From Immigrants to Ethnic Group: Croats in Canada
The paper “From immigrants to ethnic group: Croats in Canada” is a part of the
initial phase of the project “Portuguese, Norwegians and Croats in Canada: A
Comparative Analysis”, which aim (was) is to provide a general socio-historical
picture of the respective ethnic group in Canada. Though condensed, the paper hopes to accomplish the purpose of introducing the major aspects of the settlement, living conditions and integration of Croats in the Canadian society. The paper has been compiled from the following articles: Rasporich, Anthony, W. “Three Generations of
Croatian Immigrants in Canada: A Hartzian Perspective”; Herman V. Harry
“Occupational Concentration of Early Croatian Immigrants to Ontario”; Herman, V.
Harry. “Two Associations: The Croatian Fraternal Union and the Croatian Peasant Party”; Bubrin, Vladimir “Thirty-five years of Croatian heritage language in
Toronto”; Bubrin, Vladimir “”,The involvement of Croatians in the political life of
Canada”, all published in the book “Unknown journey : A history of Croatians in
Canada” (eds. M. Sopta&G. Scardellato), Multicultural History Society of Ontario, University of Toronto Press Inc., Polyphony series, 1994.
Three generations of Croatian immigrants in Canada
Some two and half decades ago, the American political scientist and historian Louis Hartz, wrote a work titled “The Founding of New Societies”, in which he explored the
cultural and ideological dynamics of transplanting European societies, or their fragments, to the New World. The theory briefly says: Old World societies export either representative or dissenting ideological fragments to a new colonial context, which in turn are universalized as national fragments fixed in time and space. Thus a new nationalism arises. The newly universalized ethos then assumes cultural primacy, which in dialectical terms becomes the cultural thesis against which counter-ideologies, or antithesis, compete. The Hartzian approach has been applied to the dualistic tradition of French and English in Canada.
Though the Hartzian model is somewhat peripheral for the study of immigrant groups in Canada since they have operated outside the influence of the dominant political culture and its regional and class dissent, yet the value of such an approach is that it presents a socio-cultural matrix for the comprehensive understanding of the country’s various waves of migration. Indeed, it may be possible to construct for each immigrant group a chronological, class, and ideological framework for analysis of the intra-group dynamics of their respective histories. For the Croats in particular, it would seem even more appropriate because of the various jurisdictions which have governed their destinies in the twentieth century: the Hapsburg Monarchy until World War I; the Yugoslav Monarchy in the interwar period; the Communist/Socialist
Republic of Yugoslavia after 1945; the independent Republic of Croatia after 1991. In each case the state has imposed a particular value system which has affected the Croats as a minority, and which has pursued an attitude more or less supportive or resistant to migration.
The first wave: 1900-14
The first group of Croatian immigrants, numbering about 6,000 to 10,000, was essentially a movement of young men, single or married, of immigrants with a specific goal to earn an additonal income for their impoverished families back home. For them, permanent settlement in North America was largely not intended, even though many did stay once they have experienced the life there. Furthermore, these late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century migrants were rootless people and only in a loose way attached to the Austro-Hungarian Empire which goverened them. Though their Croatian national loyalties may already have been aroused in the nineteenth century by the spread of the ideology of the Illyrian movement or the political ideas of Ante Starčević, one must be careful about prematurely attributing nationalistic
aspirations to a largely illiterate or barely literate peasant population. These early immigrants were largely rural people with whom the local identity of the zadruga and
the selo transcended all others of province, region, and empire. For them the state represented taxes and oppression, and military service; many of the railway workers, miners, and loggers of Austro-Hungarian extraction were evading military service prior to 1914. Thus, like many others of Central and East European background who came to Canada in the late nineteenth century, the avoidance of the state apparatus was more of a driving force for migration than the positive pull of settlement in Canada. Like the French Canadians, the Irish, and the Poles, the Croats also clung to their Catholicism, as their refuge against external oppression.
