Greek-Canadian Culturescape

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The purpose of this chapter is to trace the development of Greek immigration to the United States and Canada. The geographical distribution of the Greek population in the United States, Florida and the tri-county area is discussed and the historical evolution their respective ethnic communities is examined. Focus is given to the demographics, diversity and geography of the study area. Finally, a brief overview of the different immigration policies of the United States and Canada will be evaluated.

Greek Immigration Patterns

The first documented Greek person to arrive in North America was Don Teodoro, who in 1528 was a member of the Spanish “Narvaez” expedition which explored the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of Florida (Moskos 1980). While other Greeks followed, it was not until 1768 that the first sizable Greek presence was established in Florida. Andrew Turnbull, a British physician, brought with him four to five hundred Greeks and set up the colony of New Smyrna on the Northeast coast of Florida, approximately 350 miles north of Miami (Panagopoulos 1966). Turnbull’s dream of establishing a new world plantation came to naught. He had very little knowledge of primitive eighteenth century Florida, and his subsequent lack of planning, coupled with natural disasters and illnesses, resulted in the destruction of the colony (Panagopoulos 1966).
In subsequent years emigration from Greece was sporadic at best. The largest number of Greeks who immigrated to North America came between 1890 and 1924. This is known as the great wave, and more than 520,000 Greeks came to the United States (Saloutos 1964). The Johnson Reed Act of 1924 brought a halt to Greek immigration with 105,000 Greeks until 1965.
After 1965 the number of Greeks who were permitted to immigrate in the United States began to increase. The reason for the increase was the 1965 Immigration Act which ended the national immigration quota system and gave preference to Greeks who had family members in this country and they wished to be reunited. According to immigration statistics between 1965 and 1975 alone, more than 142,000 Greeks came to the United States. Regardless of this increase, however, Greek immigration to the United States never reached the highs of the first two decades of the twentieth century.
One of the most widely used publications on United States immigration statistics, is The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. According to the 2004 Yearbook the total number of Greeks who immigrated to the United States between 1990 and 2004 is 35,110.
The geographical Distribution of the Greek population in the United States shows that the majority of the Greeks, 42 percent, of the estimated 1.153,307 million Greeks living in the United States reside in the following states: New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Florida. Table 3.2 represents a breakdown by states of the largest Greek communities in the United States.
Figure 3.2 illustrates the unequal geographic distribution of the Greek population in the United States. Based on the 2000 Census figures most of the Greeks concentrate in the East Coast with the exception of California. Upon closer examination of the census figures Greeks prefer to reside in large metropolitan areas as figure 3.3 illustrates.

