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Romanian Profile provided courtesy of the 1984 Alberta People Kit

  Romania is situated on the Black Sea to the north of the former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Its history dates back to the time of the Roman Empire.

In the past 1000 years, what now comprises Romania was divided into a number of smaller states, the largest of which were Walachia and Moldavia. These areas were part of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian or Turkish empires until the 19th century. In 1859, Walachia and Moldavia united under the rule of Prince Alexandra Ioan Cuza and their independence from the Ottoman Turks was achieved in 1878. The new union excluded the Romanians of Bukovina, Transylvania and the Banat, who did not unite with Walachia and Moldavia until 1919.

Romanian immigrants first came to Canada in the 1890s along with many other Eastern Europe who had left their home countries to escape poverty and political oppression. Most of the Romanians coming to Canada at this time were former residents of Transylvania or Bukvina, which had not yet become a part of Romania.

Ikim Yurko and Vaselie Rawliuk were among the first Romanians to come to Alberta, both arriving in 1898. Romanian settlements were founded at Boian and Ispas, the names of villages in Romania. The first Roman Orthodox Church in Alberta was built in Boian in 1905. Now an historical site, St. Mary's Romanian Church continues to support the Romanian Canadian community in Alberta. 

By 1921, there were over 13,000 Romanians in Canada. Immigration over the following decade brought this total to over 29,000. The Depression years brought about a drastic decrease in the number of immigrants coming to Canada. Canadian economic conditions were so poor that several thousands of Romanians left the country and returned to Romania. By 1941, the Romanian population in Canada had dropped to about 25,000. The post war period witnessed a substantial increase in Romanian immigration to Canada and the Romanian population nearly doubled, reaching 44,000 by 1961. Almost all of this increase could be accounted for by emigrants fleeing communist rule in their home country. In 1989, when the despotic Ceausesco regime ended, another phase of immigration to Canada began. Approximately 132,000 people of Romanian descent now live in Canada, about 20,200 in Alberta. Around half of this number live in Edmonton.

Romanian cultural organizations are traditionally associated with the church. The Romanian Orthodox Church in Edmonton and its affiliated organizations sponsor a number of cultural programs, including several folk art projects and a local radio show broadcast on CKER. The community surrounding the St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church in Calgary and the parish based community organization at Willingdon are also very active in cultural affairs.

Romanians are renowned for their love of folklore, folksongs and dancing, which is proudly displayed at Romanian festivals across Canada. Balada Romanian Folk Dance Ensemble of Edmonton is non-profit cultural organization that is active in the Romanian Canadian community in Edmonton. Established in 1975, it is still thriving.

Romanians are long time contributors to Alberta culture. Their achievements were officially acknowledged in 1975, when St. Mary's Romanian Church in Boian was declared an historic site and subsequently became the focal point of the Boian Museum. 

 


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