Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Sojourners and Settlers

Sojourners and Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 218
  • Book Info
    Sojourners and Settlers
    Book Description:

    Macedonians started immigrating to Canada in the late 1800s, yet the community has never had its history recorded - until now. Lillian Petroff, in her book Sojourners and Settlers, has remedied that omission in an informative and enjoyable manner. She charts the settlement patterns, living and working conditions, religious life, and political activity of Macedonians in Toronto from the early twentieth century to the Second World War.

    The first Macedonians who came to Toronto lived an almost isolated existence in a distinct set of neighbourhoods that were centred around their church, stores, and boarding houses. They moved with little awareness of the city-at-large since the needs of their families in the old country and political events in their homeland were much more important to them than developments in Toronto and Canada. A greater interest in Canada began to take root only after Macedonians began to think less like sojourners and more like settlers. This transition was often accompanied by a move from bachelorhood to marriage and from industrial labour to individual entrepreneurial activities.

    Employing a wealth of primary written and oral source material, Petroff tells the remarkable story of the men and women who laid the foundation for what would become a significant community in the Toronto area, which today represents the largest community of Macedonians outside the Balkans.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8006-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Harold M. Troper

    As I read Lillian Petroff′sSojourners and Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940, I recalled a visit some years ago to a park in the state of Washington. At the entrance to a hiking trail, authorities had placed a sign: ′Take only pictures and leave only footprints.′ Look and appreciate the natural beauty of the area, but do not disturb, distort, or otherwise alter the surrounding environment. Leave it as you found it.

    I have a sense that this same sentiment underlies the research and writing ofSojourners and Settlers. Always careful never to distort, never to step...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Lillian Petroff
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. 1 Village Life
    (pp. 3-12)

    ′In the mountain villages where Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania meet,′ a people struggled for its national identity at the same time as it struggled to eke out a living from the soil. Until the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, most Macedonians lived as Christian peasants in a Muslim land under Ottoman rule. Both their religious and linguistic folkways made them turn to independent Bulgaria and its Orthodox church for leadership. In the nineteenth century, priests, intellectuals, and comitadjiis (national guerrillas) drew these villagers into a larger national identity. Macedonians – in such villages as Besvina, Bobista, Gabresh, Oshchima,...

  8. 2 A Temporary Stay
    (pp. 13-30)

    After the 1903 Ilinden Uprising against the Turks, a thirteen-year-old Macedonian boy found work at a dairy in Varna, Bulgaria, beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire. By 1910, he had moved on towards North America, bound for California and possible railway work. Although he intended Toronto to be only a temporary stop, he decided to stay and he lived in a series boarding-houses in the East End and the West End. By 1940, he had become a barber, a grocery store operator, and an established resident and homeowner in ′The Junction.′ Having done some of the most dangerous and...

  9. 3 Seasoned Artisans
    (pp. 31-46)

    Early in the twentieth century, most Canadians believed that many of the newly arriving southeastern European migrants were unskilled labourers. Yet the majority of Macedonians, as pre-industrial villagers and small homesteaders, had learned an assortment of artisanal skills. For example, the need and desire to be as self-sufficient as possible led men to acquire basic knowledge of agriculture and trading and such trades as butchering, cobbling (which centred around fashioning a useful byproduct of butchering – practical pig- and cattle-skin moccasins), blacksmithing, tailoring, and barbering.¹ These skills, too, would prove invaluable in Toronto. Little in their lives to that date,...

  10. 4 Village Societies, National Church
    (pp. 47-58)

    To help ease unemployment and provide camaraderie Toronto′s Macedonians set up village-based brotherhoods and benevolent organizations which obliged working members to assist their needy comrades in finding a job. The well-publicized plight and deportation of the 300 or so unemployed Macedonians in 1907, described above in chapter 3, spurred organization that same year of the first such group, the Oshchima Benefit Society St Nicholas.¹ And fellow-feeling and mutual support soon found expression in creation in 1910 of anationalparish in Toronto, centred in SS Cyril and Methody Church.

    In times of illness, the brotherhoods and benevolent societies encouraged members...