Greek-Canadian Community in South Florida

The Greek-Canadian community under study is located in the southeast corner of the state of Florida in the United States (Figure 3.4).
The population growth of the region in the past three decades is described as “phenomenal” (Shultz 1991). (See table 3.3). Southe ast Florida’s population began to grow with the coming of the railroad late in the nineteenth century, the drainage of the swamp land, and the frenetic land speculation of the 1920s. By 1930, the area had more than 230,000 residents (Shultz 1991).
The population growth through the end of the 1950s was mainly the result of incoming migrants from the northern states of the United States. International migration began to play an increasingly prominent role since the 1960s when hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees migrated to South Florida. These Cubans were joined in the 1970s and 1980s by large numbers of other immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean (Tebeau 1980). The region’s population became increasingly diversified, with significant growth of minority and ethnic groups moving to the area.
According to the 2000 United States Census, the foreign-born population accounts for 35 percent of the area’s population with 13 percent of those immigrants entering the United States between 1990 and March 2000. This data shows that the majority, 85 percent, of the foreign-born population came from Central, Latin America, and the Caribbean (Census 2000). These growth trends reflect the multi-ethnic character of the tri-county region. As a diverse population has settled in the region, they have brought with them their culture and customs, creating an area with rich ethnic and cultural diversity.
Based on the same census figures, Florida has the fifth largest population of self identifying Greeks. Southeast Florida has the second largest concentration of Greeks in the state. There are a little more than 21,000 Greeks in the tri-county area, and about one third of them came from Canada.
Thirty six Greek Orthodox Churches serve as the anchors of the Greek communities around the state. The first sizable number of Greeks who moved to Florida was in the 1960s. The census reported 11,637 Greeks residing in the state and 2,454 of them were residing in southeast Florida (Census 1970). Starting in the mid-1970s, Florida experienced a sharp growth of its Greek population. The United States Census figures from 41,022 in 1970 to 76,908 in 2000.
Based on the same figures, the Greek population of the tri-county area increased from 3,800 in 1970, to 21,491 in 2000. This dramatic increase is partly due to the influx of Greek-Canadians especially from Montreal. The majority of the Greek-Canadians came to Florida because of the political and economic turmoil in Canada (Rozakis 2003; Manessi 2003). They were attracted to Florida because of a friendlier and milder climate as well as better economic opportunities. Many of the Greek-Canadians originally came as visitors, but a very large number of them stayed and made Florida their permanent home (Karachalios 2003).
Today in Southeast Florida, it is safe to say that there are two Greek communities. The first one was formed in the 1960s by Greeks who immigrated to the United States prior to the 1920s. In the 1960s they began to move to South Florida. The second one was created in the 1980s by the Greeks who originally immigrated to Canada between the 1950s and 1960s and after gaining Canadian permanent status immigrated to South Florida.
There are many differences between the two ethnic communities and many similarities, but the one institution that seems to be the glue that keeps both communities together is the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greeks from Canada are dispersed residentially, but the y have created a strong ethnic community. The methods they have employed in order to maintain their ethnic cohesiveness has been their affiliation with the Greek Orthodox Church and the joining of ethnic organizations. Among the younger Greek-Canadians, who are proficient with modern computer technologies, they have used the internet to further their attachments with other Greeks from Canada and other communities within the United States while continuing their attachments with their original community in Canada (Karachalios 2003). The main goal of the Greek-Canadians and their children in South Florida is to maintain their cultural ties, preserve their Greek language, and continue their affiliations with their ethnic organizations and the Greek Orthodox Church in order to promote the survival of their ethnic community.

Greek-Canadian Community in Montreal

Greek immigration to Canada can be divided into three stages. The first stage was the period of preferred countries such as Great Britain and the other northern European nations, as sources for immigration. Southern European immigrants were not among that category. Nevertheless, during this stage, Greek immigration to Canada was predominantly male and unskilled, ready source for cheap labor (Chimbos 1980). By the end of this first stage in 1944 there were 11,692 Greek immigrants in Canada (Heritage Languages 1989).
The second stage was after World War II. Along with the increasing liberalization of immigration regulations because of Canadian econo mic demands and humanitarian concerns for the displaced persons of World War II, Canada allowed more relatives and friends to be admitted in the country. Consequently, Greece become one of the most important sources of Canadian immigration (Tassioglou 1997). The steady increase in Greek immigration did not start, however, before the late 1950’s and reached its peak in 1967. Greek immigration remained high in the late 1960s and 1970s, declining only gradually as a result of improvement of the Greek economy and changes in the Canadian immigration policies. From 1946 to 1981 about 116,300 Greek immigrants immigrated to Canada (Gavaki 1997).
According to Statistics Canada (2001), approximately 215,105 people of Greek descent are Canadian permanent residents. Sixty six percent of the Greek concentrate in Montreal 55,865 and Toronto 85,375. Within these cities, Greek communities formed following the classical pattern of ethnic enclave formation. Originally, Greeks concentrated in older parts of the city where affordable housing could be found. Often, several families would live together in one house, sharing expenses until they became established and could afford their own homes (Chimbos 1980). Today, those early enclaves are slowly transplanted to other parts of the city especially the suburbs (Germain and Rose 2000).
In Montreal, most of the Greek immigrants originally settled in the area of Park Extension. By 1975, two thirds of the population was Greek. One of the elementary schools students were almost exclusively Greek-speaking students. Today, Park Extension is being transformed again and is the home of newly arrived immigrants such as Haitians, Latin Americans or Sri Lankans (Germain and Rose 2000). Most of the Greeks have moved to Chomedey in Laval, Ahuntsic and Saint-Laurent (Statistics Canada 2001).
Canada, with the aid of its government-sponsored multicultural policies, has fostered the creation of separate ethnic communities. When the Greeks immigrated to Montreal, they found themselves in a divided society between the French and Anglo-Saxon cultures. The policies of the Canadian government encouraged the retention of their language, culture, and religion, by freque ntly providing funding for ethnic institutions (Germain and Rose 2000). Consequently, Greek-Canadians created contiguous ethnic communities with very strong ties to Greece. The hostile attitude of the francophones towards the non-French speaking Greeks created similar conditions for the Greek-Canadians in Montreal (Manessi 2003).
This chapter provided a historical background of the different time periods of Greek immigration to the United States and Canada. Additionally, the geographical distribution of the Greek population in the United States, Florida in specific, was mapped and discussed. An examination of the Greek-Canadian ethnic communities in South Florida showed that Greek-Canadians moving to South Florida were exposed to a new set of ethnic realities. Even though there are many Greeks in Florida, with the exception of Tarpon Springs, there is not a contiguous ethnic community anywhere in the state. What serves as the ethnic marker of Greeks in Florida has always been the Orthodox Church. Greek-Canadians responded to this lack of geographic propinquity by building social, economic, and cultural institutions in South Florida without severing their ties with Canada and Greece. Thus, Greek-Canadians created a transnational ethnic community with multiple ties and interactions across borders spanning several global culturescapes. The next chapter will outline the objectives of this research and lay out the pertinent theories that relate to the research objectives.




