in Canada continued, but then by families from Europe and others resettling from the United States. In the first half of the 1800s most settlement was in Ontario. From about 1880 to World War I immigration was mainly to the western provinces, and it was during this period that many German communities were founded in the West.

Germans have never formed a cohesive ethnic group in Canada. Rather, there have been a number of major divisions within the German population group, including those based on religion (Roman Catholic or Protestant), nation or region of origin, rural or urban settlement in Canada, and social class. In addition, intermarriage with non-Germans has been common, Germans are highly integrated into the Canadian economy, and German identity became less desirable during and after World War I when Germans were often treated as the enemy. Only in the last twenty years as part of the revival of ethnic pluralism in Canada has a strong sense of German ethnic identity reemerged. German ethnicity has perhaps been stronger in rural communities where land is often seen as family property, the traditional division of labor by sex prevails, and children are raised less permissively. Despite their almost full participation in Canadian society, Germans are generally not seen by experts as fully assimilated, perhaps Because of their large numbers and also because of their large concentrations and visibility in the western provinces.

As much as 25 percent of the German-Canadian population is of German-Russian (Russian-German, Germans from Russia) ancestry. They are German-speaking peoples whose ancestors settled in the Volga and Black Sea regions of Russia in the 1700s. In the late 1800s, many of them left Russia in order to find political and religious freedom elsewhere, some of them in western Canada. Others arrived later, after World I and again after World War II. Because of their rural background in Russia and settlement of farm communities in western Canada, they are perhaps somewhat less assimilated than other German-Canadians.

See also Amish , Austrians , European-Americans (Pennsylvania Dutch , Sorbs) , Hutterites , Mennonites , Swiss


Bassler, Gerhard (1986). The German Canadians, 1750-1937: Immigration, Settlement and Culture. Translated by Heinz Lehmann. St John's, Newfoundland: Jesperson Press.

Eberhardt, Elvire (1985). "The Growth of the German Population in Medicine Hat, Alberta, from 1885 to the Present." Deutsch Kanadisches ]ahrbuch/German-Canadian Yearbook 6:62-65.

Helling, Rudolf A. (1984). A Socio-Economic History of German-Canadians: They, Too, Founded Canada. Edited by Bernd Hamm. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Kloberdanz, Timothy J. (1988). "Symbols of German-Russian Ethnie Identity on the Northern Plains." Great Plains Quarterly 8:3-15.

Lee-Whiting, Brenda (1985). Harvest of Stones: The German Seulement in Renfrew County. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

GREEKS. In 1986 an estimated 143,780 Canadians claimed Greek ethnic ancestry. Of these, 80,320 lived in Ontario, 47,450 in Quebec, and 7,295 in British Columbia. Most Greeks came to Canada after 1900, with perhaps no more than 1,000 arriving before then. From 1900 to 1945 Greek immigration to Canada was relatively steady, with Greeks generally settling in cities. After 1945, in reaction to the political and economic instability in Greece, the immigration increased, leading to the formation of distinct neighborhoods with a strong sense of Greek identity in cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. With the Greek population today composed of many of these post-World War II immigrants and their children, Greeks remain relatively unassimilated into Anglo-Canadian society. Greek is still spoken by many of them, they have a relatively low level of identification with Canadian society, they tend to socialize mostly with other Greeks, and they are not highly integrated into the work force. Factors leading to the persistence of Greek Culture include Greek schools, the Greek Orthodox church, the family and its strong resistance to exogamy, the Greek-language press, and the survival of Greek neighborhoods. In addition, traditional Greek values focusing on hard work, economic cooperation, and family authority have been maintained while more mainstream Canadian values have been rejected. Although the Greeks in Canada form a relatively homogeneous cultural group, it should be noted that the Macedonians are culturally distinct and see themselves as a separate ethnie group. In 1986 there were an estimated 11,355 Canadians of Macedonian ancestry, with nearly all residing in Ontario.


Chimbos, Peter D. (1980). The Canadian Odyssey: The Greek Experience in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Chimbos, Peter D. (1987). "Occupational Distribution and Social Mobility of Greek-Canadian Immigrants." Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 14:131-143.

Constantinides, Stephanos (1983). Les Grecs du Québec. Montreal: Les Éditions Le Métèque.

