Ukrainian immigrants came to Canada in four large waves.
The First Wave -- The Pioneers: 1891-1914
The pioneers were the earliest Ukrainian settlers who immigrated to the Canadian West to farm its rich soil. They came at a time when Canada wanted what it thought of as "quality immigrants" to move to the Prairies.
Forced to Leave Home
Ukrainians had many reasons to leave their homes and set off for a new land. Some lived in the Russian Empire, where they were deprived of their rights and forced to speak Russian. Young men were forced to serve in the Russian army. Many people resented these harsh policies and wanted to leave.
Other Ukrainians lived in the territories of Galicia and Bukovina. They were poor, their farms were tiny, and landlords charged high rents. They needed a solution to their problems. Dr. Joseph Oleskiw, a Galician professor and promoter of Ukrainian emigration, visited Canada in 1895. He travelled around the country, and decided that it would be a perfect new home for Ukrainians. During the next few years, he arranged for thousands of families to move to Canada, mainly to the West.