THE HISTORY OF THE HELLENIC COMMUNITY OF OTTAWA

1929 – 2000s

Pre 1920s

In 1592, Ioannis Phokas (Juan de Fuca in Spanish) -who was born in 1536 on the Ionian Island of Kefalonia- as a member of the Spanish Fleet, became the first Greek to set foot on Canadian soil, in what is today British Columbia. The Strait between Vancouver Island (British Columbia) and the Olympic Peninsula (Washington State) bear his name: Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The first Greek settlers arrived in Canada (Montreal) in 1843.

In 1871, only 39 persons of a Greek ethnic origin lived in Canada.

In 1895, Gregorios Kanellakos became the first Greek who settled in Ottawa.

Canada-Greece relations stretch back to 1899 when the first Greek Consul-General arrived in Montreal, but early bilateral ties were tenuous and insignificant.

By 1900, the Canadian census recorded approximately 200 persons of Greek descent.

Prior to 1900, there were only two Greeks in Ottawa: Gregorios Kanellakos and his brother Demetrios Kanellakos. Between 1900 and 1910, about ten Greek families (approximately 20 people) settled in Ottawa. By 1930, the number increased to thirty households.

Around 1910, the “Panhellenic Union Ottawa Chapter” was formed with Stavros (Steve) Ladas as President. This was a branch of the Panhellenic Union, headquartered Boston, Massachusetts, aimed to bring together Greeks of the United States and Canada. The Ottawa Chapter, however, was short-lived, mainly due to the lack of members brought on by the Balkan War of 1912, which saw many young Greeks in the United States and Canada return to Greece to fight for their country of birth.

 

1920s

On February 25th, 1929, a group of leading Hellenes, residing in Ottawa, founded “The Hellenic Community of Ottawa”. 

A committee was elected for the management of affairs with Peter Karson (Karkazis) (1929-1935) as the first President.

At the same time, the Reverend Daniel Gamvrilis (1929-1936) from Chicago accepted an interim assignment to Ottawa and became the first priest to serve the newly founded Community. Until then, the religious needs of the Ottawa Greeks were served from priests of the Hellenic Community of Montreal who visited the nation’s capital four times during the year.

 


1930s

In order-to maintain and improve contacts with Greek immigrants elsewhere in North America, the “Sir Edward Codrington” Chapter of AHEPA was established on February 4th, 1931.

The first permanent priest of the Community, Reverend Theodoros Skartsiaris (1936-1938), arrived and religious services were held at the St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church at 341 Lyon Street N. (today “St. Elijah’s Housing”). The Church was owned by the Lebanese Community of Ottawa and served the Ottawa Greeks until 1947.

In 1936, the female members of Ottawa’s Greek Community founded the Ottawa chapter of the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society with Constantina Karson as its first President.

In 1936, John Clademenos (1936-1942) became President of the Community. The new President was instrumental in the hiring of Reverend Vasilios Demeroutis (1939-1950) who arrived in Ottawa in 1939 and was also a graduate of the Teachers College of Athens. Both men, together with the fledging Community, devoted their energy to send aid to Greece through the Canadian War Relief Program during the World War II.

 

 

1940s

HCO Picnic – 1945

 

During the Forties, the Community became much more organized and determined to become a corporation under the Province of Ontario.

In June 1942, the Greek Government, perceiving the important role Canada was to play in world affairs during and after World War II, established a Mission in Ottawa with George Depastas as the first chargé d’affaires of Greece in Canada.

On July 4th, 1942, His Majesty King George II and the Prime Minister of Greece, Emmanuel Tsouderos, visited Canada from their exile in Egypt (due to the WWII) and began strong bilateral ties between the two countries.

In November 1942, the Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King appointed George Vanier (future Governor General of Canada) as Minister to the Greek government in exile.

On June 18th, 1943, the Greek Community was incorporated as Not for Profit Organization in the Province of Ontario under the name “The Hellenic Community of Ottawa” and, as per its Letters Patent, for the following purposes and objectives: “To buy, purchase, lease or otherwise acquire, obtain and hold or provide property to be used as a church, place of worship and place for religious instruction and instruction in the Greek language for persons of Greek Orthodox faith…the said Corporation shall be carried on without the purpose of gain for its members, and that any profits or other accretions to the Corporation shall be used in promoting its objectives.”