Another point to be made is that this highly mobile, essentially non-family, male migration was located largely at the frontier margins of North American society, in the Canadian North-West. The vast majority of the less than 10,000 pre-World War I immigrants were men of temporary addresses. Most occupied, with their Slavic and East European counterparts, the proverbial bunkhouse, and risked life and health in hazardous occupations previously reserved for the Irish and French Canadians. As marginal men in their native country, the Croats were equally marginal men on the Canadian frontier.This first generation of settlers was fundamentally North American in aspiration and experience. They, like most immigrants, travelled with relative ease across the Canadian-American line, both legally and illegally, wherever their search for livelihood carried them. Thus before 1910, steelworkers and industrial labourers crossed from Pennsylvania to Ontario; fishermen in Washington and British Colombia plied common waters; lumberworkers and railway navvies in northern Ontario commonly worked in Minnesota and northern Michigan; and gold and silver miners travelled north from the Pacific coast of the United States to the Klondike rush after 1898. When the First World War involved Canada in 1914 as a colony of Great Britain, many Croats drifted back across the undefended border, evading the detention camps set up for them as enemy aliens from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Canada.
The few permanent settlements of Croats established in Canada prior to World War I also appeared to have some north-south as well as east-west axis in the pre-war period.
One small settlement of Croats at Duck lake, Saskatchewan, seems to have been formed by refugees from the violent Calumet, Michigan strike of 1912. Also, the main bloc of Croatian settlement in the Kenaston-Hanley district of Saskatoon appears to have had a connection with the American mid west in Kansas and Oklahoma, from which the founding families had migrated in 1905. Somewhat further east, the settlement of the Niagara peninsula at Welland and Port Colborne in its first phase also was tied quite closely to the Pittsburgh Croatian community, as was evident in the early establishment of a Croatian Fraternal Union lodge in 1909. Indeed, the Croatian community had already extended as far west as Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, with the establishment of the first lodge of the National Croatian Union there in 1903. Accompanying that westward movement of miners was the United Mineworkers of America who contributed to the radicalization of the coalfields of Vancouver Island in the period immediately before 1914.
To sum up, one might say of the first generation of Croatian immigrants that they were essentially rural migrants without a professional and middle class to represent them legally or to act as community spokemen. They were largely informed of the old-world events through correspondence with relatives both in the old and new world, or by newspapers coming from the Croatian-American community in the United States. As part of a largely oral and peasant culture, they depended mainly on family and kin for information from the old country, or if in the new world, more likely upon a close friend or a work-group of largely Croatian labourers. Ethnicity or self-awareness of one’s Croatianness therefore existed upon a very thin lifeline of kinship and oral culture. As it was essentially preliterate and not dependent on books, newspapers, or periodicals or any of the later instruments of community association, it was not surprising that these early immigrants often sought the first opportunity to return to their homeland.
It is important to mention that in the process of migration, an elaborate network of information developed among Croatian immigrants, especially in this early phase. They informed each other about job opportunities and wages in different localities, as well as about the working conditions and treatment of workers in various companies. This networking contributed to the regional concentrations of Croats in some localities in Ontario. For example, there was a concentration of Croats from Dalmatia in Port Arthur; from Lika and Zumberak in Schumacher, and from Hrvatsko Primorje, Lika, and Herzegovina in Sault Ste. Marie. The early Croatian immigrants preferred hard, physical work which paid well. Not many of the early Croatian immigrants to Canada went into farming. The reasons for this may be found not only in the fact that their ultimate goal was to return to their native villages, but also because these people, particularly those coming from the Dinaric regions (from where many Croats originated), were unfamiliar with the type of farming in Ontario. In some rare cases, immigrants began to farm as an expansion of their cultivation of small garden plots. This happened among Croatian foundry workers in Welland, for example. But these Croatian immigrants were from Zagorje, north of Zagreb. Also, very few Croatians from this early period owned their own businesses. The only exception have occurred with boarding houses which, as happened in Schumacher for example, in some instances, evolved into small hotels. Those Croats who came to Canada via the United States, had learned more about business and some of them became small contractors for railway or timber companies, while others became restaurant owners, or owned bakeries or grocery stores in the primary resource towns of northern Ontario. But all
these were exceptions. Early Croatian immigrants clearly saw employment in primary resource industries or in steel mills as the only possibility of earning a living in their new environment.