This chapter defines the four main research objectives of this study and provides the theoretical framework adopted to address that goal. Research questions were formulated towards the aim of guiding this study and setting parameters for its direction. The major purpose of this chapter is to develop a theoretical framework for understanding the cultural survival strategies Greek-Canadians employ in order to preserve their ethnic cultural landscape.

Research Objectives

This focus of this research is to investigate how immigrants in this increasingly transnational world organize their lives in order to preserve their ethnic culture by looking at the Greek-Canadians who reside in South Florida. This research has the following objectives:
To examine the factors which have influenced the migration of the Greek-Canadians to South Florida
To highlight the distinct cultural survival mechanisms used by the Greek-Canadians in South Florida
To examine the role transnational social networks play in the socio spatial behavior of the Greek-Canadians in South Florida.
To indicate what social scientists can learn from this study.
There are several theoretical perspectives that can explain the first research objective. Massey and his colleagues (1996) agree that there is not one definitive theory that can account for the various causes of migration movements. However, the factors that have influenced the Greek-Canadians to migrate to South Florida can be explained based on the theories that were discussed in the preceding chapter. From the individual level or the micro level of analysis, Lee’s (1966) approach of the pull and push factors explain some of the factors. According to this theory Greek-Canadians, considered their option by comparing the differences between the Canada and South Florida. The theory states that if the destination area is perceived as more attractive then immigrants might undertake the move. Many of the Greek-Canadians viewed South Florida as offering many more opportunities and it became apparent that a move south was beneficial to them. Researchers agree that economic factors are very important causes of migration, and in the case of Greek-Canadians this assumption does hold true. Both the Canadian and United States economies are similar and offer comparable opportunities to their citizens. In the case of Greek-Canadians, economic stagnation especially in Montreal, because of the political climate did account many to leave Canada. Non-economic factors such as a better climate and more desirable lifestyle in South Florida however, offer a better explanation as to why Greek-Canadians chose to leave Montreal. Wolpert’s (1965) notion of “place-utility” and the individual’s degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with both the origin and destination areas is a theoretical perspective that seems to offer a better explanation for this particular case study. Greek-Canadians determined the ‘place utility’ of Montreal and South Florida and they decided tha t South Florida scored higher in the satisfaction scale than Montreal. Therefore, the better environmental conditions such as the good climate of the area and the perception of better lifestyle encouraged their move.