Ioannov, Tina (1983). La Communauté Grecque du Québec. Quebec: Quebecoise Recherche sur la Culture.

Vasiliadis, Peter (1988). Whose Are You? Identity and Ethnicity among the Toronto Macedonians. New York: AMS Press.

HUNGARIANS. In 1986, an estimated 97,850 Canadians claimed Hungarian ethnic ancestry. Of these, 51,255 lived in Ontario, 12,780 in Alberta, and 13,000 in British Columbia. Hungarian immigration to Canada has taken place in three stages. From 1885 to World War I, Hungarian peasants, many of whom moved north from the United States, established rural farming communities in the plains. Settlement was so concentrated in Saskatchewan that before 1914 it was labeled Little Hungary. Between World Wars I and II, Hungarian immigrants settled in cities across Canada, leading to a more dispersed and more urban Hungarian Population. Following World War II, Hungarian immigration increased again and included Jews, Nazi sympathizers, anticommunists, and those who fled after the 1956 revolution. These new arrivals have produced a far more heterogeneous Hungarian population and have stimulated a revitalization of Hungarian ethnicity manifested in schools, clubs, theater and dance groups, and a Hungarian-language press. At the same time, the internal diversity has hindered a broad sense of shared Hungarian identity.


Blumstock, Robert (1985). "Est Vita Hungariam: Hungarians in Canada." Hungarian Studies Review 12(1):33-41.

Dreisziger, N. F. (1985). "The Hungarian Experience in Toronto." Hungarian Studies Review 12:1-88.

Dreisziger, N. F., with M. L. Kovacs, Paul Bödy, and Bennett Kovrig (1982). Struggle and Hope: The Hungarian-Canadian Experience, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Miska, John, comp. (1987). Canadian Studies on Hungarians, 1886-1986: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina.

ICELANDERS. Contemporary Icelanders are descendants of Norwegians who migrated to Iceland and established an independent republic there in A.D. 874. After failed attempts in 1873 and 1874 to establish settlements in Quebec and Ontario, a group of Icelanders settled in the interlake region of what is today Manitoba in 1875 where they founded the republic of "New Iceland." Later arrivals settled in and around Winnipeg where they were joined by people moving south from New Iceland. When the boundaries of Manitoba were extended northward, New Iceland became part of the province.

The major unifying feature among Icelanders in Canada has been their rich oral and written literary tradition, with many sagas recounting the settling of Iceland in the ninth century. Icelanders are partially assimilated into Canadian society in that most speak English as their primary language, are highly educated, intermarry readily, and often hold professional positions. At the same time, a long history of factionalism involving kin group and regional distinctions, Lutherans versus Unitarians, and political differences has kept much of the group focus inward and helped maintain Icelander identity.


Lindal, Walter J. (1967). The Icelanders in Canada. Ottawa and Winnipeg: National Publishers and Viking Printers.

Matthiasson, John S. (1979). "The Icelandic Canadians: The Paradox of an Assimilated Ethnic Group." In Two Nations, Many Cultures: Ethnic Groups in Canada, edited by Jean L. Elliott, 195-205. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall of Canada.

IRISH. There are at least 2 million people of Irish ethnic ancestry in Canada today. The exact number of Irish-Canadians is unknown, as the many descendants of Irish Immigrants who arrived in the early 1880s are now assimilated into Canadian society and no longer see themselves as Members of a distinct ethnic group. The Irish have been a sizable population and major contributor to Canadian society since Canada was under French control in the seventeenth Century. But the major period of Irish immigration was the first half of the nineteenth century. Those who came before 1840 tended to settle in the Maritime Provinces where they often worked as laborers. Those who came after 1847, the "Famine Irish," more often settled in towns and cities across Canada, but especially in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces and less so in the West.

The Irish who came to Canada included both Protestants and Roman Catholics who represented different cultural traditions and experienced different assimilation processes. The Protestants associated with the British tradition and quickly and easily assimilated into British Canadian Society. There probably never was and certainly is not now a distinct Protestant Irish ethnic group in Canada. Many of the Catholics arrived later than the Protestants, were less Educated and less well-off economically, and were at odds with both the Protestants and the Catholic French-Canadians, making assimilation more difficult. Nevertheless, assimilation did occur for several reasons: they spoke English, the Catholic church was a major force in Canadian society, and, from the 1860s on, many Irish Catholics moved south to the United States. Thus, Irish urban neighborhoods rarely formed in Canada. Today, both the Protestants and the Catholics are integrated socially, economically, and Politically into Canadian society.