  11. 5 Preachers, Teachers, Soldiers, War
    (pp. 59-74)

    Various Anglo-Canadian institutional ′caretakers,′ particularly Protestant churches and public schools, sought to acculturate Macedonians in Toronto. The immigrants′ response was more studied and complex than has often been realized. The First World War, which cut them off from their newly partitioned homeland, highlighted for Macedonians their uncertain place in the land that choice and/or circumstances increasingly made them think of as home.

    The sources and literature created by the 'caretakers' are revealing, but only oral testimony can tell us about the Macedonian side of the encounter. Historians concerned with only the caretakers' perspective, usually in written form, have exaggerated, for...

  12. 6 Settler Households
    (pp. 75-94)

    Marriage and new households – especially when young wives came to Canada as their men passed from sojourning to settling – were the central fact of the Macedonian group in Toronto in the 1920s. They created a community of families but involved a peculiar cultural lap. Many brides had been left behind in the period before 1910; it had been easier, quicker, and more profitable to have men migrate seasonally or sojourn than to make arrangements (passports and so on) for a couple or family to emigrate. The First World War had further delayed the emigration. Typically, a tailor from...

  13. 7 Cooperation and Competition
    (pp. 95-110)

    A number of Macedonians climbed into the merchant class in Toronto through various routes. A few newcomers had been merchants or entrepreneurs in the old country. The urban experience acquainted many others with the economic opportunities that dotted the city. Many men soon realized that it would be not only more profitable to operate their own business than to toil as labourers, but also physically safer. They served part-time or full-time apprenticeships in the shops of their families and friends. Cooperation and competition with non-Macedonians helped to shape the emergent Macedonian businesses, and, as with boarding-houses, families also played a...

  14. 8 Community Life
    (pp. 111-128)

    The differing composition of their districts shaped the community life Macedonians developed in Toronto. Villages of origin, religious loyalties, and political inclinations affected relations in and among the three areas.

    The East End settlement was heterogeneous – a target for migrants from many villages in the old country. Men and families from Tersie and Bitola settled on Wilkins Avenue. Before the First World War, Trinity Street had been home to men of many villages, including Embore, Konomladi, and Zigoricheni. No village patterns can be discerned for the commercial streets of the area, King East, Queen East, and Dundas. In the...

  15. 9 The Church and Ethnicity
    (pp. 129-146)

    SS Cyril and Methody Church had emerged in 1910 as a community and Macedonian national institution, both incorporating and often transcending traditional village loyalties. In the settler period following the First World War, this occasionally parochial but egalitarian and democratic organization permitted and encouraged community and national ideals. It had close contact with the new Macedonian Political Organization (MPO, founded in 1921) and fiercely independent, and finally explosive relations with the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod.

    Supervision of the church′s business affairs was scrupulous and democratic. From 1920 on, the church′s executive committee, elected annually, dutifully printed the financial report for...

  16. 10 The MPO: Balkan Dreams, Canadian Reality
    (pp. 147-166)

    The failure to free Macedonia and the signing of the peace treaties of 1919, heedless of the nation′s claims, demanded a systematic response from expatriates. The community in North America responded by creating the Macedonian Political (later Patriotic) Organization (MPO) in 1921. Article 2 of the MPO′sConstitution and By-lawsstated the hallowed aims: ′To fight and work in a legal manner for the establishment of Macedonia as an independent republic within her geographical boundaries.′ The MPO called for independence and was lukewarm about federating Slavic peoples in the Balkans. Facing the reality of its nation′s participation in such a...

  17. 11 Evolving Definitions
    (pp. 167-176)

    Who were the Macedonians of Toronto in the period before 1940? What was their sense of identity? How did they see the social and cultural processes that were changing them from Old World villagers? How had their sense of being Macedonian evolved in reaction to Turkish or Greek overlords and then in the face of the Anglo-Celtic society in Toronto? Both the boundaries and the substance of Macedonian ethnicity in Canada are best understood as process, not as cultural baggage from the Old World or as simply an artefact made by circumstance in the New. The social and geographical processes...

  18. Chronology 1885–1993
    (pp. 177-184)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 185-206)
  20. Note on Sources
    (pp. 207-208)
  21. Index
    (pp. 209-217)