Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Ontario

Most of Canada's Lithuanians live in Ontario and some 85% of Canada's Lithuanian heritage is located there.

Ontario had 8 out of 12 Lithuanian-Canadian churches, for example, the only Lithuanain-Canadian cemetery and much of the Lithuanian secular sites. All the sites have been built after World War 2: while there were some Lithuanians in Ontario before then, their numbers were too small to build anything permanent that would last until today. Only as the patriotic Soviet Genocide refugees (Displaced People) arrived the communities swelled enough and began seeing as creating pieces of Lithuania in Canada as important.

A fragment of the Lithuanian soldier stained-glass window in Hamilton Lithuanian church extension

A fragment of the Lithuanian soldier stained-glass window in Hamilton Lithuanian church

The main Lithuanian area in Ontario is Toronto - the city, together with its suburbs, has over 18000 Lithuanians, or some 1/3rd of Canada's total number. There are three main Lithuanian hubs here, all west from the downtown.
*Immediately next to Downtown there is the secular Lithuanian House, Vilnius Manor senior apartments and a park named after Lithuania. Historically, there were also three Lithuanian parishes, two of which moved further west and one closed.

Lithuanian House of Toronto

Lithuanian House of Toronto

*Further west, there is the Ressurection Lithuanian parish with a monastery and a nursing home.
*In Mississauga, beyond the official Toronto boundaries, there is "Anapilis" Lithuanian cultural hub that includes a Lithuanian Martyrs church, a museum-archive, and Canada's only Lithuanian cemetery, which is arguably the top Lithuanian sight in Canada.
In every of the Lithuanian hubs there are also Lithuanian credit co-operatives.

Hill of Crosses and the Lithuanian Martyrs chapel of the Mississauga St. John Lithuanian cemetery

Hill of Crosses and the Lithuanian Martyrs chapel of the Mississauga St. John Lithuanian cemetery

Hamilton city is like a mini-Toronto in terms of Lithuanian heritage. It has Ontario's second-largest Lithuanian community, a very ethnically-designed Lithuanian church with a Lithuanian club, Lithuanian senior apartments, Lithuanian credit union and a Lithuanian hunting club.

Lithuanian barn at the Hamilton Lithuanian Youth Center

Lithuanian barn at the Hamilton Lithuanian Youth Center

Lithuanians have also settled in a few of the smaller industrial cities of Ontario: Windsor, London, St. Catharines. In each of them, they have bought church buildings ~1960 and renovated them to be more ethnic. However, as the youth were intermarrying with non-Lithuanians or moving out of the cities, the parishes dwindled. Only in St. Catharines some Lithuanian details of the church and a Lithuanian monument survived (in London, the building was demolished; in Windsor, the building was very modest and does not have anything Lithuanian anymore).

Memorial to Lithuania in St. Catharines

Memorial to Lithuania in St. Catharines

Uniquely Lithuanian is the tobacco-growing area around Delhi. The Lithuanians there worked in (and later also bought) farms rather than factories. The community is one of the oldest as many Lithuanians came there before World War 2. The community once covered many villages but its center always was Delhi where Lithuanians have a church and are represented in the local museum.

Lithuanian Martyrs cross with the St. Casmir Lithuanian church behind it

St. Casimir Lithuanian church in Delhi with a traditional Lithuanian cross in front

As Lithuanians lived longer in the cities, many began to feel a need to also spend some time in nature, at least in the summers. They had fond memories of Palanga, the top Lithuanian resort, and found the most similar place in Ontario at Wasaga Beach ~1960. The "Palanga of Canada" soon had two Lithuanian youth camps while many families and elderly Lithuanians would rent (later own) their homes. One of the camps still operates as such ("Kretinga"), serving as a Lithuanian village for Lithuanian youth. Another one turned into a permanent Lithuanian church/club as more and more elderly Lithuanians would retire to Wasaga Beach and live there in winters as well. In Midland near Wasaga Beach, Lithuanians erected a cross for Lithuanian Martyrs that became the most important Lithuanian-Canadian pilgrimage site and also inspired other Canadian groups to do the same.

Main Hall of the Kretinga Camp

Lithuanian artworks in Kretinga

Further north, there is another Lithuanian camp Romuva that belongs to the Lithuanian Scouuts and Wilno town named after Vilnius, Lithuania. Actually, its main relation with Vilnius is that it was founded by somebody from Vilnius: however, the founder was an ethnic Pole rather than an ethnic Lithuanian.

Romuva camp gate

Romuva camp gate, also serving as its symbol

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  1. The church is called Ausros Vartai (Our Lady of Mercy) in Hamilton Ontario

    • Thank you for the correction, I have edited the article. It seems though “Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn”, “Our Lady of Vilnius” are used interchangeably as names of various churches as they mention the same painting on the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius.

  2. Labas,

    Do you know the architect of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in Hamilton? Was it, by chance, Alfredas Kulpa-Kulpavicius. Is the date of the building 1053? Please let me know. I’m writing a piece about Lithuanian churches in US & Canada.

    • The date of 1053 is definitely not correct, but probably you wrote it by mistake. In 1053, obviously, there were no Lithuanians or any other Europeans in what is now Ontario. The parish was estbalished in 1949 and the church likely built later. To have exact information, you may contact the parish itself through Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Ourladyofmercyhamilton/ .


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