A number of the large events in the community are celebrations of Latin American folklore shows at Nathan Phillips Square and Mel Lastman Square, where thousands of people gather together to share the variety and richness of the Latin American culture. Every fall, the Arts and Crafts Building at the Canadian National Exhibition also vibrates with the Latin rhythms of the three-day International Hispanic Fiesta. The Fiesta features the food, art, and music of 20 different countries. Mariachi bands, flamenco shows, Mexican ballets, folklore exhibitions, and tango shows coalesce to demonstrate the spirit of Toronto’s Hispanic community.
The 270,000-member community is made up of Spanish-speaking people primarily from North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. The Chileans and the Ecuadorians, with more than 45,000 people, are the two largest groups in the Hispanic community. Newcomers include Uruguayans and Argentinians.
Significant Spanish settlement did not occur in Canada until the 20th century. By 1914, approximately 2,000 Spaniards had arrived in Canada, followed by a small group that settled here between the two World Wars. The largest group of settlers included Latin Americans, who arrived between 1968 and 1975, boosting the population of Hispanics in Canada to 50,000.
Although the arrival of Hispanics can be traced to the post-war years, in the last three decades three main waves of immigrants from different historical-spatial roots have settled in Canada. They are the Andean wave (1971–1975), the Coup wave (1973–1979), and the Central American wave (since 1981). The causes of these waves are both economic and political. The amnesty legislation of 1973 resulted in an inflow of nearly 50,000 individual regularizations (most from Ecuador and Colombia). At the same time, the military coup in Chile displaced thousands of Chilean professionals and labourers, leaving them to seek political asylum. The Central American wave of the 1980s was caused by socio-political shocks in Nicaragua, the escalation of the civil war in El Salvador, and repressive policies in Guatemala.
An early area of settlement was College Street between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue. Today, many Hispanics have left this neighbourhood to live in the Keele and Finch area of North York. Members of the Chilean community reside primarily in Etobicoke and Don Mills.
Regional clubs, soccer leagues, community centres, and other institutions preserve Hispanic culture in the city. The Spanish Tourist Office was established in 1958, and Banco Central of Canada—a direct affiliate with Banco Central de Espana—opened its first branch on Bay Street in 1982. First Canadian Place houses the offices of Banco Nacional De Mexico and consulates of more than 10 Latin American countries.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Simon Bolivar—liberator of six Latin American countries—a bronze bust was sculpted by artist Armando Sorondo. The monument was presented by the Consul General of Venezuela as a gesture of friendship to Torontonians and placed on the lawns of Trinity Bellwoods Park in the heart of the city’s Hispanic district.
EPIPHANY, January 6. On this day the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples sponsors a special party for children. Instead of Santa Claus, the three kings present gifts to the children.
GOOD FRIDAY is celebrated by Toronto’s Ecuadorians as a feast day to symbolize the continuation of life. Fanesca soup, made from blending vegetables, corns, beans, and peas with dry corn, is eaten on this day only.
FESTIVALS. In May, the Spanish Centre holds a festival on a weekend at the end of the month with dance performances. Spanish regional groups hold festivals in the city throughout the year. In mid-May the Madrid Festival is celebrated with theatrical presentations, and in July a dinner dance and performance mark the Basque Festival.
BATALLA DE PICHINCHA is celebrated with speeches and a cultural program on May 24, 1822, for the day Ecuador won its freedom from Spain.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (VENEZUELA). On July 5th, a reception is held by the Toronto Venezuelan Consulate to commemorate the day in 1811 the country proclaimed its independence from Spain.
FIESTA DE SAN FERMIN. On July 6, the city of Pamplona, Spain, celebrates the feast of its patron saint by holding bullfights. In Toronto, the Fiesta de San Fermin takes the form of a week-long celebration with dancing and singing.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (ARGENTINA). July 9 marks Argentina’s formal Declaration of Independence, signed in 1816. This day is celebrated with a cultural program.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (COLOMBIA). On July 20th, Colombians celebrate their independence from Spain, achieved in 1810. On the nearest weekend to the date, the Colombian community holds a social and cultural evening.