Interwar Migrants (1919-39): The Fragmented Political Community
The largely unorganized and diffusely spread immigrants of the first generation gave way in the 1920s to a larger migration of 15,000 Croats who intended to stay, particularly after restrictive American immigration quotas were imposed in 1924. Entering the country ostensibly as agricultural workers to satisfy the railway regulations governing immigrant labour, most were soon searching for a permanent job in the industrial and urban labour force. All told, they formed by the late 1920s about 200 small communities that were recorded in Arthur Benko Grado’s
Migracione Encyclopedia in 1930. The communities spread from Sydney and
Stellarton in Nova Scotia to Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.
The interwar generation can broadly be considered as “joiners”, people who were
mutually dependent on a variety of institutions from clubs and political organizations to mutual benefit organizations. For the first time, the Croatian Canadians had a voice in the newspaper network established through the 1920s with the Croatian Fraternal Union in Pittsburgh and its Zajednicar, to the Croatian Peasant Party’s Hrvatski Glas
based in Winnipeg after 1929. The 1930s witnessed the formation of various community halls where cultural events could be hosted and musical and drama traditions fostered. While the drive for churches and Croatian-speaking priests continued throughtout the 1930s, little success such efforts brought since they ran against the assimilative policy of the Anglo-Canadian parishes. Similarly, Croatian language schools were only sustained by part-time efforts of community-minded individuals, usually in private homes and later in community halls. What was clear was that the aspiration for what the Canadian sociologist, Raymond Breton, has called “institutional completeness”, did exist, although it was only partially realized within this generation. Since the male to female ratio was the most unbalanced of any ethnic group with the exception of the Chinese in the 1920s, intermarriage with other ethnic groups became common in the frontier towns where most of the Croats lived. Yet another assault on ethnic group identity as powerful as the American melting pot in the United States was the school, particularly in Ontario and the prairie provinces. As one second-generation informant observed. “The immigrant’s children were
considered different because of their customs, language barrier, and possibly their dress. When they were in school they provided a constant source of laughter and ridicule. However, this situation soon disappeared as the new pupils mastered the new language.”
The public schools became powerful means of preparing the newcomers for the Canadian way of life. The phrase, “the Canadian way of life,” was laden with political meaning for it carried the notion of Anglo-conformity and British institutions. While the British terminology did not yet allow immigrants as fully equal partners since they were not yet educated “up to” the ideal standards of the Anglo-Canadian, they were
regarded as being in a state of transition to a higher level of political participation. For the time being the various immigrant groups were part of a pluralist “mosaic”, distinct yet different, equal under the law and the suzerainty of the British Crown.
Like many other Canadian immigrant groups Croats voted for the Liberal party of Mackenize King in 1935 and 1940, in imitation of their Croatian-American contemporaries who voted for Roosevelt and the New Deal. One political group or sub-group among the Croats that did not participate in the political trend towards Liberalism was the left-wing or Communist Party. Considered as illegal and subject to deportation under Section 98 of the Criminal Code, this group suffered considerable surveillance and persecution from 1930-35 under the Conservative administration of R.B. Bennet. Most were single-male migrants who found themselves radicalized by the poverty, strikes, and militancy prompted by the Great Depression. Some suffered imprisonment or deportation for their participation in radical strike action or subversive political activity, and found their way back to Europe to fight in the Spanish Civil War and later to Yugoslavia and the partisan resistance in World War II. Some others (like Peter Zapkar and Edo Jardas) remained in Canada in the more liberalized political atmosphere, editing the radical newspapers Borba and its
successor, Slobodna Misao, into the war period.
