St. Sava Church, Toronto
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Ћирилица

First Serbs in Toronto

One of our first immigrants in Toronto was Sremac Herceg. He arrived in August 1903, while his wife arrived in December 1910. Ilija Joksimovic, from Belgrade, settled in Toronto in 1904. In 1907 Dimitrije Belic arrived in Toronto from Negotin. There is no evidence of Serbs arriving in Toronto between 1907 and 1911. Our immigrants started again to settle in Toronto in 1911. Among the first Serbs that arrived during that year were Todor Pejcic, Mladen Ristic and Vaso Tomic.

A large number of our immigrants that arrived in 1912 were from around Nis. Among them were Bozidar M. Markovic from Rogacice. A few Montenegrins also arrived. Among them were Radojica Bulatovic, who returned back home to participate in the Balkan Wars, and Zarija Janketic, who helped our people to find employment and to accommodate to Canadian life style. His son Milivoj, joined the Canadian army during the First World War and was killed in battle on the French front. Zarija returned to Montenegro after the war.

Zarko Trumis from Sabac and his younger brother, Milos, arrived in America in 1907. Five years later, Zarko and his wife Katarina, maiden name Vrbaskovic, and brother arrived in Canada, and in 1913 they settled in Toronto. This was first Serbian family in Toronto. First Milos, and then in 1917 Zarko Trumis and his wife, joined the Serbian army as volunteers, he as an interpreter with the English mission and she as a nurse. After the war they came back and settled in America.

Between the Balkan and First World Wars there were more then two hundred Serbs in Toronto. The majority of them were bachelors. Most of the immigrants were from villages with limited education. They dug ditches and worked the hardest manual jobs for 25 cents per hour. A smaller number of them advanced, got married, brought their families and established roots in the New World.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that the Serbs congregated in significant numbers, so that in February 1948, a Temporary Board was founded with Bozidar Markovic as chairman, whose goal was to find and purchase property for the building of a church and hall. Property was found at 221 Seaton St. and other locations, but the location finally chosen was the corner of Gerard and River St.