In 1943, George Stamos (1943-1948) was elected President. In 1947, during his term of office, the Community rented the Apostolic Catholic Church at 360 Albert Street (corner of Albert and Lyon Street; today known as “Constitution Square”) for $20 a month. This Church became the first Greek Orthodox Church in Ottawa known as “Kimissis Tis Theotokou” (Dormition of the Virgin Mary) and it served the congregation for over 25 years. In the early part of this decade, the Hellenic School (1941), the Sunday School (1942), and the Church Choir were established under the direction of Fr. Demeroutis.

During World War ΙΙ, over $3 million-worth of Canadian aid had poured into Athens.

On October 16th, 1944, and only a few days following the withdrawal of the German Army from Greece, the Royal Canadian Navy returned the new Greek Prime Minister, Georgios Papandreou, and his government-in-exile to Greece on the HMCS Prince David. As the ship entered the Port of Piraeus, they were met with a tumultuous welcome by the newly freed Greeks.

In 1945, Greece and Canada raised the status of their diplomatic missions to full-fledged Embassies. Major-General L.R. Laflèche became the first Canadian Ambassador to Greece. Mr. Constantinos Sakellaropoulos became the first Greek Ambassador to Canada.

In 1949, George Andrews (1949-1952) became President of the Community.

1950s

Greek Independence Day celebrations – 1954

The Fifties began with tragedy with the untimely death of Father Vasilios Demeroutis. George Andrews was instrumental in recruiting the Reverend Philip Ramphos (1950-1982) as the fourth priest of the Community.  As well, Mr. Andrews led a team of prominent Greeks from Ottawa to negotiate the purchase of the rented Church on Albert Street for $6,000.  This was accomplished on January 22nd, 1954, and an immediate refurbishment started with a new Holy Temple “Iconostasis” in place before the end of the decade.

By the mid Fifties, James Karrys (1953) had assumed the Presidency followed by George Andrews who was re-elected and served for one more year (1954).

In 1955, John Bouris (1955-1956) was elected President. He played an essential role in the Community’s future by convincing the membership to purchase the land at 1315 Prince of Wales Drive on which the Hellenic Community Centre and Church stand today, and which also is the official address of the Corporation.

In 1955, the local GOYA chapter was established, and the Church had become the focal point for both young and old Greeks. In 1959, “St. George’s Dafnioton Sociey” – the first Greek Association in Ottawa – was founded.

The Fifties ended with John Karakasis (1957-1959) as President and with the Hellenic Community of Ottawa issuing its first Yearbook (1959) in commemoration of the celebration of the 25th of March – both as a religious day and an anniversary of Greek Independence.

In the middle of this decade, our Community began participating in the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Ottawa War Memorial. In fact, Fr. Philip Ramphos was one of the first few religious leaders to take part in the Pan-Canadian celebration – a tradition that continues to this day. Each year, our spiritual leader and HCO President participate in the ceremony by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on behalf of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa.

1960s

The Sixties started with a new President, Paul Mefsut (1960-1963).

In 1960, the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Toronto was established under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America.

In April 1961, the Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis paid a three-day visit to Canada promoting the bilateral relations on political, economic, and immigration issues between the two countries.

In the middle of the decade, Anastasios (Tasso) Varaklis (1964-1965) was elected President.

Τhe major event of the sixties -with strong persuasion of John Bouris- was the purchase of the first and largest piece of land on Prince of Wales Drive for $19,000. On October 27,1964, the purchase was finalized.

A few months later, on January 15th, 1965, two more pieces of land adjacent to the first were purchased, both for $19,000. On June 12th, 1967, the constructions for the first Greek Community Centre in Ottawa commenced under the management of Anastasios Varaklis, a Civil Engineer, who voluntarily oversaw the construction and the execution of the Project. The Community Centre was inaugurated on January 26th, 1968. The Centre doubled as an interim Church during the transition from the Albert Street Church to the new Church on Prince of Wales Drive.

Towards the end of this decade, Greek immigration to Canada reached its peak with many Greek families settling in the Ottawa area. As a result, cultural activities of the Community increased.

The Hellenic School was better organized, GOYA increased its activities, and the first local organized Greek soccer team (1967) was established.

George Havaris (1966-1967) was elected President in 1966 and was succeeded by John Fragiskos (1968) as interim Presiden.