Thus, the Croatian political community on the eve of World War II was fundamentally divided between left and middle elements on the political spectrum. This tension was reflected in often bitter organizational disputes for control of cultural facilities, such as the one in Vancouver which resulted in the closure of the Croatian Home there in 1940. Since, however, both had a common antipathy towards the Serbian-dominated political system in Yugoslavia they were reconciled in their agreement after 1939 with the necessity to fight fascism in Europe; but the alliance between the two main political factions had only lasted for the duration of the war.
The Postwar Migration: The Third Wave
The postwar period was distinguished by several notable changes in the nature and character of Croatian immigration. In the first instance, the new immigrants were generally better educated and more urban in their life experience; consequently, they were more inclined to migrate to the larger towns and cities in Canada. As a function of their greater literacy and often higher social standing, the new immigrants - particularly the displaced professionals in the postwar refugee groups - began to establish the foundations of a cultural intelligentsia in Canada. Thus one notes in the postwar generation an emerging element of self-conscious ethnicity in the striving for, and achievemnet of, a greater degree of institutinal complexity. With the buildings of halls, churches, and cultural centres by the 1970s, the Croats possessed the public means to sustain their own ethnicity. With the increasing emphasis during the 1960s and 1970s of a sense of ethnic pride, and the policy of multiculturalism initiated in 1971, Croatianness became established as a social good to which migrants and their children could aspire publicly.
Statistically, the new migration increased the numbers of Croatians in Canada considerably. Approximately 12,000 in 1941, the population grew with 1,500 refugees in 1944, 5,300 in 1956, and 10,000 in the first nine months of 1957. The total of official immigrants from Yugoslavia in this period from 1945 to 1971 amounted to some 120,000, a number roughly conforming with the 104,000 who declared themselves of “Yugoslav origin” in the 1971 census. Of these, only 23,380 in 1971 and 33,000 in 1981 chose to identify themselves as Croats, but one can safely estimate
by emigration data that at least 65,000 to 75,000 people of the 104,000 figure were Croats. These new migrants came by thousands to Canada’s cities, particularly to Toronto whre the Croatian community stood at about 25,000 to 30,000 in 1975. Another demographic factor to be mentioned is that the postwar Croatian-born immigrants outnumbered the Canadian-born descendants by 28,000 to 11,000 in 1961, and 42,000 to 29,000 in 1971. The new immigrants were concentrated in the larger cities, particularly Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary; and in Ontario, which had over seventy per cent of the foreign-born in 1971. This new immigrants were also more residentially segregated than previous migrants, and they were likely to be employed in the service and manufacturing sector. Finally, there were distinctions in the occupantional distribution between the Canadian-born and educated Croats who now penetrated the white collar and professional occupations to a greater degree than ever before. This trend was duplicated among the Yugoslav (Croatian)-born and trained who now counted among their numbers for the first time professional educators, artists, medical personnel, intellectuals and religious orders.
From these demographic structural differences developed tensions between the new migrants and previous generations, as for example, in the 1950s when the refugee phenomenon was at its greatest. Considerable resentiman was directed at the displaced persons by the older Croatian community, whose members were by now well settled into their jobs and homes. The new immigrants, both refugees and others, were often perceived as overly materialistic and concerned with getting ahead as quickly as possible, without concern for the previously established community. For their part, the new immigrants were quick to acquire citizenship and home ownership and other visible symbols of North American material success in the boom period of the sixties and seventies. They also had developed by the seventies enough social capital, supplemented by state grants, for new institutions like churches, literary and cultural societies, musical ensembles, folklore groups, language schools, soccer clubs, and political organizations. To the previous Peasant Party and Communist factions were added several that were further to the political right, such as the United Croats of Canada and the Croatian Liberation Movement. At the same time, new newspapers like Nas Put and Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska challenged the older political
newspapers such as Hrvatski Glas and Jedinstvo, and later, Nase Novine. Also, new
organizations like the Canadian Catholic Credit Union and development companies challenged old organizations or pioneered new enterprises.
