According to the 2001 census, there were 290,925 Ukrainians in Ontario, representing 27.1 percent of the Ukrainian population in Canada. Of these, 90,065 had a ‘single’ Ukrainian-only origin while 200,860 claimed a ‘multiple’ (Ukrainian and other) origin. Some 48,620 stated Ukrainian as their mother tongue. The major Ukrainian communities include Toronto (104,490; 40,705 single/63,785 multiple), Hamilton (24,070; 7,390/16,685), Ottawa-Hull (17,235; 3,985/13,250), Saint Catharines-Niagara (16,735; 5,330/11,405), Thunder Bay (16,250; 4,415/11,840), Oshawa (11,035; 3,275/7,755), London (9,645; 2,400/7,345), Windsor (9,195; 2,800/6,390), Kitchener (8,650; 1,925/6,720), and Sudbury (7,140; 2,095/5,040).
A concentration around the province’s most populated industrial and administrative centers and the lack of bloc settlements in rural areas differentiates Ontario’s Ukrainian community socially and culturally from those in other provinces, particularly in the Prairie provinces. This distribution can be explained by the history of Ukrainian settlement in Ontario.
During the first wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada (1891–1914) most newcomers from Galicia and Bukovyna settled in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. A number did not make it the full distance and stopped off en route—in most cases temporarily—in Fort William. More commonly the earliest Ukrainians came as seasonal or migrant workers to Ontario, many of them hoping to accumulate enough capital to buy land back in their homeland or in the prairies. They took jobs in the mines of Sudbury and district, Timmins, and Kirkland Lake; the lumber and paper mills of Kenora and Dryden in northwestern Ontario; the factories of Windsor and Oshawa; the foundries and plants of Hamilton; the railway yards and docks of Port Arthur and Fort William (later combined into Thunder Bay); and the food processing and manufacturing industries of Toronto. Some of them stayed in Ontario, where they set up cultural organizations and small parishes. The second wave of immigration in the interwar period was driven, again, by land hunger in Galicia and Volhynia. After fulfilling an obligatory stint at farm labor, many of the Ukrainian newcomers to Canada headed for mining or industrial centers offering better job opportunities. Many prairie Ukrainians joined them in moving to Ontario, especially from the latter 1930s when that province’s relatively better economic prospects proved particularly alluring. The third wave of immigration (1947–52) consisted of displaced persons or refugees. About 75 percent of the newcomers, who were better educated than their predecessors and more often of an urban background, settled in Ontario. After fulfilling their one-year contracts on farms or in mines or forests, most moved to the cities and swelled the ranks of existing Ukrainian communities. The majority of the ‘fourth’ wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, which began in the 1980s with arrivals from Poland and (now the former) Yugoslavia and has continued since the early 1990s with people from Ukraine itself, settled in Ontario, particularly in Toronto.
The Ukrainian presence in Ontario grew significantly over time in terms of both absolute numbers and its relative portion of the Ukrainian-Canadian population from 3,078 in 1911 (4.0 percent of the total Ukrainian-Canadian population) to 24,426 in 1931 (10.9 percent), 93,595 in 1951 (23.8 percent), and 159,880 in 1971 (27.5 percent—a proportion that it has more or less maintained consistently since that time).
The pace of organizational life followed suit. The earliest institutions among Ukrainians in the provinces tended to be church parishes, while early organizational life centered around mutual aid groups, Prosvita societies, choirs and orchestras, and theater groups. The pro-Communist Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA; later the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians [AUUC]) established a substantial presence in the province in the 1920s on the basis of earlier Ukrainian socialist groups that had been active there. In the secular realm it main challengers were the hetmanite Canadian Sitch Association; (later the United Hetman Organization), the nationalist Ukrainian National Federation, and the various Ukrainian people's homes that grew out of the Prosvita societies. In-fighting existed among all these groups, although it was particularly bitter in the province with respect to the ULFTA. After the Second World War, the hetmanite forces faded into obscurity, while the AUUC began a period of decline. The Ukrainian National Federation was bolstered by an infusion of new blood from among the post-Second World War immigrants. The recent arrivals also established the Canadian League for Ukraine’s Liberation (now known as the League of Ukrainian Canadians), which had its strongest presence in Ontario, as well as the Plast Ukrainian Youth Association. An umbrella organization for Ukrainian organizations in Ontario, the Ontario Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee (now Congress), was established in 1970.
The earliest Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Ontario were established in 1909 in Toronto and Fort William, followed in the teens by parishes and churches in locales such as Hamilton, Kenora, Kitchener, and Ottawa. The Ukrainian Catholic presence expanded as the number of faithful grew. In 1948 the Apostolic Exarchate of Eastern Canada was established. It became the Eparchy of Toronto (later adding ‘and Eastern Canada’ to its name) in 1956. The eparchy was headed from its very beginnings by Isidore Borecky until his retirement in 1998. He was succeeded by Cornelius Pasichny (1998–2003), and Stephen Chmilar (2003–19). The first Orthodox congregation among Ukrainians in Ontario were established in Oshawa in 1916 and Welland in 1917, although these were initially affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Mission in the United States. The first Ukrainian Orthodox church parishes were established in the 1920s, although they started coming into their own only from the latter 1930s. The Ontario parishes are under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada’s Eastern Diocese, which was created in 1951. It has been headed by bishops Mikhail Khoroshy (1951–77), Mykola Debryn (1978–81), Wasyly Fedak, acting bishop, 1981–92), Yurij Kalischuk (1992–2010), and Andriy Peshko (2011–).
To preserve their culture and language, Ukrainians have maintained their own privately funded evening and Saturday schools and have taken advantage of the provincially funded heritage language programs in public and Catholic elementary schools. Ukrainian-English bilingual schools such as those found in the Prairie provinces, have never existed historically in Ontario and are not found there today. Courses in Ukrainian language and literature have been taught at the University of Toronto since the 1950s, and in the late 1970s the Ukrainian community raised money to establish the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the university. As well Ukrainian courses have been offered at York University for many years. Since its founding in 1976 the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies has had its Toronto Office at the University of Toronto. In 2001, the university established the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine. From 1990 to 2017 the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies has been located at Saint Paul’s University in Ottawa, from where it moved in 2017 to the University of Toronto. The University of Ottawa has a Chair of Ukrainian Studies, which was established in 1995 and finally occupied in 2003. In the past courses in Ukrainian studies have been taught at McMaster University (Hamilton), the University of Windsor, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University (Ottawa).
Luciuk, L; Wynnyckyj, I. (eds). Ukrainians in Ontario, vol 10 of Polyphony (Toronto 1988)
[This article was updated in 2005.]