Digital Museum of Greek Immigration to Canada to Open in Montreal

Greek immigrants arriving in Canada in the early 1900s. Photo from Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

The official opening of the Digital Museum of Greek Immigration to Canada is scheduled for Friday, May 24, in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, according to an announcement released by the “ImmiGrec Project.”

The main goal of ImmiGrec, which is supported by Greece’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), is to create a Virtual Museum, a vast digital online portal encompassing the totality of the Greek-Canadian immigrant experience from Greece to the enormous nation of Canada.

ImmiGrec notes on its official website that ”the Virtual Museum will unfold Greek history in Canada by providing access to timelines, interactive maps and historical commentary, archival databases and links to relevant sources.”

The primary sources which documented firsthand the Greek-Canadian immigrant experience, and the communities in which they settled, will also be among the items which will be available online to any searcher using the internet. There will also be a great deal of oral histories and visual materials which will illustrate the social and cultural life of Canadian Greeks between the years 1949 to 1979.

Greek immigration to Canada dates back to the early twentieth century, as a part of the broader transatlantic exodus of peoples from Southern and Eastern Europe.

The early epoch of Greek immigration to Canada, comprising the years 1900 – 1945, represented just the beginnings of the mass movement of Greeks (and other southern Europeans) to Canada, at a time when the United States was the primary destination of nearly everyone.

Up until 1931, for example, only 9,500 Greeks had moved to Canada, while during the period between 1900 and 1920, a total of 400,000 of their countrymen had immigrated to the US alone!

However, this equation changed dramatically in the postwar setting.

Between 1945 and 1970, more than 107,000 Greek citizens immigrated to Canada, thus transforming the latter into one of the primary destinations for Greek immigration.

According to the 2011 census, 350,000 Canadian citizens characterized themselves as Greek or of Greek origin. The majority of those individuals, amounting to 63 percent, lived in the large cities of Montréal and Toronto.