By contrast to the prewar migrants, the new concentrations of urban Croats were able to establish churches in almost every major Canadian city by the early 1980s, totalling over twenty parishes from Monteral to Vancouver. Similar successes surrounded the formation of a network of language schools in about ten cities by the late seventies. In individual terms, this generation of postwar migrants has also been more active in arts and culture, with several active writes (Alain Horic, Stjepan Hrastovec, Jozo Kutlesa), sculptors (Augustin Filipovic, Peter Bulic), artists (Paul Mostovac, Anton Cetin, Maja Miletic) as well as other musicians and dancers too numerous to mention.
Two areas in the field of sports and leisure, soccer and chess, may be mentioned as having special significance for the new immigrants. The astounding success of the Toronto Croatia Soccer Club in the early and mid 1970s that culminated in the North American Soccer league Championship in 1976, represents a high point of ethnic and community pride. Although somewhat less visible, Croatians have also had some
success with chess at provincial and national competitions (Vranesic, Brebrich and Kuprejanov) Thus this very active, and for the most part, young and dynamic generation of Croatian immigrants has begun to compete effectively in several realms of Canadian popular culture within a short time of their arrival. There are,however, also those immigrants who were regarded as undesirable by immigration authorities because of the lack of skills by many of them, particularly after the creation of the point system in 1967. In a recent context, one has to mention a quite typical tale of immigrant upward-mobility, with advances into the professions, management, business, sports and politics. They also speak of a high level of adjustment to Canadian life and an assimilation into its social and cultural processes. For many in now the second, third, and even fourth generation, ethnicity has but assumed more of a symbilic value.
There have been distinct differences in the culture and mentality of the three successive waves of Croatian immigration to Canada. Not only are they made distinct by their chronological point of departure from their homeland, but also by their point of entry into Canada. Each successive wave of immigrants: the migrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to 1919; the interwar migrants from the monarchy of Yugoslavia; and the postwar refugees and emigrants from the Socialist state of Yugoslavia, has had a distinct character. Also, immigrants have been influenced in their development by the crucial events of their generation in Canada: two world wars, the Great Depression, and postwar prosperity. Similarly, predominant Canadian values concerning immigrants, such as Anglo-Saxon conformity in the 1920s, the notion of “unhyphenated” Canadianism, and the later cultural mosaic pluralism and multiculturalism, have also had a profound influence on the visibility of Croats and other immigrants in Canada.
The generational mix then is a complex one which is further mitigated by historical events and the rate of assimilation and acculturation by each wave of immigrants. Each wave of immigrants is subjected to a series of challenges and responses in the new society. Each group nevertheless does respond on the basis of its initial character determined at the point of entry. The first generation of immigrants of the pre-1919 Austro-Hungarian era were fundamentally a rural peasant folk, many of whom were illiterate; most of them were males and without a fundamental allegiance to the nation state whether it was Austria-Hungary, Canada, or the United States. Their allegiances were largely rural and local in nature, to their home village and to their kinship network in Croatia, and these they were able to replicate in Canada. Their social and political assimilation in Canada would be the slowest of all since they were, as a folk-culture, the least institutional people of the three waves of immigrants. They were without newspapers, educational institutions, churches or any other literate means of sustaining their culture; but they were also the most resistant to the assimilative Canadian policy that sought to absorb or obliterate the immigrant.
The second generation of migrants in the interwar period were, on the other hand, generally a more socialized and politicized group, and because of their politicization were more fragmented as well. They were more literate, more nationalistic, and more institutionally complete as a group than the first wave of immigrants. Eager to adapt
and join into Canadian society, and at the same time to retain their ethnicity through such means as ethnic newspapers, cultural organizations and second-language schools, this group rapidly adapted to Canadian society in the 1930s. Particular resistance to integration was evident among those in the radical left-wing communist groups. Complete assimilation was not possible until the prosperity resulting from the war and the postwar economic activity fully engaged this generation and its offspring in the mainstream of the larger society.
