Collection MS COLL 00611A - Ukrainian People’s Home (Toronto) Records

Identity area

Reference code



Ukrainian People’s Home (Toronto) Records


  • 1918-1975 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2 boxes, 8 map case folders (22 photographs, 26 posters)

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

In 1910, Ukrainian men living in Toronto founded the Ruthenian National Benevolent Society, which aimed “to unite in brotherly love all Ruthenians” living in Canada by providing “moral and material help” to members, “education in Ruthenian and English,” and care for “social and spiritual wellbeing.” Membership in the society fluctuated, reaching a low of 25 members in 1915 but then expanding to 195 members in 1917. Some of these new members wanted to engage in cultural activities and founded an Amateurs’ Circle in 1916. Building on the activities of the Benevolent Society and Amateurs’ Club, the Taras Shevchenko Prosvita Reading Room was founded in 1917. This educational and cultural organization regularly performed concerts, dances, and plays, held lectures, and had a library. In 1919 it also opened a school with 86 children and four teachers. However, Prosvita did not have its own building, so the society began a fundraising campaign in 1923 and soon purchased three lots at 711-715 Bathurst St. In 1927, Prosvita sold these lots and purchased the Salvation Army Hall, which had been damaged by fire, at 191 Lippincott St. Following some repairs, the building was officially opened on December 15, 1928 as the Ukrainian People’s Home.

The Ukrainian People’s Home had a choir, theatre and dance ensembles, school, and library. During its peak activity in the 1920s-1950s, weekly performances were held at the home, and ensembles regularly performed at other events too. The mixed choir performed for a wide variety of Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian audiences, often performing up to twice a week at concerts, churches, clubs, and on the radio. The choir was also a regular performer at the Canadian National Exhibition. By the early 1950s, the choir had 402 members and had performed 445 times in Toronto and throughout southern Ontario. Theatre was another major aspect of the society’s activities, with weekly performances of plays by prominent Ukrainian playwrights. In 1925, the first North American school for Ukrainian dance opened at the Ukrainian People’s Home under the direction of Vasyl Avramenko. Like the choir, the dance ensemble performed for a wide range of audiences, and its performances at the Canadian National Exhibition, with 200 dancers on stage, were particularly popular. From 1930-1936, the society held an annual four-day-long book and press exhibition in its concert hall, where up to 2,200 volumes by Ukrainian authors were displayed, along with maps and artwork. Educational events run by the Ukrainian People’s Home included English classes, courses on Ukrainian literature, and talks given by speakers from Ukraine and western Europe.

While the Ruthenian National Benevolent Society had been a men’s organization, women were involved in all aspects of the Ukrainian People’s Home. Ukrainian women held an embroidery exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition from 1921-1951, and in 1927 a women’s group was formed at the Home to organize similar art and embroidery exhibits, as well as parties, teas, and other social events. Children also participated in the Ukrainian People’s Home, where they could attend Ukrainian school, receive music lessons, play in the children’s orchestra, and join the youth group.

Although focused on culture and education, the Ukrainian People’s Home was occasionally involved in political activities. When Queen Maria of Romania was detained in Toronto for a few hours while on a trip to the United States in 1926, members of the society gave her a communique protesting the oppression of Ukrainians by Romanians in Bukovina. Another political protest occurred in January 1934, when Jewish organizations invited Sholom Schwarzbard, who had killed the leader-in-exile of the Ukrainian People’s Republic Symon Petliura in 1924, to speak in Toronto. The society said that it would use whatever means necessary, including force, to prevent his public speaking. Schwarzbard did travel to Toronto but did not give any public talks. The society sought to protect the interests of Ukrainians, but it was not a partisan or religious organization, and it allowed members to join any Canadian political party and encouraged religious tolerance.

As the Ukrainian-Canadian community became more prosperous in the second half of the 20th century and Ukrainians moved to other regions of Toronto, the activities of the Ukrainian People’s Home decreased. Nonetheless, 191 Lippincott St. continued to house a Ukrainian library, student organizations, and dance and music groups through the early 1980s.

The Ukrainian Canadian Advocates’ Society, located at 191 Lippincott St., was incorporated in 1986 and dissolved in 2015.

Gregorovich, Andrew. “The Ukrainian Community in Toronto from World War One to 1971.”
Hutzuliak, Vera. “The Ukrainian People’s Home: Toronto’s Landmark on Lippincott Street.” Student 15, no. 79 (January 1983), 7.
Marunchak, M. H. The Ukrainian Canadians: A History. Winnipeg and Ottawa: Ukrainian Free Academy of Science, 1970.
Nykoliak, Dmytro A. Korotkyi istorychnyi narys ukrainsʹkoho narodnoho domu v Toronto: z nahody 35-litnoï pratsi tovarystva. Toronto: Nakl. Ukrainsʹkoho Narodnoho domu, 1953.

Archival history

Documents were created and/or collected by the Ukrainian People’s Home. When the People’s Home ceased its activities, Natalka Husar, a local artist with a studio in the building, salvaged material that was being discarded. This material offered her creative ideas and inspiration for her paintings and other artwork.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Natalka Husar, 2022.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains series: Photographs; posters; documents

The documents include photographs documenting the primary activities of the Ukrainian People’s Home, particularly its choir and executive. The posters promoted the various concerts and theatrical performances organized by the community. The miscellaneous documents relate to the Home and to the Prosvita (Enlightenment) and Ridna Shkola societies in Lviv, Ukraine.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form:

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • Ukrainian

Script of material

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

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Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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