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How Timmins came to celebrate its multiculturalism

In this edition of Remember This, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre looks back at the development of the National Festival during the Second World War
A combined group of Yugoslavian and Ukrainian dancers, singers, and musicians pose in their national costumes before a cultural festival in Timmins in 1946. Timmins Museum photo

From the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre:

The Porcupine gold camp has always been quite multicultural. By the First World War, the region had attracted labourers from other Canadian provinces, the United States, the United Kingdom, and various countries in Northern, Central, and Southern Europe. Children did not find it unusual to hear a number of different languages on a daily basis.

In July 1939, the Roumanian Young People’s Society put together a plan for a festival which would bring focus to each of the national organizations in town. Three days of programming highlighted the music, dances, costumes and art of each of the distinct nationalities in attendance at the McIntyre Arena. By the second year, the festival featured ten different groups including the Canadian Ukrainian Prosvita Association, Croatian National Association, Czecho-Slovak National Alliance, Finnish Aid Society, Order of Italo-Canadian, Polish White Eagle Society, Young Roumanian Club, Porcupine Pipe Band, and McIntyre Concert Band.

It is interesting that such a festival came about just as the Second World War was getting underway. The publicity for the festival, including the printed programme, was very specific in calling all of the groups “loyal New Canadians” and that the goal of the festival was to “bind in comradeship” all the participating organizations. Evidently there was something about the attitude surrounding the Second World War that inspired the citizens of the Porcupine to come together and celebrate that which makes them unique but also to fiercely promote their patriotism toward Canada.

Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Timmins Museum has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here.