The Ukrainian National Federation of Canada was founded on Sunday, July 17, 1932 at a historic meeting in Edmonton, Alberta. In the first four years, 50 Branches were established across Canada. The organization consists of 4 wings all of which are governed by the Constitution of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada.
The 4 wings include one parent organization, Ukrainian National Federation of Canada and three Affiliate Organizations, The Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada, The Ukrainian National Youth Federation of Canada and the Ukrainian War Veterans Organization of Canada.
The UNF, including its affiliates, was incorporated by an Act of Parliament on June 1, 1950.
Individual branches of the Ukrainian National Federation have been established in cities across Canada.
The Toronto Branch was established on May 9th 1933. The branch was formed at a time when Ukrainians in Canada were concentrating on uniting in to several national organizations. Between 1932 and 1950 the organization mushroomed in to one of, if not the largest Ukrainian-Canadian Organizations in what would become the Greater Toronto Area. During this time the UNF worked to increase Ukrainian cultural activities among its members and their children, establishing in the first few years a Saturday School, Ukrainian secondary school courses, sports clubs, dance and music groups and theatre clubs. The branch also played an active role in Canada’s war effort, and the branch became a centre for Education of young Ukrainian Canadians ready and willing to support Canada in our fight for freedom and democracy in Europe. In particular the Toronto Branch was home to a school of Radio Telegraph Operations, and was instrumental in training young men of Ukrainian background in this very important skill. During World War II most of the membership of the Ukrainian National Federation and Ukrainian National Youth Federation were enlisted in either active or reserve units and played a very vital role in Canada’s war effort. Those who were unable to take part in these efforts remained behind and took part in numerous UNF initiatives to support local and federal programs such as the Red Cross, National Defense and Support for Veterans and their families.
In 1944 the UNF Toronto Branch founded the Ukrainian(Toronto) Credit Union, to assist members of the organization in purchasing property and starting business upon their return from the war. Today the Ukrainian Credit Union Ltd. (www.ukrainiancu.com) is the largest Ukrainian co-operative credit union in all of Canada and is among the largest credit unions in Ontario.
Between 1950 and the late 1970’s the organization was the driving force behind cultural, social and educational programming for Ukrainian-Canadians in Toronto and it had under its patronage the Kalyna Song and Dance Ensemble (Later renamed the Kalyna Performing Arts Company), Camp Sokil, eastern Canada’s largest Ukrainian Sports, Recreation and Children’s Camp facility, The UNF Library which was among the largest collections of Ukrainian Books and Reference Materials in all of Canada, as well as an active community hall, a children’s Saturday school program and numerous social and education programs for Ukrainians in the GTA. The organization founded the Canadian Ukrainian Opera Society in 1975 and during the 70’s and 80’s the organization was host to one of the most popular Cultural pavilions of the Metro Toronto Caravan festival.
During this time the organization was also actively involved in dispelling rumours and exposing the brutal truths of the Soviet regime, and Communisms blatant failure across Europe. These activities often exposed the organization, its members and executive committees to threats, physical assaults and constant divisive propaganda designed to undermine the organization’s efforts and activities.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s with the onset of a new wave of immigration, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of a free and independent Ukraine the objectives of the branch shifted somewhat and the cultural/educational activity of the branch slowed. During this time it was determined that to meet the needs of the changing demographic of Ukrainians in the GTA not only a new focus, but a new home would be required for the branch to continue to flourish and offer the community the programs that it needed to develop. In 2002 a new home was purchased for the organization at 145 Evans Eve in Toronto. This location more accurately reflected the resettlement of Ukrainians in the West End of Toronto, and gave the organization the opportunity to provide a fresh, vibrant and active community hall to our members.
Today the organization is again actively pursuing the involvement and education of the community. A cultural renaissance is taking place in which the branch is spearheading a new vision of Ukrainian-Canadian life in the city of Toronto that focuses on melding our rich history and culture with life in our new found home in Canada.
Together with the Ukrainian Women’s Organization – Toronto Branch, the UNF Toronto Branch runs a successful Banquet Hall Business, Trident Banquet Hall which along with rental income provides the funding required run programming and activity for the community. The Cultural & Educational Programming is again expanding and the organization continues to run Camp Sokil, the Kalyna Performing Arts Company, UNF Resource Center and now also under its patronage, the branch includes the UNF Shotokan Karate School and the UNF Sports Club Karpaty. Information on all branch programs is found under the Our Organization link above. The branch’s facility is also home to the Ukrainian Credit Union Ltd. head office, The head offices of the Ukrainian World Congress, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto, New Pathway Publishers, Ukrainian National Federation Board of Directors, Ukrainian Woman’s Organization National Executive, Ukrainian Canadian Schoolboard and the Ukrainian Canadian Council of Credit Unions.
Our vision is to offer Ukrainian-Canadians of various generational backgrounds a place to feel united and to be able to more effectively integrate into the Canadian multicultural landscape. Our focus today is both on our current membership’s needs and on the needs of our youth, they are our future!
UNF Toronto Branch Halls
A view of all of the Toronto Branch’s locations as they appear today…
72 Denison Ave.
332 Queen St. West
300 Bathurst St.
783 College St.
297 College St.
145 Evans Ave.