Compiled by Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou

Timeline of the Greek Orthodox Community in Edmonton Alberta

Acknowledgments:

  • Nicholas Spillios [*01], initiated this project in 1995, at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Greek Orthodox Community of Edmonton.
  • Christopher J. Varvis [*02] and Christina Andrews [*03] made significant contributions to the project.
  • Speros Vlassopoulos [*04] provided information about KYKLOS and AHEPA.

1902
The first Orthodox Services are held in Edmonton by Fr. Jacob Korchinsky in a house Chapel marking the beginning of St. Barbara’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Fr. Korchinski was a missionary priest who founded many parishes in North America. He was killed in Odessa soon after the Bolshevik Revolution.
More info: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthodoxy_in_Hawaii

1902
St. Barbara’s Russian Orthodox Church began in 1902 in a small frame house just outside the Fort, near the current Legislature grounds, and was replaced by a wooden church in 1908. Construction of the current building began in 1956. Designed by local church architect Nicolas Flak, the building was completed in 1958 and consecrated on July 31, 1960.
More info: http://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/structures/st-barbaras-cathedral/

ca. 1904
G. D. Vlassis [01] reports that an old man, Yerontas, was the first Greek to set foot in Edmonton. He arrived prior to 1904. According to the same source, Yerontas still kept a confectionery store in the city in 1942. This has been impossible to confirm from other sources. None of the persons who arrived in the 1930s and were interviewed for this project was able to identify Yerontas or provide any information about him.

1906
William (Vassilios) Barootes arrives in Edmonton from Triglia, Asia Minor [02]; it marks the beginning of immigration by the Barootes family.

1907
Angelos Alaoglou (Alaoglu) arrives also from Triglia, Asia Minor [03]. The Alaoglou family later changed its surname to Leonidas.

1907
The Brown (Argyropoulos) brothers from Athens manage the Pantages Theatre (Alexander Pantages, b. Andros, Greece, 1876) on the site of the Strand Theatre (10209 – Jasper Avenue). This was one of the many Pantages Theatres across North America.

Information on A. Pantages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pantages

1914
Johnson’s Cafe, managed by Constantine Johnson (Yiannitsis or Giannitsis) opens [04]. Con. Johnson arrived in Edmonton from Calgary in 1911 but went back to Greece to fight in the Balkan wars of 1912 – 1913. He returned to Edmonton in 1914 and operated the restaurant until his death in 1952 [02].

1914
The American Dairy Lunch is acquired by George Spillios and James Lingas.

1923
St. Regis hotel is acquired by Andrew Agrios and James Varvis.

1930/11/19
The Aurora Borealis Chapter 10 CJ of the Order of AHEPA is established; George Plasteras is elected president. This is officially the first Greek organization in Alberta.

1932
The Hellenic Language School is established by the Order of AHEPA; George Spillios is elected chairman; Argyro Procopis (later Burgess) is the first teacher. There are approximately twenty-five students attending.

1933
The local Chapter of the Sons of Pericles is established; Nick Costabaris is elected president.

1938
The Edmonton Greek Canadian Community is established; George Spillios is elected chairman. This is also the first Greek Community in the Prairie Provinces!

1941
The Greek Canadian Ladies Society is established; Aspasia Spillios is elected president. Among the members are: Mrs. Jasmene Varvis, Harikleia Demas, Georgia Chanakos, Evangeline Kallas. The Society is particularly active during the war years, significantly contributing to the War Relief Effort. Money, clothing, foods, medicines etc. are collected and sent to Greece through the Red Cross. This Society becomes the forerunner to the Greek Canadian Ladies Philoptochos (Benevolent) Society, which will be founded in 1949.

1945
Ms. Helen Plasteras (Hill) becomes the first woman of Hellenic descent to obtain a University degree in Alberta. She receives her BCom from the University of Alberta and proceeds to also obtain a BEd from the same University in 1947. She is credited with suggesting the name “Pandas” for the ladies’ sports teams of the university [06].

1945/10/02
St. George Greek Orthodox Church is formally established and registered under the Religious Societies Lands Act of the Province of Alberta. The Church continues to be registered under this Act to this day (2019).

More info: http://www.gocedm.com/

1945
The property at the S.W. corner of Jasper Avenue and 114 street is acquired from the City of Edmonton for the sum of $3,000.00 [05]. The land is consecrated, and construction commences immediately. It must be stressed that twelve families only carried out the immense task of forming the community, purchasing the land, and building the Church!