Akenson, Donald H. (1984). The Irish in Ontario: A Study in Rural History. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Elliott, Bruce S. ( 1988). Irish Migrants in the Canadas: A New Approach. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Nicolson, Murray W. (1985). "The Irish Experience in Ontario: Rural or Urban?" Urban History Review/Revue d'Histoire Urbaine 14:37-45.

O'Driscoll, Robert, and Lorna Reynolds, eds. (1988). The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada. 2 vols. Toronto: Celtic Arts of Canada.

ITALIANS. In 1986, an estimated 709,590 Canadians claimed Italian ethnic ancestry. Italians are the fourth largest ethnic group in Canada. They are a largely urban group with the largest concentrations in 1981 in Toronto (297,205) and Montreal (156,535) and sizable communities in Hamilton, Vancouver, St. Catherines, Windsor, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. Although Italian contact with Canada goes back to the late fifteenth century, most immigration occurred Between either 1900 and 1914 or 1950 and 1970, with the majority of Italian-Canadians having entered or descended from people who entered in the latter period. Over 90 percent of Italian-Canadians are Roman Catholics. About three-quarters of all immigrants came from southern Italy, mainly from Abruzzi-Molise and Calabria, and the majority were peasants.

Italians have participated in and contributed to Canadian society, but they have also resisted assimilation and in important ways remain a distinct cultural group. Ethnic associations, clubs, the Roman Catholic church, the Italian press, and language programs have all played a role since the early 1900s in maintaining Italian ethnicity. Perhaps more Important were the Italian neighborhoods ("Little Italies") that formed in cities with large Italian populations. These communities were often based on extended family and nuclear family ties as well as ties to regions and villages in Italy that provided a social context in which basic core values such as loyalty, reciprocity, respect for the elderly, and family honor could be expressed. Although there has been considerable population relocation to the suburbs and second- and third-generation Italian-Canadians have moved rapidly up the socioeconomic ladder, kin and family ties and obligations remain strong as does a shared sense of Italian identity.


Campenella, M., ed. (1977). Proceedings of Symposium 77: On the Economic, Social and Cultural Conditions of the Italian Canadian in the Hamilton-Wentworth Region. Hamilton: Italian Canadian Federation of Hamilton.

Harney, Robert F. (1978). Italians in North America. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Multicultural Society of Ontario (1985). "Italians in Ontario." Polyphony 7(2):1-147.

Razzolini, Maria (1983). "All Our Fathers: The North Italian Colony in Industrial Cape Breton." Ethnic Heritage Series 8:1-55.

Sturino, Franc, comp. (1988). Italian-Canadian Studies: A Select Bibliography. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Zucchi, John E. (1988). Italians in Toronto: Development of a National Identity. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

LATVIANS. In 1986, an estimated 12,615 Canadians were Latvians—people who trace their ethnic identity to the territory that is now the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. Latvian is an Indo-European language closely related only to Lithuanian. Most Latvians in Canada are immigrants who arrived after World War II, many of them classified as displaced persons seeking refuge from war-ravaged Europe and Soviet rule. Most settled in Ontario and especially in Toronto where many who were professionals integrated easily into the Canadian work force. Because of their recent arrival and strong Latvian nationalistic feelings, they have resisted cultural assimilation and have formed associations, clubs, language schools, and churches (mostly Lutheran). Latvian culture is a mix of native, Slavic, Scandinavian, and German elements that have been combined over the centuries into a unique Latvian cultural tradition. To outsiders, Latvian culture is most notable for its rich collection of folk songs ( dainas), unique art and design motifs, and native peasant dress.

LITHUANIANS. In 1986 an estimated 14,625 Canadians claimed Lithuanian ethnic ancestry. Lithuanians are People from the territory that is now the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union. Lithuanian-Canadians can be divided roughly into those or the descendants of those who arrived before World War II and those who came after. Many of those who arrived before World War II (mainly early in the century and in the 1920s and 1930s) settled initially in rural areas, but many eventually relocated to cities (usually Toronto and Montreal) where the men often worked in factories. Those who came after World War II numbered about 20,000 and were primarily displaced persons and refugees. They tended to settle in cities, with most Lithuanians now in Ontario but some also in Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia. Lithuanian ethnic identity remains strong in Canada, with perhaps a majority still speaking Lithuanian, a strong sense of national community, and numerous well-organized clubs, associations, and societies that promote Lithuanian identity, culture, and language.


