Slovensko Kanadsko Društvo - Slovenian Canadian Club of Calgary

  

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About Us


HISTORY OF SLOVENIAN CANADIAN CLUB OF CALGARY

As far as it is known, the Slovenian people began to immigrate to Calgary and
surrounding area in the early 1925. Most of them worked as miners in East Coulee in
Canmore while others were employed by the railway. The second major wave of
Slovenians arrived and settled in the province of Alberta after Second World War and the
numbers continued to grow well into 1960s. It was during this time that the Slovenian
people started to gather at the Slovenian masses held by the visiting missionaries.

In 1965, the Slovenians in Calgary and surrounding area had a burning desire to create a
Slovenian Community Club. At the first meeting only 15 Slovenians attended.
Nonetheless, a committee was elected consisting of 8 people. They met every month to
organize events for the Slovenians in Calgary. The committee started to organize picnics
around Calgary. The picnics were held on private acreages. These picnics provided a
time for Slovenians to unite so they could tell stories, sing traditional songs and enjoy
fine Slovenian cuisine and spirits. The committee’s next venture was to organize dances
in community halls in Calgary. As the activities grew so did the membership. Eighteen
families were now registered as members.

In 1966 the committee established and registered a charter with the Provincial
Government under the Societies Act to form a non-profit organization. The organization
was registered under the name of the ‘Slovenian Canadian Club of Calgary, Slovenkso
Kanadsko Drustvo – Calgary’. And the club was born. The members of the committee
who registered the club with the Provincial Government were:
- President: Alojz Cipot
- Vice president: Franc Skerlak
- Secretary: Rudi Skapin
- Treasurer: Slavko Krancan
- Helping committee:
o Slavko Andolsek
o Rudi Kress
o Pavel Bec
o Bruno Spelic

The underlining goal of the organization was to provide a place for Slovenians to meet,
celebrate and preserve the Slovenian culture and Slovenian language. This was and still
is the foundation that our club is built on and binds us together. It also keeps us
connected to our Slovenian roots.

General meetings were called annually and a new committee was elected with hopes for
expansion and growth. In the later part of the 1960’s the membership grew to about 100
registered families. A drama club was created as well as the men’s choir under the
leadership of Marjan Pavlica. This growth presented another need and desire, the need
and desire for a Slovenian Center, a place where Slovenians could call their own, their
piece of Slovenia here in Calgary.

In 1971, the dream was realized when the Slovenian community purchased an old school
building and through years have transformed it into our beautiful center. In 1972, the
Slovenian community held an opening ceremony which was attended by Rev. Molnar
and Mr. Rod Sykes, the mayor of Calgary. The Slovenian Men’s choir as well as a
children’s choir sang traditional Slovenian songs, and a dancing group performed in
national costumes.

The Slovenian community has come a long way and accomplished much since its
beginning. Slovenian school was established and ran for many years under the guidance
of Mrs. Ida Pavlica. After a short gap, the Slovenian School was re-organized and run
for youth as well as adults by Mrs. Anna Terenta and Mrs. Mary Terenta-Donnelly. Mrs.
Terenta and Mr. Leo Kladnik lead a folklore group that performed many Slovenian
traditional dances. Mrs. Olga Metez established cooking and baking classes for young
Canadian Slovenians.

In the 1980s, the members participated in Calgary’s ‘Multicultural Food Fair’. A booth
was set up to display our traditional arts & crafts, along with different Slovenian
artefacts. Slovenian food was served by Slovenians dressed in their national costumes.
During this time the Slovenian club won first place three consecutive years for its effort
and commitment to the fair.

Fundraising has been a major part of the club history. The club started with donations
and loans from its members. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Slovenian Club
under the direction of Mrs. June Hojnik applied for a licence from the Alberta Gaming
and Liquor Commission to hold a casino in order to raise funds for our community.
Since the mid 1980’s, the responsibility to organize and distribute the proceeds from
these casinos has been handled by Mrs. Mary Terenta-Donnelly. The money raised was
used not only to make this center more attractive but we also contributed money to
Canadian Institute for the Blind and Calgary Children’s Hospital. The Slovenian
community in Calgary has also participated in other special events to raise money to help
the flood victims in Slovenia and the purchase of new hospital equipment to fight Cancer
for the Hospital in Ljubljana.

The Slovenian Community of Calgary has also been involved in a multitude of events
throughout our history in Calgary. The club hosted the athletes and dignitaries during the
1988 Winter Olympics and presented the white Stetsons, donated by the Slovenian
companies, to the athletes. In recent years, the club has also hosted the Slovenian Luge
and Ski-jumping teams while they practiced at Canadian Olympic Park. The Slovenian
Club has been visited by many political figures and spiritual leaders such as the
Slovenian Cultural Minister, Bishop Uran and the present ambassador, Tomas Kunstelj
and counsellor Boris Jelovsek as well as former mayors Mr. Ralph Klien and Mr. Al
Duerr. Alderman Joe Ceci and MLA Mr. Wayne Cao have also attended different
functions held at our club. When the new nation, Slovenia, was being born, the Calgary
Slovenian Community demonstrated in front of Calgary City Hall in support of this
dream which later became a reality. Mrs. Ida Pavlica organized and spoke at the rally.