The third wave of migrants, better educated and more urban than the second, was even better equipped - given the political, social, and economic climate of postwar Canada - to achieve its objectives of institutional completeness. Even more inclined to be anti-statist in its view of Yugoslavia, although for different reasons than the second generation, this third group welcomed the challenge to create a Croatian identity in Canada. More so than any group of their predecessors, this wave founded a plethora of churches, halls, cultural organizations, newspapers, and networks of clubs, schools, and sporting organizations which affirmed their Croatian identity. In doing so they were encouraged by various levels of government organizations, from the municipal to the provincial and federal, that encouraged multi-culturalism and cultural pluralism as social ideals. Their generation has been the most successful in retaining their cultural identity, although at the same time it has been enormously adaptive in its economic and social responses to Canadian society. Their formal application for Canadian citizenship has proceeded at a rapid rate, and their active participation in mainstream Canadian political parties has become generally accepted. Indeed, it is as much a reflection of developments in Canadian society as in the immigrant society, that cultural dualism for Croatian Canadians became a possibility, since multicuturalism was a direct spin-off from the policy of bilingualism and biculturalism introduced by the Liberal federal government in 1971.
Croatian Fraternal Union
In the first period of Croatian immigration to Canada and Ontario, almost all social and cultural life was centred around a few Croatian ethnic organizations especially because Croatian parishes had not yet been formed. In their absence Croatians gathered primarily around various benevolent or political organizations. In turn, these provided their members with the opportunity to socialize within their own cultural milieu and some also provided a basic social assistance which was not yet administered by the state. Two of the most prominent organizations of this type were the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU) or Hrvatska Bratska Zajednica, and the Croatian
Peasant Party (CPP) or Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka.
The Croatian Fraternal Union is one of the oldest Croatian organizations in North America. The CFU began in the United States, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1894 when six different benevolent associations banded together to form what was then known as the Croatian Association or. The Hrvatska Zajednica name was later
changed and in 1926, when it merged with the Croatian League of Illinois and the St. Joseph Society of Kansas City it became known by its present name, the Croatian Fraternal Union. In the years that followed various other Croatian benevolent associations also joined so that the CFU continued to grow.
For many immigrant groups and their ethnic organizations, the border between Canada and the United States was not a barrier. Thus, while the CFU began in the United States and retains its head office there, as soon as the Croatian communities in Canada grew to an approriate size they too started organizing CFU branches. These branches were the principle structural components of the organization and they were usually formed with the assistance of the head office in Pittsburgh.The first Canadian lodge of the CFU was formed in Nanaimo, British Columbia, in 1903, and by the year 1929 the organization numbered 4,000 members in 46 lodges and 33 youth branches. In Ontario the lodges of the CFU were formed in all major cities and towns where the sufficient number of Croatian workers lived. These lodges existed in Schumacher, Kirkland Lake, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Port Arthur, Welland, Windsor, Hamilton, and Toronto. In some locales more than one lodge was formed.
The original function of the CFU was to provide mutual help, support, and protection of Croatian immigrants in case of death or injury. Eventually, however, the organization developed into the largest social, cultural, and political Croatian organization in North America. Over the years the management of the CFU adopted a number of political positions on the state of affairs in Croatia. The activities of this organization were, to a large extent, determined by the interests of the majority of its members, Croatian immigrants in both the United States and Canada, and the same it true of the organization’s attitudes toward political, economic, and social changes that took place in Croatia. During the First World War, for example, the CFU campaigned for self-determination for various nations within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At first, Croats in North Amrica supported the formation of a South Slavic state. However, after this had been accomplished and Croats began to experience the suppression of their rights and identity in the newly formed state the CFU, and its newspaper the Fraternalist (Zajednicar) became an instrument by which Croatian
immigrants could express their protest. The newspaper became an important vehicle by which Croats in North America were informed about political events in their homeland. Regardless of the historical circumstances and the political position of its management and president, the CFU never abandoned its two deeply rooted principles; namely, its commitment to the democratic process and its defence of the concept of Croatian identity. Besides the importance that the members of the organization attached to everything political, they used their membership in the association for various social and cultural activities. They organized picnics, dances, and performances, and sponsored tamburica playing and other things. Besides, the
officials of the organization attempted to assist their members and other Croats who were in trouble. During World War I, for example, when Canadian government officials sought out and interned many immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a number of Croatians were imprisoned or interned in camps. The CFU intervened with the Canadian governments on their behalf and several were freed. CFU officials were also called to intervene on behalf of members who were involved in various strikes. During the Second World War the leadership of the CFU supported the Partisans in Yugoslavia and after the war maintained a friendly relationship with Tito’s government. Between 1941 and 1946 the organization had collected some 450,000 US dollars for the Yugolsav Relief Fund.