Danys, Milda (1986). Lithuanian Immigration to Canada after the Second World War. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

NORWEGIANS. In 1986, an estimated 61,575 Canadians claimed Norwegian ethnic ancestry. During the nineteenth century hundreds of thousands of Norwegians immigrated to Canada, although very few stayed as most continued on to the United States. The Norwegians who settled in Canada did so mostly before 1930. From 1886 to 1929, Norwegians arriving from both Norway and the United States settled mostly in rural communities in the western provinces where they farmed, logged, mined, and worked for railroads. The rate of Norwegian immigration increased again after World War II but decreased and has remained low since about 1960. Up to about fifty years ago, Norwegians maintained a strong sense of ethnic identity centered around the rural communities, membership in the Lutheran church, associations and clubs, and ties to the Norwegian community in the United States. Over time, however, the effects of relocations to cities, intermarriage, public education, and the use of English in place of Norwegian have led to assimilation into Canadian society. In recent years there has been a marked revival of Norwegian ethnic identity, tied less to the past and the traditional culture than to an association with the Modern nation of Norway.


Loken, Gulbrand (1980). From Fjord to Frontier: A History of the Norwegians in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

POLES. In 1986, an estimated 222,260 Canadians claimed Polish ethnic ancestry. Of these, 117,570 lived in Ontario, 28,500 in Alberta, 19,305 in British Columbia, 18,835 in Quebec, and 13,325 in Saskatchewan. Nearly 90 percent of Poles live in urban centers, with Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Vancouver having the largest numbers. Today, there are no uniquely Polish urban ghettos nor any Polish rural communities. In the early years of immigration, Poles were often distinguished as Kashubians, Galicians, German Poles, and so on. These distinctions have now largely disappeared. The first wave of Polish immigration took place from 1858 to 1913, with most arriving after 1895 and settling on farms in the prairie provinces. Those who arrived in the interwar years also settled on the prairies. The end of World War II brought a third wave of Polish immigrants, including many men who had served in the Polish military, displaced persons, and refugees. From 1957 on, Poles have continued to settle in Canada, many immigrating in search of better economic conditions and Political freedom. Most of the post-World War II immigrants have settled in cities, about half in Ontario. The Roman Catholic church (about 70 percent of Canadian Poles are Roman Catholic; others are mainly United church or Polish Catholic) and various Polish associations and clubs have played a major role in maintaining Polish ethnic identity. There is considerable variation within the group regarding the strength of Polish identity, with the strongest identity expressed by those who have arrived since World War II and share an interest in and concern about the Polish homeland.


Boski, Pawel (1987). "On Turning Canadian or Remaining Polish: Stability and the Change of Ethnic Identity among Polish Immigrants to Canada." Przeglad Polonijny 13:25-54, 128.

Heydenkorn, Benedykt (1985). A Community in Transition: The Polish Group in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Polish Research Institute.

Kusharska, Jadwiga (1986). "Kaszubi W Kanadzie: Mechanizmy Identyfikacji Ethniczncj" (Kashubs in Canada: The mechanism of ethnic identification). Etnografia Polska 30:163-179.

Radecki, Henry, and Benedykt Heydenkorn (1976). A Member of a Distinguished Family: The Polish Group in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Renkiewicz, Frank, ed. (1984). Polish Presence in Canada and America. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

PORTUGUESE. In 1986, an estimated 199,595 Canadians claimed Portuguese ethnic ancestry, with about 139,220 living in Ontario, 29,700 in Quebec, and 15,535 in British Columbia. About 38 percent live in Toronto. The Portuguese have been coming to maritime Canada since the late 1400s, first as explorers and later as fishermen. Few actually settled there, however, and in 1951 there were only about 1,000 Portuguese in Canada. After 1950, Canada became a preferred place for Portuguese settlement, and large numbers of Immigrants arrived from mainland Portugal and the Azores. Much of the migration was in the form of chains of extended family members who formed communities and neighborhoods populated mostly by people from the same communities or Regions in Portugal. Portuguese communities are mainly working class (the first generation often found only unskilled work), although there has been a steady movement into small-business ownership, and jobs in the service, technical, and professional sectors. With nearly all Portuguese being either first- or second-generation Canadians, ethnic identity remains strong and is a major concern of the first generation. This identity is reflected mainly in Portuguesismo, "being Portuguese." Among central elements of this identity are a strong sense of family, distinct sex roles, respect for the Elderly, and food and music preferences. At the same time, However, a strong pan-Canadian Portuguese cohesiveness has not developed, perhaps because Portuguese regional distinctions are still important and because of the social class cleavages appearing in the Portuguese community.