The Slovenian Canadian Club of Calgary is a place where many friendships have been
cultivated. Cultural traditions like VinskaTrgatev, Sv. Miklavz and Wine Tasting are
held annually. The club have also welcomed many Slovenian bands such as Slak,
Stajerskih 7, Vrtnice, Big Ben, Tony Verderber and most recently Pogum. The sounds of
Slovenian words are heard and the melody of Slovenian songs resounds throughout the
hall. Our club has also hosted folklore dancers from Winnipeg, plays from St.
Catherine’s and Edmonton and most recently, folklore dancers “Mladi Glas” and
“Planika” from Toronto.

In 2006 we were forty years old and celebrated with dignitaries, friends, past presidents
and faithful members. Ambassador Tomas Kunstelj and first Secretary Barbara Susnik,
MLA Wayne Cao as well as representatives from the Polish community in Calgary and
members from the Slovenian club in Edmonton were also in attendance. During the
celebration, we acknowledged the works of the past committees for without their
consistent effort, we would not have made it this far. The committees were under the
leadership of the following PRESIDENTS:

1966 – 1970

Alojz Cipot
Janez Fabijan
Slavko Andolsek
Ignac Horvat
Tine Kranjc

1971 – 1980

Joze Kotnjek
Frank Smerdely
Stan Strle
Janez Fabijan
Franc Zilavec
Joze Pozar

1981 – 1990

Alojz Bec
Joze Pozar
Franc Hajdinjak
Marjan Praprotnik
Aldo Cesnik
Paul Bec
Ida Pavlica
Franc Dvojmoc
Mary Terenta- Donnelly
Franc Hajdinjak

1991 – 2000

Joze Pozar
Franc Dobravec
Franc Hajdinjak
Tony Metez
Victor Taskar

2001 – 2010

Tony Metez
Anna Terenta
Steven Terenta

We continue to flourish and strive as we stepped into the 21st century. Our membership
is growing. We now have over 150 registered families. Slovenian classes have restarted
with adults who are second generation Slovenian or adults married to a Slovenian. The
Slovenian school is under the leadership of Mrs. Mary Terenta-Donnelly. Cooking and
baking classes are organized by Mr. Steven Terenta. As the Slovenian community
matured so did our members. As a result of our maturing membership, Mr. Russel
Donnelly organized a senior luncheon in 2004. Mr. Russel Donnelly and Mr. Walter
Staric still run this Seniors Luncheon program, which is held every third Tuesday of the
month from October to May. This event has had a strong attendance over the last five
years.

THE HALL

The hall, a one room former school, was purchased in the early 1970’s and was
immediately transformed into the Slovenian Canadian Club. During the 1970’s the
building was renovated and expanded to add a dance floor and stage. The kitchen
however was not touched so the volunteer cooks had to work in a very small area where
they prepared and served delicious Slovenian cuisine.

In the 1980’s the hall was expanded for the second time. A closet used as a kitchen was
expanded into a full size modern kitchen. The cooks finally had room to prepare and
serve their fine cuisine. Additions were made to the washrooms and storage areas.

The 1990’s saw more renovations. The interior was remodelled. The stage was extended
and a mural depicting Lake Bled was painted as a backdrop for the stage. Two other
murals were also painted, one on each side of the stage. The mural on the left side of the
stage shows a man dressed in a Slovenian National costume and the mural on the right
shows a woman dressed in a Slovenian National Costume. The hall truly took on a
Slovenian character with these additions. New lights, carpets, linoleum, speakers as well
as a new coat of paint made the hall look as if it were brand new.

In the early 2000’s renovations continued. The washrooms were completely overhauled.
New appliances have also been added as well as a new sound system.
Since its being, the hall has provided a place to gather, reminisce, rejoice, sing, dance,
learn and of course to eat for the Slovenian Community and its many friends. This hall
is a tribute to the many volunteers’ careful planning and hard work. The hall has been
under the care and watchful eye of Mr. Ivan Terenta since early 1990.

The Slovenian Canadian Club of Calgary reflects the proud, honourable and friendly
character of its membership. The club still provides a place for Slovenian-Canadian
Families and friends to meet, celebrate, preserve and enjoy the Slovenian Culture and
Slovenian Language.

This document was prepared and written by Mary Terenta-Donnelly. If there are any
omissions or errors, please contact me and I will be happy to make the changes.

Copyright 2014