Unlike many other immigrant groups that have made Canada their
adoptive homeland, the Croatian peoples did not arrive in Alberta or
Canada as a part of the huge wave of settlers at the turn of the
century. At that time, Canada's immigration policy deemed the
Croatians, as well as Italians, Serbians and Bulgarians as undesirable immigrants.
Despite their ill-gotten label as "undesirables"
however, Croatian communities did begin to form in the province around
1905 particularly in the Peace River and Coal Branch districts. These
early Croatian settlements
would be followed by others in
Edmonton, Taber, Lethbridge, and Fairview. The early Croatian communities were
largely comprised of single men that had taken up positions in the
local coal mines or set up homesteads for themselves to farm.
By the end of World War I
there were few Croatians in Canada and fewer women and families,
as the men struggled to make a living in order to send money back
to their families
in the homeland.
mid-1920s, the Canadian economy began to grow and this spurred on
the need for an increased labour force. This resulted in an
opening of the immigration policy which allowed for an
increase of Croatian immigration to Canada. Croatian
communities were established in such places as Calgary, were there
exists a strong Croatian community even today. The end of the
depression of the 1930s witnessed another influx of
Croatians to Canada. These new arrivals tended to bring with them
more education and skills than had their predecessors and, as a
result, were provided with better, more lucrative and permanent
positions. The availability of better paying jobs also allowed for
the immigration of more women and children coming to Canada to
join their fathers and reunite their families.
Many Croatians have been active in developing
cultural groups and community events that sustain
their language, culture, and religion. Many Croatians
in Alberta are Roman Catholic, and in such places as Edmonton and
Calgary there is a Croatian Roman Catholic parish. The Croatian
community has also organized soccer clubs, schools
and radio programs to encourage their cultural traditions.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.