Migration Factors from Different Scale Perspectives

When migration decisions are viewed from the macro- level analysis, the economic uncertainty in Montreal because of the political changes the Quebecois party originated pushed some of the Greeks out of the area. More importantly was the United States’ favorable immigration laws towards Canadian citizens at the time. National immigration policies again influenced the Greek-Canadians choices. Based on discussions with many Greek-Canadians they migrated to Canada because of Canada’s more liberal immigration policies. In contrast, immigration from Greece to the United States continues to be more restrictive and lengthy. The change in their status from Greek citizens to Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents allowed them to migrate again.
Theories at the meso- level of analysis offer a better explanation of the factors that influenced Greek-Canadians to move to South Florida. Meso- level theories, such as social networks, locate the migration decisions within a complex system of networks between the immigrant’s origination and destination countries. The two most relevant theories for this case study are the “social capital theory” and the “theory of cumulative causation” (Massey et al. 1998). The core of the social capital theory rests in the importance of the social networks in both the sending and receiving countries. In the case of the Greek-Canadians social networks are the ties that link Greeks in Montreal and South Florida. Almost all the Greek-Canadians had friends or relatives in South Florida. These connections helped them to reduce the social, economic and emotional costs of their move to the new area. Social ties not only offer material assistance but emotional support as well. Massey (1990) notes that people that have relatives or friend in the destination area are more prone to migrate and this appears to be the case with the Greek-Canadians.
Faist (1990 51) explains that migration networks “rely on people from the same origin and brokers for information, informal aid, and various other resources”. In the case of the Greek-Canadians, these migration networks began in the early 1970’s when the first Greek-Canadians moved to South Florida and they became the ‘brokers’ connecting South Florida with Montreal. By the mid 1980’s, migration from Montreal to South Florida was still strong and continues without taking into consideration the short-term changes in the economic and social environment of South Florida. Greek-Canadians were able to draw upon the social capital which was embedded within their social networks and were better able to withstand adverse economic conditions.
The theory of cumulative causation posits that over time immigration becomes a self sustaining activity. Networks expand and a ‘culture of migration’ develops (Massey 1989). In the case of the Greek-Canadians they expanded their social environment across the border of the United States and Canada and took advantage of the geographical differences and the once who deemed moving to South Florida beneficial they moved. As Massey (1990) argues the factors that generate migration can be understood as the “dynamics or relations between two places” (Massey 1990). When there are strong social connections between the two areas the immigration decision is easier to make and the actual migration takes place with less stress. Greek-Canadians decided to move to South Florida because they had strong connections with family and friends in the area already.

1.1 Migration to North America
1.2 Research Problem and Research Questions
1.3 Group Under Study and the Study Area
1.4 Greek-Canadian Culturescape
1.5 Research Objectives
1.6 Research Design and Methodology
1.7 Chapter Framework
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Migration Theories and their Applications
2.3. Scales of Analysis
2.4 Immigrant Settlement Theories
2.5 Structuration Theory and Community Formation
2.6 Transnationalism
2.7 Theoretical Gaps
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Greek Immigration Patterns
3.3 Greek-Canadian Community in South Florida
3.4 Greek-CanadianCommunity in Montreal
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research Objectives
4.3 Migration Factors from Different Scale Perspectives
4.4 Cultural Survival Strategies
4.5 Role of Transnational Networks
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Critical Realism Methodology
5.3 Triangulation
5.4 Data Collection and Procedures
5.5 The Questionnaire
5.6 Methods of Data Analysis
5.7 Ethical Considerations
5.8 Limitations of the Study
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Demographics
6.3 Generational Profile
6.4 Reasons for Moving to South Florida
6.5 Reasons for Leaving Canada
6.6 Social Connections in South Florida
6.7 Self- identification
6.8 Community Participation
6.9 Nearest Neighbor Analysis (NNA)
6.10 Church Participation
6.11 Greek Festivals and Dinner Dances
6.12 Church Organization
6.13 Adherence to Ethnic Holidays
6.14 Greek Language Retention
6.15 Ethnic Organizations
6.16 Transnational Activities
6.17 Cultural Attitudes
6.18 Similarities and Differences Between the Greek-Canadians and Greek-Americans
6.19 Creation of the Greek-Canadians Culturescape
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Findings
7.3 Conclusions and Recommendations

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