Anderson, Grace M., and Davis Higgs (1976). A Future to Inherit: The Portuguese Communities of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Joy, Annamma (1988). Ethnicity in Canada: Social Accommodation and Cultural Persistence among the Sikhs and the Portuguese. New York: AMS Press.

ROMANIANS (Roumanians, Rumanians). In 1986, 18,745 Canadians claimed Romanian ethnic ancestry. This is probably an undercount, as some who arrived around the turn of the twentieth century came from Austria, Hungary, and Russia and were not listed as Romanian. The largest number of Romanians live in Ontario (7,385), with concentrations also in Saskatchewan (2,695), Alberta (2,790), and British Columbia (1,840). The major periods of Romanian immigration to Canada were the late 1880s to World War I, the 1920s, and post-World War II. Early immigrants settled in rural communities mainly in the western provinces, whereas the post-World War II group more often settled in cities in Ontario. The Romanian Orthodox church, the Romanian press, and local units of national organizations have long provided a focus for Romanian identity, but such identity has weakened in recent years, especially in urban areas, where many post-World War II immigrants settled.


Patterson, G. James (1977). The Romanians of Saskatchewan: Four Generations of Adaptation. National Museum of Man, Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies, Paper no. 23. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.

RUSSIANS. In 1986, an estimated 32,080 Canadians claimed Russian ethnic ancestry. Russians in Canada live mainly in the western provinces, with 14,170 in British Columbia (many of whom are Doukhobors), 4,185 in Alberta, 4,130 in Saskatchewan, and 1,755 in Manitoba. There are also 5,780 in Ontario. Russians in Canada represent a number of distinct groups: (1) White Russians who fled after the Russian Revolution in 1917, (2) Old Believers, (3) Doukhobors, (4) Russians from Poland, (5) Russian peasants, (6) displaced persons and refugees after World War II, and (7) Russian Jews. Russian Immigration to Canada began in the late eighteenth century with fur trappers and traders in Alaska, then a Russian territory, and on the Pacific coast; they, however, moved elsewhere after the sale of Alaska to the United States. After the Russian Revolution a large number immigrated to Canada, as did many displaced persons and refugees after World War II. Most of these latter two groups settled in cities. Russians have never formed a cohesive ethnic entity in Canada, partly because of internal variations and partly because of the relatively few Russians who have arrived in the past forty years. In those areas where a sense of Russian identity does exist, it tends to center on participation in the Russian Orthodox church or in anticommunist Organizations.

See also Byelorussians, Doukhobors , Estonians , Jews , Latvians , Lithuanians , Old Believers , Ukrainians in Canada


Jeletzky, T. F., ed. (1983). Russian Canadians, Their Past and Present. Ottawa: Borealis Press.

Jones, David C. (1987). "So Pretty, So Middle Europe, So Foreign—Ruthenians and Canadianization." History of Education Review 16:13-30.

Tarasoff, Koozma J. (1988). Spells, Splits, and Survival in a Russian Canadian Community: A Study of Russian Organizations in the Greater Vancouver Area. New York: AMS Press.

