On Tuesday, June 21, York University professors Thomas Gallant and Michael Vitopoulos, and independent scholar George Treheles, presented a copy of their new book, The 1918 Anti-Greek Riot in Toronto, to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Above: From left, George Treheles, Prime Minister Paul Martin, Thomas Gallant,
After receiving the book, Martin thanked the authors for their work in bringing attention to this important episode in Canadian and Greek history. At a separate meeting, the authors presented a copy to Peter Milliken, speaker of the House of Commons. During the afternoon session of the House of Commons, MP Jim Karygiannis, representative for Scarborough-Agincourt, asked the House to acknowledge receipt of a copy of the book for the Library of Parliament and “to thank these gentlemen for writing and publishing this book so that this tragic event in our history is not forgotten.
“Although the riot took place in 1918, it brings into sharp focus the need for all Canadians to respect and accept the cultural diversity which makes Canada such a vibrant place to live and bring up our children, said Karygiannis. “We must remember our history so we do not repeat our mistakes.”
The 1918 anti-Greek riot is one of the darkest and most violent episodes in Toronto’s history and in the history of Greeks in North America, yet its story has never been told until now. Gallant, who is Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair of Modern Greek History in the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Vitopoulos, professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, and Treheles used a variety of archival sources to reconstruc the narrative of the riots in the book. They explained why the Greeks of Toronto became the focal point of this unprecedented episode of civil unrest. They also situated the anti-Greek violence in the context of Greek immigration to North America, the emergence of nativist, anti-immigrant sentiments in Canada and the US, and the politics of the First World War in Greece and North America.