Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta. It lies upon the North Saskatchewan River and has 1,034,945 residents within its CMA, as of the 2006 Census. It is also home to the second-largest concentration of Poles outside of Toronto, with 67,520 residents of Polish origin living in the Edmonton CMA.
The first Polish settlers arrived in the Edmonton region around 1895. Many had been granted land within a 100km radius of the city for farming. Some, naturally, were drawn to city and the jobs available there. The Polish population in Edmonton remained small before the First World War, but grew considerably after the war ended. Many Polish men found work in Edmonton’s meat-packing plants in the 1920s. By 1927, there were about 61,000 residents in Edmonton, including several thousand Poles. Building upon this strong base, the first Polish organization in Edmonton was established on November 11, 1927, formally titled “The Association of Poles in Canada.” It would later be renamed the “Polish Canadian Society.” This would mark the beginning of a long tradition of Polish organization in the City of Edmonton.
The first Polish Hall was built in Edmonton in 1932 as a result of great effort, co-operation and financial contribution from the Polish community. It quickly became a source of pride and a centre for social and cultural activity. The Polish Hall hosted meetings, national holiday celebrations and dances to which everybody was welcome. It also housed an amateur theatre group that would travel to nearby Polish settlements and provide farmers with rare evenings of entertainment – a true blessing during the Great Depression. Other developments during the 1930s included the establishment of the short-lived “Adam Mickiewicz” week-end school and the formation of the Polish Veterans’ Society in 1938.
Polish organizations were very active during the Second World War, donating funds, clothi