The rich history of the Greeks in Canada is being cataloged and digitized at York University by the Hellenic Heritage Foundation (HHF).
Hundreds of donated Greek books have been cataloged into the Hellenic Heritage and Michael Vitopoulos Collections within Omni, York libraries’ search tool.
HHF GCA’s new archivist, Maria Paraschos, has completed the arrangement and description of the George Papadatos fonds. This collection offers critical insight into the history of Toronto’s Greek community from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.
The organization, thanks to the commitment of donors, partners, and the Greek Canadian community have begun processing a donation from John Sotos, which features materials describing the activities of several Greek Canadian and Canadian ethnocultural organizations active from the 1980s to the present.
The accessioning of these materials by its partners in the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections ensures that these memories and artifacts remain safeguarded for future generations.
In response to the increasing need for accessibility, the HHF GCA has amplified its digitization efforts. It has digitized dozens of recordings by Dr. George Thaniel, the chair of the University of Toronto’s Modern Greek Program from 1971 to 1991.
These cassettes contain discussions, lectures, and performances from prominent twentieth-century Greek voices. They cover a range of topics from poetry to prose and theatre.
New digital portal on the history of Greeks in Canada
It is also digitizing a significant photo collection created by Dimitrios Mantalas at his Danforth Avenue photo studio and a loan of photographs and textual records from former Member of Parliament John Cannis, documenting his early life and political career.
HHF GCA says that in the coming year, it will begin digitizing footage from over 1000 u-matic videocassettes filmed by Basil Avramis documenting decades of community events in Toronto and a collection of mini DV tapes and DVDs of community events and interviews donated by Trifon Haitas. These initiatives will make more of our rich historical resources available to a global audience of students and researchers.
The organization has also unveiled the HHF GCA digital portal. This platform provides access to a treasure trove of oral history interviews from three research projects: “Greeks in Canada: A Digital Public History,” “Childhood Narratives of Greek Canadians from the 1940s,” and “Film as Mediator: Cultivating a Cypriot Canadian Community Audiovisual Media Archive.”
In the coming years, it will add to its repository of interviews, complementing them with digitized records, photographs, newspapers, and recordings, making it easier than ever to research Greek Canadian history.
Through these projects, the HHF GCA says that “we are rewriting the narrative of Greek Canadian history. We are telling more nuanced stories of our shared past, highlighting our triumphs, blemishes, and contradictions.”