Visiting the Ukrainian Festival in Bloor West Village (Bloor Street in the Jane and Runnymede areas), in Toronto for the first time was a true pleasure – lots of great kiosks and craft/clothing/music booths set up, food (perogies, cabbage rolls, meat on a stick and kapusta – i.e. cabbage), and music playing.
As I’m one-eighth Ukrainian, I thought it would be interesting to delve a bit more into the culture. While I was raised as Polish, I did have interaction with my Ukrainian side of the family so it was never too foreign to me. I can even understand when it’s spoken. And so, I felt quite at home visiting this festival.
Celebrating Ukrainian Heritage in Toronto
When Ukrainians celebrate a festival, they celebrate it! Our visit coincided with the parade portion of the planned events. This year’s Parade Marshal was Ken Kostick, leading a long train of people including members of Ukrainian credit unions, kids from their Ukrainian schools, sports programs and scouts. I never knew that there was a Ukrainian marching band!
Many people were also dressed up in Ukrainian embroidered blouses, and other costumes. It was a colourful sight to see.
It was also great to visit the Bloor West Village area – long known as the hub of the Ukrainian community, it is now holding on to it’s ethnic community roots as much as possible. Many of the mom and pop shops owned by Ukrainian immigrants have been replaced by other boutique stores. Yet there are a few remnants from the past (Jolanta Interiors, the Ukrainian credit unions, Arka Shoes to name a few) that I remember from my youth.
What are your favourite Toronto ethnic festivals? Which one do you think throws the best party?