Over the following years the organization tried to avoid politics but the fact that it maintained friendly relations with Yugoslavia did not please many Croatian immigrants of the post-World War II migration. Many kept away from joining
because they interpreted the maintenance of ties between the CFU and the Emigrant Council of Croatia, Matica Iseljenika Hrvatske, as a pro-communist stance. Membership in the CFU up to the early 1980s did not grow in proportion to the number of Croatians who settled in the province. In fact, membership in the CFU began to decline in the mid 1960s. In 1963 membership stood at 73,o67 adult members in 552 lodges but by 1967 this had declined to 67,343 adult members in 527 lodges. In 1978 the new international president, Bernard M. Luketich, was elected and he initiated a number of measures to attempt to reverse the decline. Significantly, the fifteenth convention of the CFU was held in September 1979 in Toronto, Ontario, perhaps in recogniton of this city and this province as the most rigorous and culturally active Croatian centre in North America at that time. Mr. Luketich emphasized the importance of the CFU as an organization that can represent all Croats in the United States and Canada. New approaches and efforts succeeded in improving the CFU’s assets which had reached a sum of some eighty million dollars by 1988. In 1994 the CFU celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary with the membership with 100,000. In Canada by 1988 the CFU had a total of forty-eight lodges of which thirty were located in Ontario, out of which six in Toronto.
The names chosen for a particular lodge may be an expression of the ideology of those Croatian immigrants who decided to join the CFU. In these names one can recognize many political positions from those that were on the labour-oriented left (Radnik, Radnicka Grana) or possibly even revolutionary (Matija Gubec), a name commemorating the leader of the peasant uprising in the Middle Ages) through the pan-Slavic (Slavensko Bratstvo, Slozni Slaveni), and even to the local patriotic (Zagreb, Karlovac). There are also those names that describe a professional or occupational orientation like farming (Slozni Farmeri) or have more literary pretensions (A.G. Matos), a name that commemorates the famous Croatian author). Thus far, the CFU has endured for over hundred years on the North American continent and there are good reasons to believe that it will continue to exist and prosper here as the largest and oldest Croatian organization overseas.
The Croatian Peasant Party
The CFU was not the only Croatian organization to operate in both the United States and Canada and also it was not the only one whose original function changed over time to encompass a wider range of activities. The other large organization of this type that attracted many early Croatian immigrants in both Canada and the United States was the Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka or Croatian Peasant Party (CPP). Unlike the
Croatian Fraternal Union however, the CPP had its origin in Croatia where it was the political party with the largest following within the Southern Slavic State. Its original leader, Stjepan Radic, was the most popular politician in the region but he did not live to see the formation of the CPP in Canada. He was assassinated by a Serbian deputy from Montenegro during the session in the Yugoslav Parliament in Belgrade in 1928. The indignation felt by all Croatians over this act provided the impetus for the eventual formation of the CPP in Canada. Some Croatians in Canada had been party members or supporters before their departure. Additionally, many Croatian immigrants who had been involved in politics in Croatia became sensitive to the political process in their homeland by listening either to their colleagues and/or by