Approximately 80,000 Hungarian immigrants arrived in Canada between 1885 and 1959. Early immigrants came to Canada to escape poor economic conditions and a lack of land and employment in Hungary. Canada offered work to these individuals in agriculture, factories and the mining and lumber industries. Later immigrants came as a result of displacement following the Second World War and as refugees following the revolt against Communist rule in 1956. Although some of the early immigrants settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the largest population base has developed in Ontario, particularly around Toronto.
The first decade of the 1900s saw the formation of numerous Hungarian mutual benefit insurance associations. These associations provided financial assistance to members affected by the illness, injury, or death of a wage earner in exchange for the payment of a monthly fee. An openly Communist newspaper, the Kanadai Magyar Munkás (Canadian-Hungarian Worker) was published in Hamilton and Toronto by the Canadian Hungarian Sick-Benefit Federation (C.H.S-B.F.) between July 16, 1929 and December 28, 1967. The paper was published weekly in the Hungarian language and edited by István Szőke, a staunch communist supporter.
The Hungarian ethnic press developed in Canada in the 1920s. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Munkás/Worker was one of the two dominant Hungarian newspapers in Canada, the other being the Kanadai Magyar Újság (Canadian Hungarian News), which presented a more conservative view point. During the Second World War, the Munkás/Worker was monitored by the government for reasons of security, and in the 1950s it was a supporter of Stalinist rule in Hungary. The political opinions espoused by the paper influenced its reporting of the 1956 revolution and the arrival of refugees in Canada. Those newly arrived immigrants did not support the views of the existing Hungarian ethnic newspapers, resulting in the creation of new publications in the late 1950s. The Munkás/Worker was replaced by the Új Szó/New Word, published in Toronto between 1968 and 1987.
The entire run of the Kanadai Magyar Munkás, 1929-1967, has been digitized and is made available here.
Contributed by Multicultural History Society of Ontario.