In 1969, Nick Pezoulas (1969-1970) became President of the Community. Under his administration, the Council authorized Bingo evenings at the Community Centre as a revenue-raising method to provide much-needed funds for the Community.

1970s

LEFT: Greek Independence Day Celebrations – 1973
RIGHT: Construction of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church – 1974

During the Seventies, the Community began work on building a new and larger Church to accommodate the large number of Greeks who continued to settle in Ottawa. A Building Fund Committee was established; chaired by Nick Pezoulas.

Paul Mefsut (1971-1974) was re-elected President of the Community, and on September 25th, 1972, the old Church (Albert and Lyon Street) was sold for $175,000.

Οn April 30th, 1973, another piece of land on Prince of Wales was purchased in the south side of the existent property for $48,500.

In the spring of 1974, a successful fundraising dinner was organized with Nick Pezoulas as a chair. On March 31st, 1974, the General Assembly unanimously approved the architectural plans prepared by the Architect and Engineer Constantinos Zourdoumis who would also go on to design the St. Elijah Lebanese Orthodox Church in Ottawa (Riverside Road).

On Palm Sunday,  April 7th, 1974, in the presence of many members and the newly elected Bishop of Canada, Sotirios of Konstantia, a ground breaking ceremony of the new Church took place. Father Philip Ramphos was given a silver shovel and he turned the first spade full of earth. Constantinos Zourdoumis provided both architectural and structural plans at no cost to the Community. As a Civil Engineer, Anastasios Varaklis undertook and completed the entire construction of the new Church keeping costs within the budget approved of $450,000. He did this by donating his time, expertise, and an unending supply of materials and supplies. The building was ready in early spring of 1975. The Iconostasis from the old Church was installed and on Palm Sunday, April 27th, 1975, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the new Church.

By the end of this decade, the Iconography of the Church which included the Iconostasis, Pantocrator and Platytera was completed. The Bishop’s Throne (Despotikon), the Amvon, and the Epitafios were also purchased.

The Turkish invasion to Cyprus on July 20th, 1974, resulted in the displacement of 200,000 Greek Cypriots and the disappearance of 1,614 persons captured by the Turkish army. The Community was mobilized by this tragedy and, in a short time, funds, clothing and medicine were collected and were soon on their way to Cyprus.

In 1975 Christos Georgaras (1975-1976) became President. In the lower level of the Church, the Sunday School rooms were constructed and the weekly Sunday night cinema -with the screening of Greek films in the Community Centre- commenced.

On November 30th, 1976, the Community purchased an additional piece of land located at the front left entrance of the parking lot and adjacent to the Temple Israel (previously a gas station), for $107,000.

The Seventies saw the beginning of the annual Greek Summer Festival (Panigyri) which initially only lasted for one day.

In 1976, Gus Pezoulas (1977-1978) was elected President. In 1977, the Community unveiled a plaque honouring the 30 Canadian soldiers, nurses, and aircrew members that were killed during World War II and buried in Greece.  Τhe same year, the first Hellenic School Committee was also formed.

At the end of 1978, Eleftherios (Terry) Pantieras (1979-1980) was elected President of the Community. The new year started with a major mishap for the Community.  On January 1st, 1979, the Church’s roof suffered structural damage due to adverse winter weather. Flooding in the Church and basement resulted in major damage to the paintings and icons. Necessary repairs were done, and the roof was replaced. Fortunately, the cost was covered by insurance.

The decade also saw the establishment of various Hellenic Associations and Societies including: Parnassos Cultural Society (1974); Panevoikon Association of Ottawa, “Paliria” (1975); the Greek Canadian Hockey League (1975); Cretans Association of Ottawa and District “Agios Nektarios” (1976); Samian Society of Ottawa “Polykratis” (1976); Society of Reiheoton of Canada (1976); and the establishment of two dance groups: the Parnassos Hellenic Dance Group (1977) and the Hellenic Community Dance Group (1979).

1980s

LEFT: Greek School field trip – 1987
MIDDLE: Greek School class – 1984
RIGHT: Greek Independence Day Celebrations – 1985

The Eighties found the Community at a crossroads facing new challenges and needs. The most urgent issues were the recruitment of a new priest, the Consecration of the Church, the drafting of local By-laws, and the expansion of facilities to meet the needs of members.

