According to the Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples, Latvian immigrants to Canada were first recorded as an ethnic group distinct from Russians in 1921; as such, there is no record of how many Latvians arrived prior to this date. Between 1921 and 1945, 409 Latvians arrived; in 1941, the census recorded 975 people of Latvian ethnic origin in Canada. The majority of Latvian immigrants arrived as post-war refugees between 1947 and 1957. Most immigrants settled in or near to Metropolitan Toronto, where the majority of Latvian-Canadian organizations have developed.
There was little presence of a Latvian-language press in Canada until 1914, when the Lettish Friendly Association of Winnipeg was formed and published the newspaper Kanadietis in 1913 and 1914. In 1949 the Latvian Press Society was created after the arrival of several Latvian writers in the late 1940s. Sponsored by 'Daugavas Vanaji' (Latvian Relief Society of Canada), the Latvian language newspaper Latvija Amerika began publication in Toronto on October 6, 1951, and is still published today. The paper resulted from the merger of the West German newspaper Latvija and the Toronto newspaper Brīvā Balss (Free Voice) which was published between 1949 and 1951. It was issued bi-weekly until becoming a weekly publication on December 11, 1971.
Issues of Latvija Amerika dating from October 6, 1951 to December 19/26, 1987 have been digitized and are made available here.
Contributed by Multicultural History Society of Ontario.