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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)

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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 10 - “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” 297

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297 Chapter 10 “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” In the fall of 1991, after thirteen exciting, but strenuous years at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia, and at the Critical Care Unit of the Bryn Mawr Hospital, respectively, Mark and Anne Stolarik returned to Canada. They anticipated finding an even better life than they had experienced in the United States. While their first two years in Ottawa were full of hope and prom- ise, they were disappointed by age-old fractures within the Slovak community. On the other hand, they discovered new friends and relatives in Florida, who broadened their knowledge of family his- tory, and of Slovak immigration to the United States in general. On Thanksgiving weekend in November 1991 Mark, Anne and their two young sons Andrej and Matthew packed up their belongings and left Havertown, Pennsylvania, for Ottawa. That dark evening, after the usual seven-hour drive north along Inter- state 81, they crossed the border between New York State and Ontario at the Thousand Islands bridge. At the border they were amazed that the Canadian customs officer did not ask for any proof that the two boys actually belonged to the adults transport- ing them from one country to another. Instead, the youthful offi- cial closely surveyed their two cars and gave the Stolariks some paper documents to take to the Ottawa customs house, in order to pay a hefty duty on their 1990 Nissan Maxima. Their Honda hatch- back, which was a much cheaper...

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