By the end of 1980, Eleftherios (Terry) Pantieras was re-elected as President (1981-1982) making it his second term. Early in his term, the City of Ottawa offered the Community the land behind the Community Centre fronting onto Lampman Crescent (formerly the park allowance for the neighborhood) for $50,000. This was a good will gesture by the City of Ottawa as they were not going to use the land.

In 1981, four Glebe Collegiate graduates, Kosta Georgaras, Bill Kontogiannis, Nick Pantieras and Kostaki Pezoulas, formed the musical band “Poseidon” which performed for the first time on September 19th, 1981, at the Samian Society annual dance. As time went on, the roster of the band members evolved. Chris Pezoulas, Tony Pantieras, Nick Nikolakakos, George Missios and Anastasios Pavlou joined the group as well.

The hiring of a new priest became even more urgent in the summer of 1982 when Father Ramphos became critically ill. In the fall of 1982, the Reverend Antonios Athanassiadis (1982-1983) was appointed as Interim Priest of the Church. He introduced certain innovations to the long-established religious practices in our Parish.  For example, he officiated a bilingual Liturgy that is now standard practice. During his tenure, the third Clergy-Laity Conference took place in Ottawa.

In the fall of 1982, Leander Tryphonas (1983-1984) was elected President and took office on January of 1983. To deal with the challenges that came with a growing Community, he appointed new committees that worked hard and created new programs.

At that time, there were increased contacts between Canada and Greece which resulted in visits to Canada first by the President of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis, on October 14th, 1982, and subsequently by the Prime Minister of Greece, Andreas Papandreou on March 27th, 1983. The membership and the Associations of the Community were given the opportunity to meet with both Greek dignitaries.

In 1983, the members honoured Father Philip Ramphos for over 30 years of service to the Greek Community with a dinner at the Skyline Hotel.

A By-laws Committee was established with George Trigylidas and Photios Kizas as co-Chairs. Up until the approval of the new By-laws, in 1986, the Community followed those of the Archdiocese of North & South America.

In February 1984, Reverend Nikolaos Alexandris (1984 – early 1992) was appointed the sixth Priest of our Parish. One of his main objectives was the youth of our Community.

In 1983, the Macedonian Association of Ottawa, “Alexander the Great”, was formed. This was followed in 1985 by the founding of the Canadian Arcadian Society of Ottawa, “Theodoros Kolokotronis”.

In 1984, the glass front of the upper level of the Church was replaced with stain glass depicting the “Dormition of the Virgin Mary” a project overseen and financially covered by the Greek Ladies Philoptochos of Ottawa.

In the fall of 1984, Stylianos (Steve) Ramphos (1985-1986) was elected President of the Community. He led the Consecration committee and the challenge of dedicating the Church building as a House of God was successfully met on September 29th, 1985, with Bishop Sotirios officiating. It was fortunate that the health of Father Ramphos had improved, and he was able to participate and see his dream fulfilled.

In 1985 another “first” was instituted: the “Gold Plate Dinner” which became a very successful annual event. This event was in support of our Community and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

In 1986, Constantinos Zygoumis (1987-1988) was elected President. He took office in January of 1987 and extended the Greek Festival to more days. By this time, one of the priorities of the Community was to provide appropriate facilities for the youth and the elderly. A Building Expansion Committee was established with a mandate to optimize the development of the Prince of Wales property.

Efstathios (Steve) Karaiskos (1989-1990) became the Community’s President in 1989. Soon after the expansion and renovation of the Community Centre commenced. Leonard P. Koffman provided the architectural plans and George C. Georgaras and Dimitrios Athanassiadis oversaw, voluntarily, the completion of the Project which was made possible through the financial support of the members and a $200,000 grant by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.

In commemoration of the church consecration, a book titled The Hellenes of Ottawa, was published at the end of the decade. It was written and edited by Leander Tryphonas with the assistance of Dean Karakasis and Alice Sophianopoulos. This book outlined the history of the first years of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa until the mid-Eighties.

In 1989 the Laconian Association was established.

Also, in 1989, with the initiative and participation of the Hellenic School teachers, the Theatrical Group of the Community was established and had its first performance that same year.