SCOTS. The number of Canadians of Scottish ethnic ancestry is unknown, as the Scots are classified as British, along with the English, Irish, and Welsh. Estimates from the 1986 census indicate that 6,332,725 Canadians claimed British ethnic ancestry. An additional 2,073,830 claimed mixed British ancestry and 3,401,870 claimed British and other ethnic ancestry. In 1961, 1,894,000 Canadians claimed Scottish ancestry. The earliest sizable groups of Scottish settlers were the men from the Orkney Islands who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company in western Canada and soldiers who served in the British army. From 1770 to 1815a substantial number of Roman Catholic, Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots settled in eastern Canada where their distinctive communities continued to exist for a number of generations, though most have now disappeared into mainstream society. Since about 1815, Scottish migration to Canada has been dominated by the Protestant, English-speaking Lowland Scots who have settled all across Canada except for Newfoundland and Quebec. Since that time Scots have constituted about 10 percent of the Canadian population. Scots have been successful at both playing a major role in the development of Canadian society and maintaining a distinct sense of ethnic identity. Scots have participated in all areas of Canadian life but have been most visible in the religious, educational, business, and Political sectors where they have brought such values as respect for education, intellectual inquiry, hard work, and thrift into the Canadian national culture. Today, Scottish identity is manifested through proud self-identification as a Scot as well as Scottish literary traditions, music, dance, sports such as curling, and educational and other institutions.


Emmerson, Frank (1987). Peoples of the Maritimes: The Scots. Four East Publications.

Hill, Douglas (1972). The Scots in Canada. London: Gentry Books.

McRae, Ellen (1986). "The Glens of Glengarry: 'Aye, 'Tis Not Scotland, but, Achh Now It'll Do!'" Canadian Geographical Journal 106:66-71.

Reid, W. Stanford, ed. (1976). The Scottish Tradition in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

SERBS. In 1986, an estimated 9,510 Canadians claimed Serbian ethnic ancestry. They are people from the territory that is now Serbia, one of the six republics of the modern nation of Yugoslavia. Serbs in Canada, since they first arrived, have been sometimes misidentified, first as Hungarians, Austrians, or Turks, and later as Yugoslavians (a political, not a cultural category). Thus, the figure above underestimates the number of people of Serbian ancestry in Canada. Serbs began immigrating to Canada (both from Serbia and other regions of Yugoslavia and later from the United States) in 1850, and those who arrived before the early 1900s settled mainly in the western provinces. Those who arrived afterward—before World War I, between the wars, and since World War II—have more often settled in cities in Ontario. Serbian identity remains strong in Canada and is supported by associations, clubs, societies, Serbian-language radio, numerous publications, and the Serbian Orthodox church. The majority of Serbs in Canada still speak Serbian.


Skoric, Sofija, and George Vid Tomashevich, eds. (1987—1988). Serbs in Ontario: A Socio-Cultural Description. Toronto: Serbian Heritage Academy.

SLOVAKS. In 1981, 67,695 Canadians claimed Czechoslovakian ethnic ancestry. This figure requires a number of qualifications. First, Czechoslovakian is not an ethnic category, but a national one, referring to the citizens of the Modern nation of Czechoslovakia (Czecho-Slovakia), whose two major ethnic groups are the Czechs and the Slovaks. Second, it is likely an underestimate of the number of ethnic Czechs and Slovaks in Canada, as prior to 1918 they were often identified as Austrians or Hungarians. And, third, the number of people of Slovak ancestry is probably two to three times greater than those of Czech ancestry, with 43,070 Canadians being identified as of Czech ancestry in 1981. Slovaks came to and settled in Canada during four periods. Those who came first, from 1885 to World War I, settled in the West, where they farmed, mined, and worked for railroads. The Second group came after World War I, and they too farmed and mined, settling in the West and also in Ontario and Quebec. The third and fourth waves of immigration took place after World War II and after the revolt against communist rule in 1968 and brought displaced persons and refugees to Canada. Although more than a third of the Slovaks in Canada have married non-Slovaks and Slovaks value Canadian citizenship, the Slovaks remain a distinct ethnic group. Their ethnic identity has been maintained in a variety of ways, including participation in ethnic organizations and church parishes and a shared concern about their homeland.


Kirschbaum, Joseph M. (1967). Slovaks in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Ethnic Press Association.

Stolarik, M. Mark (1988). "From Field to Factory: The Historiography of Slovak Immigration to the U.S. and Canada (1976-1987)." Ethnic Forum 8:23-39.

Sutherland, Anthony X. (1984). The Canadian Slovak League: A History, 1932-1982. Toronto: Canadian Slovak League.