CUBAN HOLIDAY. Cubans hold a celebration on the nearest weekend to July 26 in recognition of the 26 of July Movement in 1953 when Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada Barracks at Santiago. The revolt against the Batista government was unsuccessful but was the first step to the revolution that led to Castro’s overtaking the government in 1959.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (PERU). July 28 recognizes the day in 1821 that Peru proclaimed its independence. The Toronto Peruvian community celebrates the event on the weekend nearest the date.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (BOLIVIA). August 6 marks the day Bolivia (known as Upper Peru) defeated the occupying Spanish forces and became a separate nation. The community celebrates the occasion with a reception, speeches, and a cultural program.
ECUADOR’S INDEPENDENCE DAY is celebrated on August 10, on the anniversary of the first uprising and declaration of independence that took place in Quito in 1809. The celebrations include receptions, speeches, dinners, dances, and contests. A Miss Pichincha is chosen to preside over the festivities.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (URUGUAY). August 25 marks the day in 1825 that Uruguay achieved its independence from Spain, Argentina, and Brazil. It is celebrated the weekend nearest to the date with a two-day program of sporting events, singing, and dancing.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (GUATEMALA). September 15 is National Day, when Guatemala received its independence from Spain in 1821. The community celebrates with a social and cultural evening.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (MEXICO). September 16 marks the day in 1810 that a priest, Miguel Hidalgo, demanded Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. Celebrations are held on the closest weekend to the day.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (CHILE). September 18 celebrates the day in 1810 when Chile established a governing junta. The Chilean community celebrates the event on the weekend nearest to the date in various places around Toronto.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (GUAYAQUIL). October 9 recognizes the Independence of Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian city that attained self-government in 1820. Former residents celebrate with a program of music, singing, and dancing.
DIA DE LA RAZA is held on October 12, commemorating the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The day is remembered with a dinner, speeches, and a cultural program.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA). On November 3, Dominicans hold a dance and social evening to celebrate Discovery and Independence Day, the day Dominica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. In 1978, Dominica received its independence from Great Britain and became the Republic of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
INDEPENDENCE DAY (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC). On February 27, Dominicans celebrate their independence from Haiti (1844) and on August 16 their restoration from Spain (1865).
CORREO CANADIENSE, (Tel. 416-785-4300, www.elcorreo.ca, 101 Wingold Ave).
EL POPULAR (SPANISH DAILY), (Tel. 416-531-2495, www.diarioelpopular.com, 2413 Dundas St. W).
EBEN-EZER INTERNACIONAL (WEEKLY NEWSPAPER), (Tel. 416-635-1558, 1110 Wilson Ave., Suite 202, Downsview). Editor: Oscar Ortiz.
PAGINA AMARILLA (SPANISH WEEKLY), (Tel. 416-533-7225, 599 Bloor St. W). Editor: Manuel Guerra.
EL MUNDO LATINO NEWS LTD. (Tel. (905)306-7929, 3050 Kirwin Ave, Mississauga).
AQUI NUESTRA AMERICA. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Contact: Neri Espinoza.
VENTANA AL BARRIO. Friday, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Contact: Maria Elena Escobar.
LATIN LIFE NEWS, (Tel. 416-480-1668, 4646 Dufferin St., Unit 2,).
Other radio/TV programs include:
ONDAS HISPANAS, CIRV Radio International, (Tel. 416-537-1088, 1087 Dundas St. W). Monday to Friday, 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Producer: Alberto Elmir; Media Consultant: Arturo Gutiérrez.
ALIANZA CULTURAL HISPANO CANADIENSE is a theatre group, formed in 1978 by newcomers from Spain, along with some Canadians. It has been active in spreading Spanish culture in Toronto by organizing conferences, art exhibitions, musical programs, poetry workshops, and dramas. The group also performs plays by Spanish dramatists such as Federico Garcia Lorca.