1990s

LEFT TO RIGHT:
The HCO Theatrical Group Performing “H Avli ton Thavmaton” – 1992
Photo shoot with the Odyssey Dance Troupe photo – 1995
Visit from His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew – 1998
Greek Dance performances at the Canadian Museum of History – 1995
Zorba Show at Ottawa GreekFest – 1991
GOYA trip to Canada’s Wonderland – 1994

On February 10th, 1990, twenty-two years since its first opening, the official Grand Opening of the newly expanded Community Centre/Banquet Hall took place.

Eleftherios (Terry) Pantieras (1991-1992) was elected President for the following term, making it his third time to hold the position.

In 1991 two annual fund-raising events were established. A “Bowlathon” supporting the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the “HIKE for CHEO” supporting the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. By the end of the decade both events raised thousands of dollars for the two hospitals.

On May 16th, 1992, Reverend Alexandros Michalopulos was appointed as the seventh Priest of the Community Parish, and several new programs were introduced such as:  The Hellenic Playgroup (H.O.P.E.), the Junior Orthodox Youth (J.O.Y.), Junior G.O.Y.A. and Y.A.L., a group for adults. Also, the “Weekly Bible Study” for adults commenced.

In the end of 1993, James Sioris (1993-1994) became the Community President. He  placed an emphasis on the finances of the Community. As well, his Council created two new job positions: one for a bookkeeper and another for a Lay Assistant to help with the Parish work and the coordination of the youth activities.

In the fall of 1994, Elias Makris (1995-1996) was elected President of the Community and took office in January 1995.

In the spring of 1995, the Senior Citizens Association of Ottawa “Socratis” was established.

In 1996, the Community embarked on an expansion of the Church building with two bell towers on either side of the main entrance. This expansion saw the addition of space to provide an office for the Priest and Church Secretary, a second conference room, and most importantly, an elevator to ensure that older people and people with special needs could access the main level of the Church.  At the same time, air-conditioning was installed in the Church. George C. Georgaras, Sotiris Giovanopoulos P. Eng., and Georgia (Gina) I. Pezoulas, Architect, voluntarily took care of the planning and the management of the Project until its completion. The architectural plans created by Vladimir Franovic under the direction of the three volunteers above, were displayed in the Church for three weeks for members to provide feedback.

In January 1997, Panagiotis (Peter) Tzovas (1997-1998) was appointed President of the Community and took office.

On May 25th, 1998, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visited Canada for the first time. This was a landmark point in the history of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa. His All Holiness officiated the Vespers in our Church, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, which was followed by a dinner reception in His honour hosted by the Community at the Hellenic Banquet Centre. In attendance were His Eminence, Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto (Canada), His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece to Canada, Mr. John Thomoglou, a great number clergy from across Canada, and the United States, leaders of other Christian and other religious faiths, political dignitaries from Canada and Greece, and hundreds of people.

The Ecclesiastical structure of the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada was also changed during this period. The “Greek Orthodox Diocese of Toronto”, which was under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America, became the “Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)” under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Bishop Sotirios was appointed “Metropolitan of Toronto and all of Canada”. During this decade, the Community participated in all the biennially Clergy Assemblies of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) and played an important role in shaping the economic relations of the Diocese and the Communities as well as in decisions that determined the relations between the two bodies.

In 1998, the Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Leander Tryphonas, was established with the mandate to consult with members of the Community and to determine the priorities of the Community for the new millennium. Special consideration was to be given to the growing number of young people and new families that would constitute the majority of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa over the next 10 years.

In January 1999, George Mamalis (1999) was appointed President of the Community. Shortly after he took Office, he resigned for personal reasons, and James Kalogerakos (1999-2000), the First Vice-President of the Community at the time, became the new President.  By this time, the Ottawa Greek Festival “Paniyiri” had become one of the most successful Festivals in the nation’s capital, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

In August of 1999, the Community web site www.helleniccommunity.com was created, designed by Kosta and Angela Kokkinos who continued to update the site voluntarily.

At the same time, electronic e-mail access to the Community

office@helleniccommunity.com, Church church@helleniccommunity.com, and Banquet Hall offices manager@helleniccommunity.com were established.

A website for the Banquet Hall, www.hellenicbanquet.com, was also created.

For over two decades, John Georgantopoulos’ company Travel Net Communications provided free services for the operation of the websites.

The New Millennium was welcomed by the Ottawa Greeks with a New Year’s Eve Gala organized by the Community and supported by all Hellenic Associations and Societies in Ottawa. The Gala took place at the Ottawa Crowne Plaza Hotel on December 31st, 1999, and it was a great success!