 The founding members of the Greek Community

The first Board of Directors (1945)

President: George Spillios
Vice-President: Andrew Agrios
Secretary: Effie Leonidas
Treasurer: Dimitrios Katsantonis (James Anast)
Member: Philippos Mamatas
Member: Georgia Sakka (Saks)
Member: Maria Raikos
Member: Dimitrios (James) Varvis
Member: Constantine Johnson (Yiannitsos/Giannitsos)

Old Edmonton

1946
The Eleusinian Club is formed; it is the first gender-mixed youth group.

1948
The Church building is completed at the SW corner of 114 street and Jasper Avenue (10056 – 114 street). Fr. Basil of St. Barbara’s prepares the icons for the new Church. The original Church is a small one. The building will later be expanded twice.

1948
The Church is named after St. George, the Great Martyr, in honour of the first president, Mr. George Spillios.

1948
The Church receives its Charter from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

1949/05/08
Fr. Hiotis of Great Falls, Montana celebrates the first Divine Liturgy in the new Church.

1949
The Church Choir is established. It will later be improved and augmented during the service of the V. Rev. Fr. Ambrose Giannoukos (1951). The choir served the Church well into the late 1980’s. An attempt to revive it occurred in 2016 under the directorship of choir master, Christina Andrews. It served the Church until the end of 2017. It was revived again in January 2019 under the directorship of choir master, Zoe Sipsas and her daughter Heidi. Christina Andrews becomes the alternate choir master.

1949
The first cantors at the Church are Mr. Philippos Mamatas and Mr. Elias Costouros.

1949
The Greek Canadian Ladies Society is disbanded and the Greek Canadian Ladies Philoptochos (Benevolent) Society is formed; Mrs. William Kazakos is elected president.

1952
Helen Diamandidis is appointed teacher in the Hellenic Language School, which now operates under the auspices of the Church Community.

1953/05/22
The Greek Canadian Ladies Philoptochos (Benevolent) Society is officially registered in the Province of Alberta [05]. In the same year, it also receives its Charter from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. The members of the Board of Directors consist of:

Mrs. Angeliki Johnson, President (+1974)
Mrs. Galateia Chistophorides, Vice-President (+1970)
Mrs. Kay Gardener, Member (+
Mrs. Georgia Chanakos, Member (+2008)
Mrs. Harikleia Demas, Member (+

1954/01/19
The Daughters of Penelope, Edmonton Chapter is established. The first president is Mrs. Elizabeth (Bessie) Gardener.

1954 – 1962
The V. Rev. Archimandrite Ambrose Giannoukos arrives and takes up his duties as the first full-time parish priest.

1955
Dr. Daphne Irene Lingas – Clements becomes the first female of Hellenic descent to graduate from the Medical School of the University of Alberta. She belonged to the “class of 1955”. She worked for the Edmonton Department of Health. She later practiced, lived and died in California (2014/04/01).

ca 1963
The Church Choir is formed. The first organist was Mrs. Diana Kehaya, followed by Mrs. Yolanda Coumanterakis and Mrs. Christina Andrews who served very many years as the organist.

1959/06/07
His Grace, Dimitrios, Bishop of Olympus, consecrates the Church, ten years after it was completed. The Philoptochos Ladies Society is declared “sponsor (anadohos)” of the Church and symbolically receives the key.

1960 – 1963
Bishop Athenagoras of Elaia oversees the Greek Orthodox Communities in Canada.

1961/09/02
The Greek Orthodox Youth Association (G.O.Y.A.) receives its Charter from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

1962 – 1965
The V. Rev. Archimandrite Sotirios Athanassoulas takes up his duties as the second full-time parish priest. On 1973/12/18 he is elected, and on 1974/01/27 he is ordained (titular) Bishop of Constantia; in 1979 he is promoted to Bishop of Toronto; on 1996/09/24 he is elevated to the office of Metropolitan of Toronto and Exarch of all Canada.

1963 – 1967
Bishop Timotheos of Rodostolon oversees the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada.

Early 1960s

Mr. Harry (Christos) Sergiannis becomes a regular cantor of the Church. He will continue offering his services in this capacity until his death on 2012/02/24.

Mid-1960s

Mr. Chrysostomos Macris becomes a regular cantor of the Church.

1965 – 1968
The Rev. Ioannis (John) Floropoulos is appointed as the third full-time parish priest.

 The Ecumenical Banquet at the Chateau Lacombe

The Ecumenical Banquet (1968)

1968/01/30

Fr. Floropoulos was active in the community becoming involved in the city-wide interest in the Ecumenical movement.

Major W. A. J. Hosty of the Salvation Army was President of Edmonton and District Council of Churches and together with Fr. Floropoulos formed the idea of celebrating the movement by hosting a celebrative event.

Under President Nicholas Ioannides and the Church Board, the decision was made to hold an “Ecumenical Banquet” for the city of Edmonton. It was held at The Chateau Lacombe on Jan. 30th, 1968. It was hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America and President of the World Council of churches.

