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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 6 - Adjusting to Canada 171


171 Chapter 6 Adjusting to Canada Adjusting to life in Canada depended upon one’s age. For postwar émigrés’children it was relatively easy. They went to school, learned to speak English, found part-time and summer jobs and eventu- ally permanent, professional employment. For the adults it was more difficult, particularly for Imrich Stolárik who had to rebuild his life in a strange world. Rebuild he did, from common laborer to civil servant. Meanwhile, he also created institutions vital to the survival of the Slovak community in Ottawa. On Monday, January 8, 1951, the start-to-work siren at Hull’s E. B. Eddy Pulp and Paper plant, situated on the Ottawa River across from Canada’s Parliament buildings, started to blast at 8:00 a. m., as usual. It awakened the Stolárik children, whose apartment was just one block north of the mill.1 For the next three years it would remind them that it was time to rise and prepare for school. After a breakfast of rye bread and butter, washed down with weak ‘café au lait,’ Veronica gave Milan, Gitka and Marián a quarter each and told them to ask the driver for “tickets” when they boarded the local bus, just one block north, in front of the “Hôtel de Ville” (City Hall). They did so, and after they dropped their quarters into the farebox, were given a packet of seven tick- ets, which they would use to get to school by 9:00 a. m. (they would...

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