SLOVENES. (Slovenians). In 1986, an estimated 5,890 Canadians claimed Slovenian ethnic ancestry. Slovenes are people from the territory that is now Slovenia, one of the six republics of the modern nation of Yugoslavia. Slovenes in Canada, since they first arrived, have been sometimes misidentified, first as Hungarians, Italians, or Turks, and later as Yugoslavians (a political, not a cultural category). Thus, the figure above underestimates the number of people of Slovenian ancestry in Canada. Slovenian immigration to Canada can be divided into two periods: before and after World War II. Those who came before the war, especially in the late 1800s and early 1900s, settled mainly in rural Communities, often in the western provinces. Many of those who came after World War II were political refugees who settled mainly in cities, especially Toronto. They have stimulated a revival of Slovenian ethnic identity, centered around their Roman Catholic parishes and anticommunist sentiments.

SPANIARDS. In 1986, an estimated 57,125 Canadians claimed Spanish ethnic ancestry. This figure includes both Spaniards and Latinos. Spaniards are people who migrated Directly from Spain (perhaps with a short stop elsewhere) or whose ancestors did so. They should be differentiated from Latinos who are people of Latin American ancestry. But Because Spanish immigrants either have not been counted at all or were at times lumped with Latinos, it is impossible to say how many Spaniards have settled in Canada. The major population centers are Ontario and Quebec, with 78 percent of the Spanish population in those two provinces. For the most part, Spanish immigrants and their descendants have rapidly assimilated into Canadian society, and no strong sense of Spanish identity or culture has ever emerged. Assimilation has been especially rapid in French Canada. This is in part because Spaniards were few in number compared to other immigrant groups also arriving in the twentieth century and also because regional cultural identities (Galician, Catalonian, and so on) were more important in Spain than a sense of a national culture.

See also Latinos


Anderson, Grace M. (1979). "Spanish and Portuguese-Speaking Immigrants in Canada." In Two Nations, Many Cultures: Ethnie Groups in Canada, edited by Jean L. Elliott, 206-219. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall of Canada.

SWEDES. In 1981, 78,360 Canadians claimed Swedish ethnic ancestry. The major period of Swedish settlement in Canada was from 1868 to 1914. Most of these people came after having first settled in Minnesota and North Dakota. In Canada, they settled mainly in the western provinces, with Winnipeg becoming the hub of Swedish activities and British Columbia today having the largest Swedish population. The majority of these early settlers were farmers, although many of their descendants have moved to cities where they work in industry and business. Other, smaller influxes of Swedes followed World Wars I and II, with these people settling mainly in Ontario. The rural Swedish communities were joined Together through various organizations including the Swedish Lutheran church, labor unions, temperance groups, societies, and clubs. Today, Swedes are much assimilated into Canadian society, a result of their movement to cities, active participation in the public education system, and the relatively few new arrivals in the last few decades.

SWISS. In 1986, an estimated 19,130 Canadians claimed Swiss ethnic ancestry. Ontario is home to the largest number, followed by British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. The Swiss came to Canada from both Switzerland and the United States, and a substantial number arrived before the twentieth century. The majority were from the German-speaking region of Switzerland, and they tended to affiliate with Germans in Canada; those from the French-speaking region affiliated with French-Canadians. Today, a strong sense of Swiss identity has disappeared, and the Swiss are generally assimilated into Canadian society.

See also Mennonites

WELSH. In 1981, 46,620 Canadians claimed Welsh Ethnic ancestry. This is almost certainly a large undercount (only twenty years earlier nearly three times as many claimed Welsh ethnicity) and is mostly the result of many Welsh being classified as British or as English (they had departed from Liverpool) . Welsh immigration to Canada began with Welsh soldiers who served with the British in the American Revolution. The influx peaked after 1862 when gold miners settled in British Columbia, in 1902 when the Patagonian Welsh relocated from Argentina, after World War I, after World War II, and in the mid-1950s. The Welsh in Canada have never formed a national organization, although local societies and associations have existed since the early days of settlement in Canada. Perhaps the most visible signs of Welsh identity today are the Gymanfa Ganu (hymn-singing festival) and eisteddfod (arts festival) regularly held by various Welsh societies. In general, the Welsh lump themselves and are lumped by others under the general category of British, and, as such, are much assimilated into Canadian society.


Bennett, Carol (1985). In Search of the Red Dragon: The Welsh in Canada. Renfrew, Ontario: Juniper Books.

Thomas, Peter (1986). Strangers from a Secret Land: The Voyages of the Brig "Albion" and the Founding of the First Welsh Settlements in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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