POLES began coming to BC in the 1890s with the arrival in VANCOUVER of the first known immigrants, the brothers Swiecicki—Adam, Anthony, Joseph and Paul. The Swiecickis and most other Polish immigrants at the time migrated to the West Coast from eastern Canada. The Polish population grew slowly until by the 1920s there were more than 1,000. Most of them lived in the Vancouver area, where they formed the Polish Friendship Society in 1926. Immigration rates remained modest until the end of WWII, when Canada began allowing displaced Europeans into the country. A small group of Poles came to the Lower Mainland at this time to work as farm labourers, settling in the FRASER VALLEY. While immigration from Poland was limited during the early years of the Cold War, Canada admitted large numbers of Poles during the 1980s and 1990s. Every Sept the Polish community in Vancouver comes together for a harvest celebration called Dozynki. The 2001 census recorded 107,345 people claiming Polish origin in BC.
by Dianne Mackay