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CSL VIPS in new Book

The Legacy Keepers: Unveiling the Untold Stories of CSL Leaders

By Ondrej Miháľ

In my research for “The Legacy Keepers,” book I delved into the archives of the Canadian Slovak League, meticulously examining newspapers, historical records, and books. My goal was to illuminate the lives of the visionary individuals who shaped the CSL into the premier fraternal organization it became in Canada.

The task was no small feat. Over 80 VIPs contributed to their communities, leaving an indelible mark on both the organization and Slovaks in Canada. Some were unsung heroes, quietly working behind the scenes. Others met untimely ends; their stories lost to the passage of time. And then there were those whose humble deeds—though significant—remained largely unrecorded, except within the walls of their local branches, organizations or family archives.

The backdrop of Slovak immigration to Canada adds depth to this narrative. Initially, migrants arrived with plans to earn money and return to Slovakia before 1939. However, circumstances shifted dramatically after World War II. Refugees fleeing Communism found themselves in Canada, where they unexpectedly recreated a microcosm of the Slovak community they had left behind. They organized Legion halls, established churches, and formed dance troupes. In doing so, they forged a sense of identity and community spirit.

Within the CSL, equality prevailed. Every member’s contribution was acknowledged, regardless of rank or position. Yet, the existing literature barely scratched the surface on extra ordinary individulas. The few books that were published over time dedicated a maximum of 400 words to CSL founders such as:  Ján Ivan, Feron Zeman, Pavol Blaho, Gabriel Kurdel, Ján Hudák, Stefan Reištetter, Marián Jankovský, Štefan Hreha (Book by Anthony X. Sutherland  - The Canadian Slovak League – A history 1932 – 1982) and further leaders such as Stolarik Imrich and Mark, Žigmund Doboš, Ján Eliáš, Irich Fuzy, Štefan Jesenák, Andrej Kučera, Eduard Oravec, Andrej Potocký, Ján Rekem, Juraj Rondoš, Peter Suffák, Jozef Tokár and Ján Dvorsky (book by Imrich Stolárik – Spomienky pionierov – Pioneer recollections).

However, the remaining 60 CSL leaders—often overlooked—deserve recognition. Their life stories often emerged only through newspaper obituaries, offering brief glimpses into their remarkable deeds. “The Legacy Keepers” rectifies this oversight. Biographies of these unsung heroes take center stage, shedding light on their contributions. Over the nearly 100-year history of fraternal life in Canada, not all leaders have left a positive mark on the organization or the Slovak community. Greatness eluded many due to their moral or intellectual failures, and they have been omitted from this book despite any earlier praise.  Time is not always kind to everyone

Each biography, succinctly presented in less than 600 words, invites readers to compare the deeds of one VIP to another. While families might seem like a rich source of material, the truth surprises us. The next generation often fails to fully appreciate the significance of their famous ancestors’ actions. It’s a poignant realization—one that underscores the impermanence of time.

As “The Legacy Keepers” prepares for its small print run of 350 copies, I hope it preserves the legacy of the 120 individuals who shaped Slovaks in Canada. Their stories, woven together, form a tapestry of resilience, sacrifice, and community spirit. This summer, as the book finds its way from Slovakia, we honor their enduring impact.

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