The Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives at York University (HHF GCA) is celebrating a series of significant milestones as part of its ongoing mission to preserve and promote the rich history of Greek Canada.
Thanks to the commitment of donors, partners and the community, the HHF GCA physical collection has seen significant growth over the past year. Hundreds of donated Greek books have been catalogued into the Hellenic Heritage and Michael Vitopoulos Collections within Omni, York Libraries’ search tool. Louise Curtis and Katrina Cohen-Palacios have also worked together to complete the arrangement and description of the George Papadatos fonds, begun by Anna St.Onge, which offers critical insight into the history of Toronto’s Greek community from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. In addition, The HHF GCA’s new archivist, Maria Paraschos, has 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 the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections ensures that the memories and artifacts remain safeguarded for future generations.
In response to the increasing need for accessibility, the HHF GCA has also amplified its digitization efforts, digitizing dozens of recordings by 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 20th-century Greek voices. They cover a range of topics, from poetry to prose and theatre. The archives team 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. In the coming year, the team will begin digitizing footage from over 1,000 U-matic video cassettes 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 the HHF GCA’s rich historical resources available to a global audience of students and researchers.
Another notable change is the new HHF GCA digital portal, which 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, the archives team will add to the repository of interviews, complementing them with digitized records, photographs, newspapers and recordings, and making it easier than ever to research Greek Canadian history.
With the help of the Hellenic Heritage Foundation, York University and many donors, the HHF GCA is rewriting the narrative of Greek-Canadian history by telling more nuanced stories of the community’s past and highlighting the many triumphs, blemishes and contradictions within it.
To watch the HHF GCA’s Fall 2023 update video, visit youtube.com/watch?v=ABw9ifkaNtE.
For more information about the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives at York University, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or X. To donate materials or explore the archive first-hand, contact Vasilis (Bill) Molos, director and research lead at the HHF GCA, at email@example.com.