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Small town Ontario

In addition to Toronto after World War 2 Lithuanians also moved to small Ontario towns. Multiple such town have Lithuanian churches dating to ~1950s: somewhat modern, somewhat old in style appropriate for a time when the Lithuanian refugees were living with both the modern realities of Canada and their old traditions. A wooden corss or chapel-post stands in the yards to tell everyone that Lituanity has not been destroyedeven if there was no independent Lithuania at the time.

In Delhi the Lithuanians worked at tobacco plantations. In 1959 they used an opportunity to buy a small local church (as its parish moved into a larger building) thereby establishing St. Casimir church (41 Talbot Road).

St. Casimir Lithuanian church in Delhi with a traditional Lithuanian wooden cross. Google Street View.

Lithuanian Canadians loved church names related to Lithuania. A church named after St. Casimir (Lithuania's patron saint) also stands at Windsor (1043 Greendale Drive). London has an Our Lady of Šiluva church (1414 Dundas Street East).

Wasaga Beach is a small town but has many Lithuanians. ~1952 they were encouraged to buy summerhouses here by a Toronto priest Petras Ažubalis as this location reminded of Palanga (the Lithuania's prime seaside resort, then firmly behind the Iron curtain). Like the Baltic Sea nearby Lake Huron is so big that the other shore is invisble and the world's longest lakeside beach (14 km) reminded of the famous Palanga sandy shore. It was one of the rare times when Lithuanians moved in somewhere in an organized fashion. One summerhouse has converted in 1993 to a Good Shepherd church (2121 Mosley Street), making it so far the last Lithuanian church to be established outside Lithuania-proper. It became needed as an increasing number of Lithuanians permanently left the major cities for their Wasaga Beach summer homes.

In St. Catherines near the famous Niagara Falls Lithuanian Franciscan monks, forced to flee their homeland by the Soviets, established their monastery and the Our Lady of Angels mission. The building has been sold in 2001 as the numbers of Lithuanians were declining, however, Lithuanians are still permitted to use it.

Hamilton city between Toronto and St. Catherines has an Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn church (58 Dundurn Street) established in 1948. It is named after the Virgin Mary painting that hangs on the final remaining gate of the Vilnius city.

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn Lithuanian church in Hamilton witha traditional Lithuanian chapel-post in front of it. Google Street View.

Ontario also has a city named after the capital of Lithuania. However, it is "Wilno" rather than "Vilnius", "Wilno" being the Polish name of the city. This town has been established by Kashubians - a small ethnic group that lives near Gdansk. The nature here reminded them of their homeland - and it reminds of Lithuania as well. The settlers were led by Ludwik Dembski who had been born in Vilnius. Being too modest to name the town after himself he named it after his city of birth instead. Wilno has numerous crosses around it and also hosts the Canada's oldest Polish parish (est. 1875, current church built in 1937).

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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.


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