Learn about the history and culture of Poles within Canada.
Immigrants from Poland began arriving in Canada immediately after the country's first partition in the late 1700s. According to the 2016 census, around one million Canadians claim full or partial Polish ancestry, with 191,775 speaking Polish as their native language.
The first Polish immigrants that moved to Canada were from the Kashub region of northern Poland. Many Kashubian families moved to eastern Ontario to take advantage of free land offers when their homeland was taken by Prussian control. The second wave of Polish immigrants to Canada happened from the 1890s until 1921.
From the first two waves, many families came from Austrian-occupied territory. During the Great Depression, Polish entry to Canada was heavily limited, with just around 3,500 immigrants permitted in, mostly on the basis of family reunion.
The official language of Poland is Polish. The language is a member of the Slavic language family, which is Europe's 3rd largest language family. Despite Russian and German efforts to undermine Polish, the language survived the division and is still used today.
The majority of Poles are Roman Catholics, but there are also Lutherans and members of the United Church. The United Church is a mainline Protestant denomination. The development of social groups, as well as the Polish government's diplomacy, in the 1930s laid the foundation of the preservation of Polish traditions.
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