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a handful of Greeks, residing in the capital of their new homeland, envisioned a Community that their descendants would be proud of. With hard work, courage, and faith in the ideals they had carried with them from their homeland, they fulfilled their vision.

By the end of the twentieth century, the Hellenic Community of Ottawa was a thriving community in the nation’s capital; one that carried the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Faith and Greek culture generation after generation, and one that held a special place among the Ottawa community at large.

Its future looked even brighter.

2000s

LEFT TO RIGHT:
Visit from the Greek President, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos – 2000
Church Choir performing at National Museum of History – 2000
Greek Independence Day Dinner Dance – 2000
Good Friday Services – 2002
HCO Hike for CHEO – 2005
Mr. Jim Georgiles, a great benefactor to the HCO – 2008

The new millennium and new decade found the Community facing new challenges. New Greek families had moved to Ottawa from other Canadian Provinces (mostly Quebec), and second-generation Greek Canadians started their own families. As a result, membership increased significantly as did the services of the Church and Community to the members.

On May 10th, 2000, the Hellenic Community of Ottawa held a Testimonial Dinner to honour Nick Michelis for his 50 years of Service to the Church and the Community as a Chanter and Choir Master.

On May 27th, 2000, the President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos visited Canada as an official guest of Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada, Ms. Adrienne Clarkson. The Hellenic Community of Ottawa along with Greek Representatives from other cities in Canada, welcomed President Stephanopoulos at the military airport in Ottawa. The next day, His Excellency attended the Divine Liturgy officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto, at the Dormition of Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church. That same evening, the President met with leaders of the Hellenic Associations and Societies of Ottawa and attended a sold-out dinner which was hosted in His honour, by the Community at the Hellenic Banquet Hall.

In the fall of 2000, the Community began construction on the lower level of the Hellenic Banquet Centre in order to create a recreational center for its senior members. The  Project was a joint effort that included Sotiris Giovanopoulos, George C. Georgaras, and Georgia (Gina) I. Pezoulas who also designed the architectural plans at no cost to the Community. On December 15th, 2000, the Seniors’ Centre “Estia” was inaugurated. The opening was attended by the Ambassador of Greece to Canada, at that time, Mr. Leonidas Chryssanthopoulos.

In the fall of 2000, Stylianos (Steve) Ramphos (2001-2002) was elected President of the Community for the second time in 15 years. For the first time in the Community’s history – and in commemoration of March 25th, 1821 – on March 25th, 2001, the Laying of the Wreath Ceremony and Trisagion took place at the Ottawa War Memorial. This was followed by the Greek Independence Day Parade, the Raising of the Greek Flag, and a Reception at the new Ottawa City Hall (Laurier Avenue) with the participation of the Ottawa Fire Fighters Band. In the past (mid 80s and 90s), the raising of the flag and reception took place at the old Ottawa City Hall on Sussex Drive.

In the fall of 2001, the entire roof of the Community Centre was replaced, and the Sunday School classrooms and the Church Boardroom were renovated and refurbished. At the same time, the Community and Church caretaker, Mr. Lionel Duperron, retired after 15 years of dedicated service. Following his retirement, the house behind the Church where he had been living was demolished. This house had been there long before the Community purchased the land. During the 1970s, the house was used for Sunday School, and it was the last of the original structures on the Prince of Wales property.

On May 22nd, 2002, Alexander Sophianopoulos was selected by the Community members as “Member of the Year” and was honoured by the Community in a Testimonial Fundraising Dinner.

By 2002, the younger generation of the Greek Canadians living in the Ottawa area were starting to get more involved with the operation of the Community. Younger families became more active within various Community and Church events. The Greek Summer Festival got a “face-lift” and was named one of the Best Festivals in Canada.

At the end of 2002, Stylianos (Steve) Ramphos (2003-2004) was re-elected President for a third term.

In order to fulfill the expansion of the Community for the future construction of a Day Care, Seniors Home, and Hellenic School, the Community signed the purchasing documents for a residence behind the Church, at 869 Maryland Avenue for $325,000 on January 30th, 2003.