An enormous head table in two tiers was created to seat all the “Head Table Guests” that numbered 24 persons. In addition to the six “temporal” leaders there were 17 spiritual leaders of the Community. Included were the Lt Governor of Alberta Grant MacEwan, the Premier Ernest C. Manning, Edmonton Mayor V. M. Dantzer, four Archbishops, two Bishops, assorted Protestant Church leaders and a Rabbi. The protocol chief from the Legislature oversaw the arrangements!  The Choir of St. Barbara’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral entertained us. In all a very successful event.

Chateau Lacombe Edmonton

1967 – 1973
Bishop Theodosios of Ancona oversees the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada.

1968 – 1977
The V. Rev. Archimandrite Petros Karatroupkos (Peter Karas) is appointed as the fourth full-time priest of the Church; he serves until November 1977. On 2001/02/22 he was consecrated as bishop of Zambia of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. He resigned (2003/03/14) for health reasons and became titular bishop of Nicopolis (Patriarchate of Alexandria). He fell asleep in the Lord in his native Naousa on January 31, 2012.

1977
The Hellenic Language School acquires a governing Board; Mrs. Charlotte Spillios is the chair; Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou is the full-time instructor and principal.

1977/11/01
The Rev. Ioannis (John) Nikolaou is appointed as the fifth full-time parish priest; he serves until November 1979.

1979/12
The Rev. Dimitrios Rougas is appointed as the sixth full-time parish priest; he serves until 1995/02/28, at which time he is transferred to Calgary.

1980/11/01
The Hellenic Anthology radio program begins broadcasting from CKER radio; it is produced by John Karvellas and Steve (Aristeides) Makris.

1980
The “Hellenic Voice of Edmonton” is published as the local Greek magazine; the editor is Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou. The magazine will only publish five issues before stopping, due to lack of volunteers and contributors.

1981/09
Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou becomes the producer of the radio program Hellenic Anthology on CKER and holds that position until September 1999.

1981/09
The Hellenic Language School opens an annex in Jasper Park, AB. Mr. Eleftherios Pitoulis is elected chairman. Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou is the instructor and principal.

1982
The Hellenic Canadian Community of Edmonton & Region is established.

More info: https://www.edmontonhellenic.com/

1983/05
KYKLOS Hellenic Performing and Literary Arts Group is established by a group of university and high school students of Hellenic descent under the guidance of Katerina Pizanias and Kathy Rigakis.

More info: http://www.kyklosonline.com/

1984/03
KYKLOS Hellenic Performing and Literary Arts Group is incorporated as a non-profit organization in the Province of Alberta.

1985/09
The Hellenic Canadian Community of Edmonton & Region establishes its own Hellenic Language School.

1989
The Church-Community complex at 10831 – 124 Street is acquired from Beulah Alliance Church for the sum of $1,000,000.00 paid in cash.

1991/03/02

A fire started by the crew renovating the new building, damages much of the Church. Work immediately starts to repair the damages.

1991/10/06
His Grace, Bishop Sotirios of Toronto (Canada) consecrates the new Church at 10831 – 124 street.

1995/fall
The Rev. George Alexiou is appointed as the seventh full-time parish priest; he serves until early 1996.

 The incorporation of the Canadian Hellenic Congress of Alberta

The Canadian Hellenic Congress of Alberta (1995)

The Canadian Hellenic Congress of Alberta is incorporated in the Province; first president is Dr. Kostas Iatrou from Calgary. The Greek Orthodox Community of Edmonton is a founding member. The founding individuals are:

Mr. Athanasios Doikas
Dr. Kostas Iatrou, Ph.D.
Dr. Nicolas Kalogerakis, Ph.D.
Mr. Anastasios Kollias, P.Eng.
Mr. Nicholas Spillios, M.Ed.
Mr. Michael Theodosopoulos
Mr. Sevastos Zervos, P.Eng. (+ 2004)

Their application for incorporation of the Congress is witnessed on 1995/03/04 by the Rev. Dimitrios Rougas in Calgary.

More info: http://chca.yoll.net/

Congress

1995/11/18
The Greek Orthodox Community of Edmonton holds its 50th Anniversary Celebration and Banquet, during the presidency of Mr. Sevastos (Stakis) Zervos. The event takes place at the Mayfield Inn Grand Ballroom. Mr. Ernie Afaganis is the master of ceremonies.

1996/06
The V. Rev. Archimandrite Constantine Siarapis is appointed as the eighth full-time parish priest; he serves until September 2000.

2000 – 2001
The Church is served by the Rev. Dimitrios Polychroniadis, a retired priest, formerly serving the Calgary Community.

2001 – 2004
The Church is served by the V. Rev. Archimandrite Theodore Gove, who is also serving the Community in Prince George, B.C.

2003
Investiture of Dr. Christopher J. Varvis as Archon Ekdikos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Dr. Varvis becomes the first Archon of the Patriarchate in Edmonton.

2004/01/01
Christina Andrews serves as President of the Greek Orthodox Community. She is the first female president of a Greek Community in Canada.

