Why We Are

After the end of the Second World War a mass of newcomers flooded into Canada from Eastern Europe. Some ran away to save their lives, others to avoid political oppression and others for economic reasons in order to find a better life. A large group of Slovenian immigrants (sometimes referred to as Displaced Persons or DP's) made their way to Toronto and started to organize some social life among themselves.

They greatly augmented the existing community of Slovenians in Toronto who had arrived in the twenties and thirties. One of the first achievements of the newcomers was to build a catholic church on Manning Avenue in the heart of Toronto. Soon after, they started to think about a gathering place for themselves to carry on with the traditions and culture which they brought from their picturesque Slovenia. They cherished the idea that some day they would be able to return home to the sunny side of the Alps. The young people, in particular those belonging to the Slovenian Sports Federation (STZ), were longing for their own place to conduct regular gym and other sport events like volleyball, table tennis and athletics. In 1961 they joined the Slovenian Home Association or Slovenski Dom on Pape Avenue in Toronto. Similarly, the SLS (Slovenian Peoples Party), gathering the centre of political immigrants, joined with them. Out of a large industrial garage the builders: Lojze Dolenc, Janez Kastelic, Frank Demšar, Joseph Kastelic and others, with the help of young sportsmen and gymnasts, renovated the building. They converted the structure into two attractive halls, a large kitchen and a bar. To cover the expenses of the newly renovated building, they organized banquets, social and cultural evenings as well as gymnastic lessons for the young people. All these activities provided for the social and cultural life of Slovenians in their new country, Canada. They also provided a voice and contributions to the multicultural mosaic of Canada. In the long run, the activities of Slovenski Dom were directed towards a free Slovenia, which at that time was under communist rule. Members of Slovenski Dom were the backbone of the Slovenian Canadian Council, Slovenian Sports Federation (STZ), Slovenian Peoples Party (SLS) and celebrations of Slovenian Days. A lot of people worked long and hard to maintain Slovenski Dom over the years. All work was done voluntarily for the cause and not for money. Many families together with old and young participated. The first directors of Slovenski Dom were Peter Markeš, Joseph Turk, John Kastelic, John Muhič, Alois Dolenc, Otmar Mauser, Frank Demšar, Peter Klopčič, Joseph Kastelic and Božo Košir. Later came Frank Gormek, Frank Arhar, Peter Markeš Jr., Oscar Koren, Lino Podgornik, Frank Nagode, Peter Pavlin, Stan Sajnovič, Mary Sirk, Karl Pinterič, Stefan Bohnec and many others. Together they have made an enormous contribution to Slovenski Dom, to Canada and to Slovenia.


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