TORGGG Blogger is the Toronto Ukrainian Genealogy Group’s (TUGG) combined newsletter and Blog. Here, the TORGGG letters stand for “Toronto” (TOR), “Galician Genealogy Group” (GGG). Our group has been in existence since our inaugural meeting on September 14, 1999. At that first session Tony Rocci acted as facilitator and Brian Gilchrist brought greetings from the Ontario Genealogy Society.
From the start, our group comprised member’s interest in their Ukrainian heritage. We discovered that our ancestors came to Canada in four waves. The First Wave started in 1891 and lasted until 1914 (with the outbreak of WWI). Although eighty percent of the Ukraine’s land was part of the Russian empire, most Ukrainians that landed on Canada’s shores during this period were from the western portion, then under Austrian rule. The first immigration consisted almost entirely of land-hungry peasants from the provinces of Galicia and Bukovina. Denied any opportunities to improve their lot in their homeland, they were attracted to Canada by its policy of granting virtually free lands or “homesteads” to settlers. About 170,000 Ukrainian’s arrived in this first wave. Their Passenger Records would have listed them as Galicians, Ruthenians, Bukovinians or Poles. Many Ukrainian families also had Polish, German, Jewish, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Armenian and other ethnic connections. We soon found that doing our family histories involved far more than simply examining our Ukrainian roots.
The Second Wave (1922-1939) was smaller than the first and numbered about 68,000 people. The immigrants began to arrive in numbers in 1923 after the Ukrainian Republic had fallen and its partition between Poland, Roumania. Czecho-Slovakia and the Soviet Union were completed. Ukrainian immigration increased throughout the prosperous twenties and nearly half of it arrived in the three years from 1927 to 1929. With the coming of the “great” depression, Ukrainian immigration fell sharply, but rose again in the late thirties as the danger of war began to loom in Europe.
The main flow of immigrants continued to come from Bukovina and Galicia, then under Poland and Roumania. For the first time, immigrants began to arrive in numbers from Volynia, which also had fallen under Poland. Most of the immigrants were still farmers, the unskilled and semi-skilled who were being pushed out of their homeland by the bleak economic and political future which they faced. They still sought land in Canada, but the good homesteads were gone, and they had to choose between free lands which was poor or too far from settlement, or better land at a price. The pull of non-farm jobs was increasing and more and more of the immigrants were drawn into Canadian cities and towns.
Some immigrants had taken part in unsuccessful wars for Ukrainian independence during 1917 to 1922, and brought with them a strong sense of nationalism and an old-country orientation, These attitudes complicated the emerging views of the first immigration which were becoming more and more orientated towards Canadian problems. Some skilled and professionally trained immigrants also came, adding to the small numbers already in Canada.
The Third Wave (1946-1961) contributed the smallest number of people, some 37,000 in all. The majority had entered by the end of 1952, though appreciable numbers continued to come until 1960. The immigrants had one common feature -they were political refugees from behind the Iron Curtain -and many differences. Some were professionals from the sciences, humanities and the arts, others were craftsmen, and still others were labourers and farmers. For the first time they came from all regions of the Ukraine, so that in this sense the New World became representative of the old.
Although small in numbers, the third group of immigrants made a great impact on the Ukrainians already in Canada. Many of the newcomers accepted fairly quickly the existing institutions developed by the Ukrainians. This was to the benefit of both. It bolstered the institutions with much needed membership and gave moral support and fresh impetus to their efforts; at the same time it provided a haven from which the newly arrived could more quickly find a job and begin to integrate into Canadian life.
A Fourth Wave of Immigrants from Ukraine started from 1991 as a result of the breakup of the former Soviet Union. The principal area from which they emigrated was “Greater” Ukraine (i.e., Central and Eastern Ukraine, 50 percent), with western Ukraine (Halychyna and Bukovyna) following at 41 percent, and southern Ukraine (and “other” regions) coming in at 9 percent. Significantly, 26 percent of all those who emigrated from Ukraine to Canada came from Kyiv and 24 percent from Lviv.