On the first weekend in August, Toronto’s Macedonians participate in a memorial service at St. Clement of Ohrid Church in Toronto to honour the heroes of Macedonia’s past. The 1903 Ilinden Uprising of the Macedonians against the Ottoman Empire is commemorated with a picnic and a ceremony that includes the placing of a wreath at a stone monument dedicated to the Unknown Soldier, at the National War Memorial, Ottawa.
Toronto is a centre for one of the largest Macedonian communities in the world. Macedonia is now a nation state that broke away from the former Yugoslavia. Macedonians also live in the region that stretches through Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania.
Relatively few Macedonians immigrated to Canada before the turn of the century. With the failure of the Ilinden Uprising, many people emigrated to escape the aftermath; others arrived following the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913.
Early Macedonians found work in tannery and fur-processing plants located in Cabbagetown. Machine operators and labourers were employed by the garment industry on Spadina Avenue or in the iron and sheet metal industries, silk mills, and knitting factories. Macedonians worked as railroad navvies and in the meat-packing industry. As slaughterhouses and abattoirs moved westward in the city, the Macedonian community settled near the Municipal Abattoir in the Niagara Street district or near the west-end railway junctions. Many factory workers became supervisors and union stewards, while entrepreneurs started their own small businesses such as meat markets, barber shops, shoeshine parlours, grocery stores, and haberdasheries. Having gained experience as waiters and busboys, many ventured into the restaurant business. The Dufferin Grill was one of the first Toronto Macedonian-owned restaurants.
Macedonian organizations in the city included Slave Petroff and Company, a steamship and banking agency which offered the services of a labour bureau. The Baptist church in Toronto also established a labour exchange and information bureau at the Macedonian and Bulgarian Mission Hall.
The third wave of immigration resulted from the expulsion between the two World Wars. By the end of the Second World War, there were an estimated 50,000 Macedonians in Canada. Today, Macedonians are found in all jobs and professions, from doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers to factory workers and business owners.
Easter and Christmas are celebrated according to the Gregorian and Julian calendars.
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY is January 18. It is celebrated with a baptismal ceremony, usually held in front of the church.
THE BIRTHDAY OF MACEDONIAN FREEDOM-FIGHTER GOTSE DELCHEV, who led the 1903 Ilinden Uprising, is celebrated on February 4.
SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODY DAY is May 24. Macedonians worldwide pay tribute to the two brothers from Salonika. Apostles to the Slavs, they are best known for creating the first Slavonic alphabet, which later became known as Cyrillic script.
ILINDEN UPRISING. August 2 commemorates the anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising of 1903. Festivities include dances, a beauty contest, and a picnic held the first Sunday in August.
SEPTEMBER 8 is the celebration of the independence of the Republic of Macedonia.
THE FORMATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA in 1944 is celebrated by some members of the community on October 11.
ST. CLEMENT’S DAY, December 8, is in honour of St. Clement of Ohrid, a disciple of Saints Cyril and Methody. St. Clement’s Church in Toronto holds a dinner and dance and other celebrations on the nearest weekend to the day.
MACEDONIAN EDITION, Informative & Entertaining TV program, (Tel. 416-503-2285, www.macedonianadition.tv), Rogers TV, Channels 10, 63, 84, 18–25th St., #4. Alternate Saturdays, 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Alternate Fridays, 6:00 p.m. Also broadcast on Macedonian Satellite. Producer and host: Pobeda Piskaceva.
MACEDONIAN HERITAGE, OMNI-TV, (Tel. 416-260-0047, 545 Lakeshore Blvd). Saturday, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Producer: Bill Yancoff.
VOICE OF MACEDONIA, CHIN 100.7 FM, (Tel. 416-531-9991, 622 College St). Sunday, 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Also on CHIN 1540 AM, Monday to Friday 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Host: Dragica Belchevska.
UNITED MACEDONIA, Fairchild Radio, CHKT 1430 AM, (Tel. 905-763-3350, 135 East Beaver Creek Rd., Units 7–8, Richmond Hill). Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
CANADIAN-MACEDONIAN NEWS, (1032 Pape Ave., Box 60002). A monthly newspaper distributed across North America. Editor and publisher: Lijana Ristova.
ZDRAVETZ, (TEL. 416-755-9231, 850 O’Connor Dr), a periodical newsletter published by Canadian Macedonian Place,. Editor: Zlatka Cokov.
CANADIAN MACEDONIAN PLACE, (Tel. 416-755-9231, 850 O’Connor Dr). Home to the Daughters of Macedonia.
MACEDONIAN COMMUNITY CENTRE, (Tel. 416-421-7451, 76 Overlea Blvd). With three halls and a library, the Centre houses several organizations, including: the award-winning Makedonka, Macedonian Folk Ensemble with 200 dancers; Macedonia Drama Group; the Ladies’ Auxiliary; the Miladonov Brothers, a Macedonian literary association; Macedonian Language School; Macedonian War Veterans Association; Macedonian Canadian Choir; Trsye Folklore Group; Macedonian Information; the Macedonian Youth Association.
UNITED MACEDONIANS OF CANADA ORGANIZATION, (Tel. 416-490-0181, www.unitedmacedonians.org, 686 McCowan Rd., P.O. Box 66517). Established in 1959 to promote unity and friendship among Macedonians in North America and overseas. Sponsors cultural days, dances, picnics, and beauty pageants, and awards scholarships. The organization is home to the Macedonian folk dance group, Gotse Delchev; United Macedonians Hockey Team; and the Solun Soccer Club. President: Boris Mangov. Youth in Macedonian costume.
CANADIAN MACEDONIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, (Tel. 416-755-3117, 850 O’Connor Dr).
CANADIAN MACEDONIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE, (Tel. 416-759-5309, 71 Gooderham Dr).
MACEDONIAN CANADIAN RESTAURANT CO-OPERATIVE INC., (Tel. 905-831-3551, 774 Liverpool Rd., Pickering).
SELYANI MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE GROUP, (Tel. 416-698-1747, 4 Osborne Ave). Director: James Nicoloff.
CANADIAN MACEDONIAN HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION, (Tel. 416-231-4417, 270 The Kingsway).
MACEDONIAN STUDENTS ASSOCIATION AT YORK UNIVERSITY, (331 Student Centre, 4700 Keele St).
CANADIAN MACEDONIAN BUSINESS NETWORK, (Tel. 905-764-7816, 3-100 West Beaver Creek Rd). President: Nick Kuburovski.