Greek Community

The first Greeks to settle in Quebec were sailors. They came to Quebec, they left their ships, married local wives and integrated into Quebec life.

We know that by the mid-19th century, several men from the Peloponnesus were living in Montreal near the port area. More Greeks followed, some came from the town of Kastoria, known for its fur trade, and they found work in Quebec as furriers. Later a few Greek entrepreneurs discovered Quebec and began selling syrupy Greek pastries like baklava.

It seems that the first Greek company was the Great Eastern Greek Confectionary Company which was established on St-Paul Street in Montreal.

But many people who moved to Quebec were not prepared for life in large cities, as they came from rural areas. They found everything difficult, so they tried to get together, and a Greek community formed in Montreal, around Dorchester Street (now Rene-Levesque Boulevard and St Lawrence Main Street (St.-Laurent Boulevard).

Greek immigrants often worked in Greek-owned restaurants, since it was easier to work for people who understood the language and the culture.

By 1920, with a community of 2,000 people, Greeks operated over 50 restaurants out of 150 owned by immigrants. In comparison, Italians, with a community of 14,000, owned 14 restaurants at that time. After the World War II, Greece erupted in a civil war which lasted until 1949.

The war devastated the country. In the early 1950s, as many as 3,000 Greeks were arriving in Montreal each year. Most of them were unskilled workers who dreamt of making money and returning home.

At that time, the Greek community moved to newer and affordable housing to the north of Montreal, between Jean-Talon and Metropolitan expressway. Later, in the 1970s, the profile of the Greek community began changing, New immigrants were skilled, they understood urban living, many of them spoke French and English.

The community is still evolving, and Greek-Quebeckers born in Canada now outnumber those who immigrated from Greece.

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