Brief History and Activities

The first per­son born in what is now known as Czech Repub­lic (and in the Hrad­cany Cas­tle, no less) who had a con­sid­er­able impact on the devel­op­ment of Cana­da — although he nev­er vis­it­ed it — was Prince Rup­pert of Bohemia. The son of the Win­ter King and Eliz­a­beth, daugh­ter of King James, Rup­pert was born at the time of his father’s coro­na­tion in sum­mer, 1619, just a lit­tle over a year before the bat­tle of White Moun­tain (which his father lost). As his par­ents were ready to leave the coun­try, a baby’s cry­ing attract­ed the atten­tion of his father’s cham­ber­lain who threw the baby-boy into the last wag­on leav­ing Prague in his par­ents’ train. On May 2, 1670, King Charles signed a roy­al char­ter giv­ing “Our Dear and Entire­ly Beloved Prince Rup­pert” and the sev­en­teen oth­ers who formed the com­pa­ny the monop­oly of trade on the ter­ri­to­ry drain­ing into Hud­son Bay, and mak­ing them its “True and absolute Lordes and Pro­pri­etors”.

The first Czech immi­grants who came to Cana­da were most like­ly the Mora­vian Breth­ern who after the fail­ure of their first attempt in 1752, suc­ceed­ed in 1771 to estab­lish their first reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty in Labrador to car­ry on mis­sion­ary and social work among the Inu­its. Oth­er groups found­ed in 1792 a set­tle­ment on the Thames Riv­er in Ontario which they called Fair­field, where on Octo­ber 5, 1813 the Amer­i­can and British forces fought the Bat­tle of Moravi­a­town. The mis­sion was main­tained by the Mora­vian Breth­ern until 1902, when it was tak­en over by the Methodist, now the Unit­ed Church.

The large scale immi­gra­tion of Czech and Slo­vaks to Cana­da start­ed in the mid-1880 and came in four waves: before World War I. (a fair num­ber of them served in the “Bohemi­an Detach­ment” of the 223rd Bat­tal­ion, Cana­di­an Expe­di­tionary Force in the First World War), between the two World Wars, in 1948 after the com­mu­nist coup d’e­tat, and after the 1968 Sovi­et inva­sion to Czecho­slo­va­kia. The first Slo­vak immi­grant was Jozef Bal­lon, who land­ed in Cana­da in 1878 and start­ed a wire­works fac­to­ry in Toron­to. A sig­nif­i­cant group of Czech immi­grants set­tled in Kolin, Saskatchewan, in 1884. Although they can be found in every larg­er com­mu­ni­ty in Cana­da, the Czech and Slo­vak immi­grants con­cen­trat­ed in South­ern Ontario, Man­i­to­ba, British Colum­bia, around Mon­tre­al and in Alber­ta. Most of them were quite suc­cess­ful, many left their mark on a larg­er com­mu­ni­ty and were induct­ed into the Order of Cana­da.

Our orga­ni­za­tion, under the name of Czechoslo­vak Nation­al asso­ci­a­tion of Cana­da was found­ed in 1939, as an orga­ni­za­tion of Cana­di­ans of Czech and Slo­vak ori­gin. It was incor­po­rat­ed as a non-prof­it cor­po­ra­tion on Sep­tem­ber 28, 1960. In May 1995 it changed its name to Czech and Slo­vak Asso­ci­a­tion of Cana­da — Ceské a Sloven­ské sdružení v Kanade.

The main objects of the Asso­ci­a­tion are: — To devel­op the high­est stan­dards of cit­i­zen­ship in Cana­di­ans of Czech and Slo­vak ori­gin;

  • To pro­mote tol­er­ance, under­stand­ing and good­will between all eth­nic groups in Cana­da;
  • To assist Czech and Slo­vak refugees;
  • To help to main­tain and defend free­dom and democ­ra­cy in Cana­da;
  • To sup­port Canada’s efforts to uphold, strength­en and estab­lish demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem of gov­ern­ment every­where in the world.

Our Asso­ci­a­tion’s record of ser­vice to the caus­es inspired by our char­ter is a proud one. Dur­ing World War II. our Asso­ci­a­tion whose then Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al, Karel Buzek, C.M. estab­lished 92 chap­ters all across Cana­da, pro­vid­ed sig­nif­i­cant aid to the Allied forces and par­tic­u­lar­ly to the Czechoslo­vak units based in Great Britain. As well, many mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty enlist­ed in all three branch­es of the Cana­di­an armed ser­vices.

After the Coup d’e­tat in Feb­ru­ary 1948 in which the Com­mu­nists exe­cut­ed, tor­tured or put in con­cen­tra­tion camps some of the best men and women of our native land and expro­pri­at­ed every last bar­ber shop, our Asso­ci­a­tion helped to keep alive the ideals of free­dom and democ­ra­cy in Czecho­slo­va­kia and did much for the refugees in the refugee camps in Europe, and lat­er in Cana­da. Par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive was the work of the Wom­en’s Coun­cil of the Czechoslo­vak Asso­ci­a­tion of Cana­da, and Cana­di­an Fund for Czechoslo­vak Refugees. We shall always be grate­ful to the Cana­di­an Gov­ern­ment for bring­ing, with­in six months of the coup d’e­tat, some 12,000 Czech and Slo­vak refugees to Cana­da. We believe that a huge major­i­ty of them proved wor­thy of Canada’s com­pas­sion­ate ges­ture.

Since the fall of the Iron Cur­tain we pro­vid­ed assis­tance to the new­ly born democ­ra­cy in Czecho­slo­va­kia by coor­di­nat­ing efforts of var­i­ous orga­ni­za­tions such as Demo­c­ra­t­ic Corps of Assis­tance (Van­cou­ver), Edu­ca­tion for Democ­ra­cy (Toron­to), Cana­da-Czecho­slo­va­kia Cham­ber of Com­merce (Toron­to), Cana­di­an Fund for Czechoslo­vak Uni­ver­si­ties (now Cana­di­an Fund for Czech Uni­ver­si­ties) and by sup­port­ing Canada’s pol­i­cy of admit­ting Poland, Hun­gary and the Czech Repub­lic to NATO.

The Czech and Slo­vak Asso­ci­a­tion is a mem­ber of the Cana­di­an Eth­no­cul­tur­al Coun­cil and of the Ontario Coun­cil Agen­cies Serv­ing Immi­grants.