A year later on January 9th, 2004, another contract was signed, this time for the purchase of the property at 1335 Prince of Wales Drive (at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Prince of Wales Drive). This property consisted of the old School House and 30,000 square feet of development land and was purchased for $530,000. Later, the Community approached the City of Ottawa with a proposal to potentially build fifty apartment units for seniors. This was approved and increased the value of the property substantially. (Today, thanks to intensification incentives by the City, 124 apartment units can be erected on the site).

At the same time, negotiations began with Temple Israel to purchase their property which is adjacent to ours. A conditional arrangement was entered into whereby the Community could purchase their property for $2,000,000, provided their congregation was able to secure a piece of land for their potential re-development. Unfortunately, they had to back out of the deal as they were unable to find a solution that they could afford.

In 2003, “Orthodollars” a charitable donation system for members was first introduced by Nick Florakas who was the chair of the Membership Committee at that time.

On March 25th, 2003, the Canadian Government and Canada Post issued a Commemorative Stamp as a “Tribute to Canadian Hellenism” and to honour AHEPA for its 75 year history in Canada.  The unveiling of the stamp took place in the West Block of Parliament Hill and was attended by the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, his Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto (Canada), the Ambassador of Greece to Canada Mr. Leonidas Chrissanthopoulos, a number of Members of the Parliament, AHEPA Dignitaries from Canada and the United States, and many other political representatives.

In June 2003, the 13th Clergy-Laity Assembly of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto took place in Ottawa. The Community organized many events in order to host the representatives of the Hellenic Communities and Clergy from across Canada.

In the fall of 2003, the Church roof was replaced, and the offices of the Hellenic Community and the Banquet Hall were renovated and refurbished. At the same time, the Church Renovations/Fundraising Committee was established with Jim A. Reklitis as Chairman. The fundraising drive budgeted to bring in $150,000, but thanks to the generosity of our parishioners, a total of $250,000 was raised.

Before the end of 2004, the membership approved that the 1984 By-laws be repealed and replaced by the new 2004 By-laws. The first coloured Yearbook was published.

On January 4th, 2004, the Church closed, and renovations began, costing $400,000. Renovations included construction on the main entrance and cover with granite, a new emergency exit on the South side of the Church, replacement of the interior drywall ceiling and ductwork, installation of new lighting and sound systems, refurbished pews, installation of granite in the narthex, soleas and holy altar of the Church, and installation of a new carpet. In addition, on the soleas included a mosaic with the letters “Alpha” and “Omega” along with double-headed eagle, the symbol of Orthodoxy. During the renovations, Church Services were held at the Hellenic Banquet Hall, just like they were during the construction of the church in 1974.

Palm Sunday had played a symbolic role in the life of our Church and Community.

  • On a Palm Sunday, on April 7th, 1974, the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Church took place.
  • On a Palm Sunday, on April 27th, 1975, the first ever Divine Liturgy was celebrated in our Church. 
  • Almost 30 years later, following major renovations which lasted three full months, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in our Church. It was April 4th, 2004, and once again on Palm Sunday!  

On July 28th, 2004, Canada Post issued a stamp. A commemorative plaque presented to the Community reads as follows: “Presented to the President of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa to commemorate the unveiling of the postage stamp marking the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens.” 

The opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games were held in Athens on August 13th, 2004. On that same day, our Community organized a symbolic ceremony to commemorate the games by lighting an Olympic Torch from the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. During the eleven days of that summer’s GreekFest, the flame remained lit at the entrance of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa reminding everyone of the glory of our homeland and the inseparable ties between Canada and Greece.

 

Bibliography

  1. Archives of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa.

Minutes of the Board of Directors and Minutes of the General Assemblies.

  1. Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in Canada (website).
  2. Moving Forward Together – Canada Greece Relations 1942-2012

(Hernan Tesler-Mabé).

  1. The Hellenes of Ottawa – The history of the Greeks in Ottawa 1929-1985.

(Leander Tryphonas, Dean Karakasis, Alice Sophianopoulos).

  1. “2000 Commemorative Community Album” – A brief history of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa 1985-2000 (Alex Sophianopoulos).
  2. “The Hellenic Community of Ottawa 75th Anniversary – 1929-2004” – Condensed history of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa 1929-2004.

(Emmelia Kardaras, Alice Sophianopoulos).

  1. Greeks in Canada (G. D. Vlassis).

Historical data was compiled and prepared by Emmelia Kardaras.

Note: We are hoping to complete the history of our Community from 2004 to present soon.