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One (Wo)man’s Shopping is the Same (Wo)man’s history? Immigration, Advertisement and Consumption Patterns in the Greek community of Montreal 1960s—1970s

Immigration, publicité et modèles de consommation dans la communauté grecque de Montréal dans les années 1960 et 1970
Stavroula Pabst
p. 63-88


La connaissance des habitudes de consommation d’une communauté peut être déduite d’après les publicités quotidiennes comme celles contenues dans les journaux locaux. Pour la communauté grecque de Montréal pendant les années 60 et 70, l’un de ces journaux était le Greek Canadian Tribune (Το Έλληνοκαναδικόν Βήμα). Des attributs courants du journal, tel que l’usage fréquent du grec, suggèrent que le journal faisait partie d’un effort plus large pour maintenir les migrants grecs dans leur communauté nationale imaginaire au cours des années 60 et 70. D’autres publicités, telles que des annonces d’offres d’emploi en usine ou pour de nouveaux appareils ménagers, suggèrent que l’intégration de la communauté grecque dans la société canadienne plus large était aussi à l’œuvre durant la même période au cours des années 60 et 70.

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Notes de l’auteur

This article stems out of research conducted within the Immigrec project hosted at McGill University and funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Texte intégral

1In Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson defines the nation as “an imagined political community”:

[An imagined community is seen as] imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion (ANDERSON 2006, 6).

2According to Anderson, while one cannot know everyone in their “community” of nationality, they often still act as though this is true. And, as communities that are “imagined” to exist, Anderson argues that they have the ability to spread to even the most surprising places, far removed from where a group may have originally been located. For Greeks, one such extension of the imagined community that came into existence in the twentieth century is found in Montreal, Quebec.

3Like other imagined communities, the Greek community of Montreal is a political one: despite the physical distance between Greece and Montreal, Greek-Canadians have a tangible relationship with their homeland. Many members of the Greek-Montreal community have strived to play a role in Greek affairs, such as affairs related to the Greek dictatorship of 1967-74. They often traveled back to Greece, and saw themselves (albeit, often incorrectly) as eventually returning to Greece after working for many years in Canada (GAVAKI 2009, 119). All the while, the Greek state has historically wanted to maintain its ability to affect or otherwise involve its diaspora living abroad in both political and economic affairs; this is a way it can prop up its own relevance, support, and power in the world stage (VENTURAS 2009, 125). The enduring and reciprocal relationship between the transnational Greek diaspora and the Greek state is what makes the Greek community in Montreal political.

4In the twentieth century, over 120,000 Greeks moved to Canada (GAVAKI 2003, 61). Because of the widespread hardships that poverty and war brought to Greece during the first half of the twentieth century, Greeks came to Canada in large numbers, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, to Canada’s larger cities (DOUNIA 2004, 22-3). According to recent census data, about 60,000 Greeks currently live in Montreal (STATISTICS CANADA 2006). Many of these Greeks who came in the mid-twentieth century relied heavily on their community of Greeks in Montreal, as the transition to life in North America was difficult. Facing low wage jobs, discrimination, and language barriers, remaining close with the community and its traditions was often a lifeline.

5Greeks thus relied on each other as much as they could in the cities; nonetheless, economic and social adjustment was difficult. With time, however, Greeks began to acclimate to their new world. While many urban Greeks were still stuck in factory work and service positions that had little chance of advancement by the 1990s, many who were able to obtain higher levels of education were starting to form a middle class of significance in Canada (TAMIS AND GAVAKI 2002, 181-2).

6Although the scholarship illustrates that by 1991, the social integration of the Greeks into their respective communities in Canada was becoming reality, aspects of this integration are not entirely clear. To further evaluate the process of integration, an approach that focuses on consumption may be of use, as consumption can offer perspectives on the every-day lifestyles that Greek immigrants lived.

7Often considered a “key concept” in the social sciences, a large literature exists on the topic of consumption (ALRDIGE 2003, 1). There has also, however, been significant debate on the subject. For much of the mid-twentieth century, pessimistic Marxist analyses of consumption by scholars such as Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer condemned consumer culture and advertising as tools of capitalists, and as such, part of the foundation for economic inequality and exploitation (NAVA 1997, 34-6). In more recent years, however, academics became more invested in how purchasers used the products they bought in their lives: studying “ordinary things,” therefore, became worthwhile (TRENTMANN 2012).

8Ultimately, the drive to learn more about the every-day life is a key reason to study the consumption habits of a given ethnic group. One such way to analyze the consumption habits of Montreal Greeks is through studying relevant advertising that had been catered to the Greek community of Montreal during the time. Advertisements themselves, after all, have their own significance in the realm of consumption studies. In Interpreting Advertisements: A Semiotic Guide, in fact, it is argued that “we live in a world, seemingly, that views shopping as much more than acquiring the essentials for daily living. It is becoming an end in of itself” (DANESI, BRYERS, AND GUDINSKAS 2010, 15).

