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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)


Mark Stolarik

Between 1870 and 2010 over half a million Slovaks migrated to the USA and Canada. As other ethnic groups from East Central Europe, they headed principally to the industrial triangle of the USA and to central Canada’s cities in search of work. Finding themselves in strange surroundings, they quickly established institutions that helped them to survive in a capitalist economy and to also preserve their religion, language and culture. As for many other ethnic groups, the border between the USA and Canada was to them irrelevant. Slovaks crossed it according to economic need and stayed in touch with each other. Meanwhile, they also remained in touch with their families in Europe and helped their people to survive Magyarization in Austria-Hungary, to achieve self-determination in the new Republic of Czechoslovakia and, finally, independence.
For the first time ever, the author has told the epic story of Slovak immigration to North America. Based upon forty years of archival and library research, supplemented by the life histories of over two dozen families scattered across the USA and Canada, and lavishly illustrated, this book will satisfy both academics and the general public who have long been waiting for a comprehensive history of this significant member of the family of Slavic nations.


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Chapter 4 - Canada Beckons 107


107 Chapter 4 Canada Beckons Slovaks who emigrated to Canada in the twentieth century came one generation later than their American counterparts but faced similar challenges. The earliest arrivals came via the United States and settled in Canada’s West. Only later did they drift eastwards, settling principally in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Here they encountered problems similar to those faced by their Ameri- can cousins and they responded in comparable ways by establish- ing fraternal-benefit societies, parish churches and a newspaper press. Unfortunately, divisions reflecting those that appeared among American Slovaks also surfaced in Canada, and by the end of World War II Canadian Slovaks faced the same dilemma re- garding the future of Slovakia. Some two decades after the Com- munist takeover of Czechoslovakia, Canadian newlyweds Mark and Anne Stolarik, honeymooning in their families’ homeland, found themselves thrust into the midst of one of the greatest acts of aggression committed against the Czechs and Slovaks in the twentieth century and learned to live with its consequences. A black cat ran across the paved highway in front of Mark Stolarik’s green Volkswagen “Beetle” as he drove north from the eastern Slovak metropolis of Košice to the neighboring city of Prešov in the late evening of August 20, 1968.1 “I wonder if the old wives’ tales about black cats crossing your path are really true?” asked his wife Anne. “I doubt it,” Mark reassured her, as they sped past the village of Drienov, from which so many...

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