Histoire de l’immigration

The 1956 revolution was a very important milestone in the relationship between Canada and Hungary. There are currently 350,000 people living in Canada who claim to be of Hungarian descent. Most Hungarian immigrants arrived after the Second World War, the number of those who arrived after the 1956 revolution hovered around 100,000. In 1956-57, Canada acted very quickly and decided to accept all Hungarian refugees and to help Hungarians settle in the country by involving civil organizations.

October 26th, 1956

Photo of a newspaper article about the Hungarian revolution.
The Prime Minister’s office of Louis St. Laurent receives 32 telegrams begging for action on behalf of a free Hungary.

October 28th, 1956

Photo of two tanks in Hungary, 1956.
Five days after the Hungarian revolution began, the Security Council began debating a protest against Soviet armed intervention in Hungary filed by several Western countries, including Canada.

October 30th, 1956

Canadian Hungarian Relief Fund was established to administer the collection of money and to create a blood bank.

October 30th, 1956

The Legion for Freedom was formed in response to hundreds of telegrams, phone calls and letters received by relief organizers requesting the formation of an international brigade to aid Hungary.

October 30th, 1956

Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent wrote this letter to N.A. Bulganin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, expressing the outrage of the Canadian people over events in Hungary.

By November 7th, 1956

Three days after the return of the Soviet forces to Hungary, more than 11,000 Hungarians had successfully sought sanctuary in Austria.

November 14th, 1956

“Hungarian Red Leader in Toronto Hides Out to Escape Vengeance.” Stephen Szoke, managing editor of the Hungarian language weekly Munkas has gone into hiding. — Toronto Daily Star

November 16th, 1956:

First Hungarian refugees reach Canada.
First Hungarian refugees reach Canada.

November 23rd, 1956

The largest movement of refugees into Austria took place on this single day, 8,537 Hungarians entered Austria.

November 27th, 1956

“Arrangements have been made to establish two reception centres in Toronto for all Hungarian refugees… they include medical and nursing facilities.”

By the end of November 1956

The number of refugees who left Hungary had surpassed 100,000.

November 1956

There was a shortage of young workers in every region of Canada, reflecting the low birth rate of the 1930’s and the unprecedented expansion of the economy. — The Globe and Mail, December 10, 1956

December 4th, 1956

“Pickersgill Cuts Red Tape: Refugee Applications processed one-a-minute” — The Toronto Telegram

December 4th, 1956

Resources at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Toronto are “being taxed nearly to the breaking point… Rev. Simor estimates 50 people have taken work off or taken vacation time to help with resettlement of refugees.” — The Toronto Telegram

December 21st, 1956

“$100,000 Pledge Given Refugees by Universities” Canadian universities have pledged $100,000 to aid refugee university students. — The Globe and Mail

December 31st, 1956

New Year’s Eve message broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: L.B. Pearson admitted: “One thing in the record of 1956 is clear. When the free governments failed to work together we lost ground in our search for peace and stability and progress.”

February 1st, 1957

The Hungarian Refugee Students Centre of the National Conference of Canadian Universities began to operate in Montreal. Eventually, 658 students registered with the centre.

By June, 1957

Approximately 7,000 Hungarian refugees were received at the Toronto reception centres...most found jobs in Toronto.
In the history of the country, this was the first such large wave of refugees that took place in an extremely short time. During this time, Canada developed and set up a model that has been an important basis for the country's immigration policy ever since.