CANADIAN HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, (Tel. 416-480-1668, 2327 Dufferin St., Unit 103). Promotes and helps to expand the Hispanic culture by assisting artists, painters, singers and bands to increase their exposure and the marketing of their art within the Canadian market. Contact Roberto Hausman
CENTRO NUEVA VIDA (NEW LIFE CENTRE), (Tel. 416-699-4527, 1774 Queen St. E). A community agency that offers an immigrant settlement adjustment program.
CENTRO PARA GENTE DE HABLA HISPANA (THE CENTRE FOR SPANISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES), (Tel. 416-533-8545, www.spanishservices.org, 2141 Jane St). Provides programs ranging from counselling and orientation services to handicraft workshops and legal clinics. English classes are available for adults and Spanish classes for adults. Contact: Gerard Ratsech.
CLUB HISPANO, (SPANISH CENTRE), (Tel. 416-760-7210, 3465 Dundas St. W). Formed in 1964 to assist fellow countrymen in need, the club provides a social and cultural contact for the Spanish-speaking community of Toronto. President: Josephina Torre. At the same address: Casa De Espana, Spanish Centre Dancers.
HISPANIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL, (Tel. 416-516-0851, 179 John St). Contact: Duberlis Ramos. A social planning council.
LATIN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTRE OF CANADA, (Tel. 905-507-6479, www.centrolationcanadiensc.com, 801 Ashprior Ave). Director: David Palmer.
PERUVIAN-CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, (Tel. 905-825-8001, www.perucanadacc.com, 66 Wellington Street W, PO Box 1151). President: Jose Zlatar.
THE PERUVIAN COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTRE IN CANADA, (Tel. 647-341-4092).
PLAZA COMMUNITARIA, (65 Samor Rd) was created to promote, manage and provide education services for adults.
SCHOOL FOR SPANISH DANCE, (Tel. 416-924-6991). Contact: Paula Moreno.
SPANISH CLUB, Glendon College, York University, (Tel. 416-487-6787, 2275 Bayview Ave). Contact: Margarita Feliciano.
SPANISH TRADE COMMISSION, (Tel. 416-967-0488, 8 Bloor St. E).
YORK HISPANIC CENTRE, (Tel. 416-651-9166, 2696 Eglinton Ave. W). A centre for Spanish speaking people. Organizes social activities and offers social services. President: Javier Cepeda.
Other organizations include:
ACADEMY OF SPANISH DANCE, (Tel. 416-595-5753, 401 Richmond St. W., Suite B104). Director: Esmeralda Enrique.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ECUADOR-CANADA, (Tel. 416-861-0733; Fax 416-861-8183, 33 Harbour Sq). President: Cesar Tello.
CLUB HISPANO, (Tel. 416-760-7210, 3465 Dundas St. W).
FOLKLORE INCA, (100 Alexander St., Apt. 901). President: Alberto Herrera.
GRUPO AMAZON, (30 Gloucester St). Director: Yasmina Ramzy.
GRUPO AZTECA DE MEXICO, (5 St. Pietro Way). Director: Ramon Franco.
GRUPO DE DANZAS CLUB DEPORTIVO COLOMBIA, (2 Prestwick Ave., Maple). Director: Karen Trujillo.
GRUPO FOLKLÓRICO “TRADIÓN ARGENTINA”, (85 Emmett Ave., Apt. 2012). Coordinator: Hilda Diaz.
GRUPO FOLKLÓRICO PICHINCHA, (1130 Wilson Ave., Apt. 411). Director: Nancy Supo.
GRUPO FOLKLÓRICO CHILE, (29 Radwinter Dr.) Director: Patricia Medina.
GRUPO INSTRUMENTAL “PERU LLACTA”, (5 Wales Ave), Director: Ernesto Cardenas.
HERMANOS HISPANOS FAMILY HELP CLUB, (Tel. 416-658-1818, 129 Day Ave).
PAULA MORENO SPANISH DANCE, (Tel. 416-924-6991).