Ukrainian Settlement in Manitoba
by Darlene Litchie - August, 2003

 

A rather substantial wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada began in 1891 (although Mennonite people had come to Canada from Ukraine beforehand and although many Ukrainians had previously immigrated to the United States and to South America as well).
Encouraged by reports from fellow country men and inveigled by the advertisements of the Canadian Government, those initial Ukrainians came to Canada in search of land and opportunity. The first Ukrainian block settlement in Canada was at Edna-Starr in Alberta, another significant Ukrainian block settlement was at Dauphin in Manitoba. In 1892 a group of Ukrainians from Halychyna, the Western region of Ukraine, settled in the Cooks Creek area of this province. This group was later joined by a second group of Ukrainians in 1896, who were initially bound for Edna-Starr and Dauphin, but who were encouraged by the Federal Government to settle in the Cooks Creek area as the aforementioned communities were already quite large. Other notable Ukrainian Canadian areas in Manitoba include Olha, Sandy Lake, Mountain Road, Portage la Prairie, Cloverleaf, Ladywood, Elmwood, Rossdale, Gonor, Gimli, Tolstoi, Vita, Gardenton, and so on.

The first wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, which was halted with the onset of the Great War, lasted from 1891 - 1914. Many of these people, who hailed from Western Ukraine, subsequently settled in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as pioneer farmers. However, there were others who remained in Quebec, where their ships had come into port. Others still found employment in Canadian frontier industries, such as in mining and forestry. There were also those who found work in the cities, such as Winnipeg, as unskilled laborers.

With the end of the Great War, a second wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada occurred, between 1918 - 1939. As with the first wave, many of these people were from Western Ukraine and they aspired to make a new life for themselves in Canada. Many became farmers on the prairies or in Ontario, others found work in the industrialized cities of Ontario as well. This wave of immigration was halted by the onset of World War II.
Following the Second World War a third wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada occurred. These people were generally well educated and they hailed from all regions of Ukraine. Overall, these people had either fled Ukraine or had been displaced from their homeland through the exigencies of war. Through the auspices of the already established Ukrainian Canadian community and with the support of the Canadian Government, many eventually found the freedom they sought in Canada, making this country their adopted home. Many of these Ukrainian people settled in cities, such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Toronto. It should be noted that, for the many years that followed subsequent Ukrainian immigration was essentially non-existent, as Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union.

Nonetheless, a forth period of Ukrainian immigration to Canada is now occurring. 1991, which marked the centenary year of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, also saw Ukraine celebrate her independence! Since that time, a considerable number of Ukrainians have relocated to Canada. Once again, they hail from all regions of Ukraine and they are generally well educated. Many seek fortuity and the opportunity to make a new life for themselves.
Each period of Ukrainian immigration to Canada added to the Ukrainian Canadian contingent, indeed to this nation as a whole, in their own unique way. Each group came from a different sort of Ukraine to a different sort of Canada, each group had their own distinctive experiences and desires and each had something special to offer their new homeland. Together, all four groups of Ukrainians to Canada make up that which is the Ukrainian Canadian community of today.