Our History

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:   Slavko Andolsek   /   Rudi Kress   /   Pavel Bec   /   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 Sloveniancompanies, 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 Klein 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.

The Hall has also been involved with Globalfest since 2019, Alberta’s most explosive event. Visit event here!