2004/02/15
The Rev. Ioannis Stylianos Kaoukakis is appointed as the ninth full-time parish priest; he is one of the first graduates of the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy. He serves the Community until July 2016.

2016/08/01
The Rev. Charalambos Tzintis is appointed as the tenth full-time parish priest.

2016/09/01
Dr. George Georgiou, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta is appointed cantor-primus (protopsaltis) of the Church. He studied byzantine music under the guidance of Petros Petrou, who was himself a student of the Archon Protopsaltis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Mr. Thrasyvoulos Stanitsas. Dr. G. Georgiou received his diploma in Byzantine Music with distinction from the Music School of Athens. He will serve the Church as its cantor-primus until October 2018.

2016/12/04
Investiture of Professor Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou as Archon Referendarios of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Dr. Tavouktsoglou becomes the second Archon of the Patriarchate in Edmonton. The Service is celebrated by Metropolitan Sotirios and Bishop Ilarion (Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada).

2017/08/27
Fr. Charalambos Tzintis is bestowed the offikion of Economos by Metropolitan Sotirios.

2017/12/31
His Eminence, Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto and all Canada performs the investiture Service appointing professor Dr. George Georgiou to the rank of Protopsaltis (cantor-primus) of the Holy Metropolis of Toronto and all Canada.

2018/05/06
KYKLOS officially dedicates its new wardrobe room in a renovated corner of the church basement.  The room houses over 300 folk costumes and KYKLOS awards/paraphernalia. Minister Sarah Hoffman (Minister of Health) and Kathy Rigakis cut the official ribbon.  Kathy Rigakis is also honoured for her many years of service and support to KYKLOS and the Hellenic costume tradition.

2018/07/03-2018/07/08
KYKLOS completes in the Llangollen International Music Festival in Wales, Great Britain and places 3rd place in the traditional folk category.  In addition, the group performs five shows to audiences from around the world.

2018/01/17
An Ad Hoc Committee is established to investigate the condition of the current church and community building at 10831 – 124 St. NW. Edmonton. It is also mandated to find out the values of the properties both at Jasper Avenue and 124 Street, and to make recommendations about the purchase/acquisition of a new building for the church and community. The committee consists of Mr. Nectarios Stamatakis PEng (chair), Mr. Constantinos (Dino) Loutas PEng, Dr. Demetri Kutsogiannis MD, Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou (convener), Mr. Johnny Sergiannis and others as the need arises.

2018/09/01
The Rev. Andreas Allain is appointed as the eleventh full-time parish priest. He is a graduate of the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy.

2018/11/01
A new Church choir is established. The choir director is Ms. Joyce (Zoe) Sipsas; her daughter, Heidi, is the choir master/conductor. The associate choir director is Christina Andrews (see entry 2004/01/01 above and 2019/02/26 below)

2019/02/26
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto announces a $100,000 donation to the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy by the late Kleoniki (Cleo) Girgulis (Georgulis) nee Barootes of Saskatoon. Cleo grew up in Edmonton and was a student in the first Greek School in 1932. Cleo Girgulis is the mother of Christina Andrews, past president of the G. O. Community of Edmonton (see entry 2004/01/01 above), current treasurer of the Board of Directors, and associate director of the church choir. Christina Andrews together with her sisters Ann Andrews (Edmonton) and Vasilia Kashmarski (Calgary) are also active members of the Daughters of Penelope.

2019/03/10
KYKLOS celebrates its 35th anniversary with an impressive performance at the Timms Centre for the Arts.

References:

  • [*01]    Nicholas Spillios, Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration Program, Edmonton 1995.
  • [*02]    Christopher J. Varvis, Private Communications, Edmonton 2019.
  • [*03]    Christina Andrews, Private Communications, Edmonton 2019.
  • [*04]    Speros Vlassopoulos, Private Communications, Edmonton 2019.
  • [01]      G. D. Vlassis, The Greeks in Canada, 1st edition, Ottawa, 1942, p. 59.
  • [02]      G. D. Vlassis, The Greeks in Canada, 1st edition, Ottawa, 1942, p. 60.
  • [03]      G. D. Vlassis, The Greeks in Canada, 1st edition, Ottawa, 1942, p. 60.
  • [04]      G. D. Vlassis, The Greeks in Canada, 2nd edition, Ottawa, 1953, p. 207.
  • [05]      Rev. D. Rougas, History of the Greek Orthodox Community of St. George’s in Edmonton, Alberta; article in The Orthodox Way, Toronto, November 1986.
  • [06]      New Trail, A University of Alberta Alumni Publication, Edmonton, Spring 2009, p.3.

This timeline of the Community is intended to be continually evolving.
For corrections and for other items to be included in this timeline, please contact: Dr. Athanasios Tavouktsoglou

Note: You may quote at will from this timeline if credit is given to the source.