The largest ethnic group is English (21%), followed by French (15.8%), Scottish (15.2%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (5%), Chinese (4%), Ukrainian (3.6%), and First Nations (3.5%).
A Ukrainian Canadian is a person of Ukrainian descent or origin who was born in or immigrated to Canada. In 2006, there were an estimated 1,209,085 persons residing in Canada (mainly Canadian citizens) of Ukrainian origin, making them Canada's ninth largest ethnic group, and giving Canada the world's third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia. Self-identified Ukrainians are the plurality in several rural areas of Western Canada.
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Post-independence Ukrainian fifteen-kopiyka stamp commemorating the centenary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, 1891-1991.The first wave of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada were Iwan Pylypow and Wasyl Eleniak, who arrived in 1891, and brought several families to settle in 1892. Pylypow helped found the Edna-Star Settlement, the first and largest Ukrainian block settlement. But it was Dr. Josef Oleskow who is considered responsible for the large Ukrainian Canadian population by promoting Canada as a destination for immigrants from Western Ukraine (the Austrian crownlands of Galicia and Bukovyna) in the late 1890s. Ukrainians from Eastern Ukraine, which was ruled by the Russian monarchy, also came to Canada - but in smaller numbers than those from Galicia and Bukovyna.
Controversially, it has been written that a tiny number of Ukrainians settled in Canada before 1891. Most disputed is the claim that Poles and Ukrainians may have been infantrymen in the Swiss French "De Meurons" and "De Watteville" regiments who fought for the British in the Niagara region during the War of 1812 - and that some Ukrainians were among those soldiers who decided to stay in Upper Canada (southern Ontario). Other Ukrainians supposedly arrived as part of other immigrant groups: claims that individual Ukrainian families may have settled in southern Manitoba in the 1870s alongside blocks of Mennonites and other Germans from the Russian Empire; or that single male Ukrainians were participants in the Russian Empire's exploration parties and fur trade along the western coast of North America (including British Columbia). Because there is so little definitive documentary evidence of individual Ukrainians among these three groups, they are not generally regarded as among the first Ukrainians in Canada.
Early Ukrainian immigration to Canada (from 1891 to 1914) was largely agrarian, and at first Ukrainian Canadians concentrated in distinct block settlements in the parkland belt of the Prairie provinces - Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. While the Canadian Prairies are often compared to the steppes of Ukraine, it should be noted that the settlers came from Galicia and Bukovyna - which are not steppe lands, but are wooded areas in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. This is why Ukrainians coming to Canada settled in the wooded aspen parklands, in an arch from Winnipeg to the Peace River Country of Alberta, rather than the open prairies further south. As well the feudal nature of land ownership in the Austrian Empire meant that in the "Old Country" people had to pay the pan (landlord) for all their firewood and lumber for building. Upon arriving in Canada, the settlers often demanded wooded land from officials so that they would be able to supply their own needs, even if this meant taking land that was less productive for crops. They also attached deep importance to settling near to family, people from nearby villages or other culturally similar groups, furthering the growth of the block settlements. By 1914, there were also growing communities of Ukrainian immigrants in eastern Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, and Windsor. Many of them arrived from the provinces of Podillia, Volhynia, Kyiv and Bessarabia in Russian-ruled Ukraine. In the early years of settlement Ukrainian immigrants faced considerable amounts of discrimination at the hands of native-born Canadians, an example of which was the internment.