These pages examine the history of Canada’s Hungarians from the eyes of historians, students and through the recollections of eye witnesses and active participants. You will find an ever increasing collection of original research, pertaining to the history of the Hungarians in Canada, from the first settlers and pioneers of late 19th century, to the stories of the tens of thousands of intellectuals, professionals, skilled workers, children and parents who arrived in Canada in 1956/57. For more on the history of Hungarians in Canada, please click here.
History is about reflecting on the past and we can do this in a number of ways. Historians like Nandor Dreisziger and Peter Hidas have produced some of the most in-depth research on Hungarians in Canada and have consulted a rich variety of sources. Some of the most important sources are the personal recollections and memoirs of people who lived through these times. The recollections of Paul Varnai, for example, tell the story of someone who survived the Holocaust and the violence of the Hungarian Revolution. In his memoirs, the author explains why and how he fled Hungary in 1956.
Researching Canada’s diplomatic history at the time of the 1956 revolution can enlighten about the Canadian response to the refugee crisis in its international and domestic contexts. Read or download the booklet Canadian Diplomacy and the Hungarian Revolution, a documentary sourcebook complied by Foreign Affairs historian Greg Donaghy.
Exhibits and other forms of public history are also ways to study the past. The Hungarian Exodus Exhibit explored the arrival and integration of Hungarians, by presenting hundreds of pictures and by interviewing a wide range of people who arrived in Canada as refugees. In contrast, the Montreal Hungarian Historical Society took a more local approach, by focusing on the history of the Hungarian community in Montreal and how individual Hungarians have contributed to the city’s development over the past 80 years.
Statistical research also provides a wealth of information about the past, such as on the fate of Hungarian refugees, in the years following the 1956 Revolution. For more recent information on the number of Hungarians by province and to take a look at various charts based on the 2001 Census, click on the map at the top left-hand corner of this page.
We also encourage students to submit their own research and work to a special section of this site dedicated to the writings of university and high school students.
Sopron School of Forestry
New in April 2009: "The Sopron Division of Forestry" by Professor Emeritus Antal Kozak.
The students, staff and family members of the Sopron School of Forestry in Hungary were forced to flee their homeland in 1957 when the anti-Soviet Revolution failed. The Dean of the Sopron School of Forestry Kalman Roller sent letters to several countries explaining the necessity for a new home to allow the current students to complete their degrees. The Faculty of Forestry at UBC offered a place for the students to finish their forestry studies.
Incorporating the Soprons in to the Faculty was a major alteration as the Sopron School had 50% more students and three times the number of instructors than the current UBC Faculty at the time. This move was also difficult for the Sopron students who were forced to learn English and immerse themselves in Western culture as quickly as possible. Despite these difficulties, this mass immigration provided BC with a new perspective on forestry and a major contribution to the industry.