9While impactful to society on a larger scale, advertising, hand in hand with ethnic newspapers, took on a unique role in shaping immigrant lives in North America throughout the twentieth century. While Benedict Anderson argued that the formation of the press, or “print capitalism,” originally played a unique role in establishing imagined communities (ANDERSON 2006, 65), ethnic newspapers had the ability to help construct the social reality that immigrants lived: in the modern day, such newspapers are therefore an under-utilized type of documentation in terms of understanding the lives and identities of immigrants in North America (VECOLI 1998, 19-23).

10Advertising and consumption, furthermore, are directly related to discussions on social integration of immigrant communities into their host societies. American sociologists in the 1920s, such as Robert Park, even felt that “advertising constituted an effective means of Americanization [for migrant communities], since it would initiate migrants into American ways of life” (LALIOTOU 2004, 138).

11Just as the Italian ethnic press can tell us about the societies Italian-Americans lived in, the advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune (Το Έλληνοκαναδικόν Βήμα), a Greek newspaper founded in Montreal in 1964, can be studied in detail to provide an in-depth look into the lives of Greeks living in Montreal. The Greek Canadian Tribune advertisements, furthermore, can be studied and analyzed in large quantities, as tens of thousands of advertisements are present in the newspaper. Specifically, studying advertisements relevant to the Greek community can suggest what languages the community used and what social circles they prioritized. In other words, because advertisements will tell us something about the consumption patterns of the Greeks of Montreal in large quantities over a long period of time, they can tell us more about the social integration (or lack thereof) of Greeks into their host society, Canada, during the 1960s and 1970s, from many different perspectives. In this specific case, the focus is on Greek immigrants in anglophone Quebec (and especially Montreal, as the paper is based in Montreal), as most Greek-Canadians, in Quebec or otherwise, affiliated more strongly with anglophone Canada (CHIMBOS 1980, 139).

12Therefore, the advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune have been logged with attention focused on topics such as the languages used, gender representations, locations listed, and the types of products and services proposed in the advertisements, so that aspects of Greek consumption in Canada may be illuminated and made available for further study and research. Almost ten years (the years 1964 through 1969, and 1973-74) of The Greek Canadian Tribune have been logged, which means information is available on over 11,000 advertisements.

13Evidence in the newspaper such as its frequent use of Greek, common appeals to shop within the Greek community, travel advertisements for Greece, and the prominence of organizations and events dedicated to preserving Greek social circles and participation in religious institutions, demonstrates that The Greek Canadian Tribune was often part of a larger effort to maintain the Greek migrants within the boundaries of an imagined national community, despite the physical separation of Greeks from their homeland. Other features of advertisements in the newspaper, however, such as advertisements for factory work, advertisements featuring modern household appliances, and women taking on (albeit limited) roles in entrepreneurship, suggest that an integration of the Greek immigrant population into larger Canadian culture was still happening. In the process, the advertisements demonstrate the formation of a unique Geek-Canadian ethnic identity, an identity that has seen the effects of both processes (a maintenance of the imagined community, yet also a process of integration) carried out over an extended period of time.

14Before considering the advertisement data, it is necessary to historicize the Greek-Canadian community within the context of the political situation in Greece at the time, and how it affected Greek communities in Canada. In particular, the Greek-Canadian community found itself divided in its view of the Greek military junta, which ruled Greece from 1967-1974 (PENDAKIS 2018). The Greek Canadian Tribune took a clear stance against the military dictatorship and published many anti-junta messages. Although The Greek Canadian Tribune was against the military dictatorship, the junta created a significant social rift within the Greek communities of Canada, as many other Greeks (especially members of the clergy, who had relative power in the community) did support the dictatorship (CHIMBOS 1980, 91). Understanding this rift is crucial to understanding Greek-Canadian social life; however, information about this division within the community is not something that the politically biased Greek Canadian Tribune can fully provide.

15When one considers the advertisements discussed in this article, therefore, they must understand that these advertisements did not exist within a vacuum, but instead in a community rife with intergenerational differences, economic struggle, and political turmoil.

16After providing a general background on The Greek Canadian Tribune, this article will present a brief data review of the advertisements logged. A qualitative discussion of The Greek Canadian Tribune advertisements will follow to provide the reader a balanced understanding of the research done and of the results produced. For the purpose of brevity, advertisements about entrepreneurial endeavors, as opposed to an overview of all advertisements found in the newspaper, will be the focus of discussion.

About The Greek Canadian Tribune (Το Έλληνοκαναδικόν Βήμα) and Methods of Research

17Started in Montreal in 1964 by its original founders and editors, George Papadakis and Nikos Kalimvitis, The Greek Canadian Tribune is, according to the newspaper’s website, one of the longest running Greek newspapers in Canada. Because the newspaper printed a new issue weekly, and each newspaper issue often had anywhere between twenty-five to sixty advertisements, thousands of advertisements specific to the Montreal Greek community are available for research and cataloging purposes.

18Because there are thousands of advertisements available within the years of The Greek Canadian Tribune that have been digitized, it was important to collect and present the data in a manner that is easy to use. Although deriving information about the consumption habits of the Greek community cannot be done by logging the information of individual advertisements alone, it is therefore an important place to start. For each advertisement, information such as the following is present in the data-logs that have been catalogued and organized by the Immigrec Project at McGill University:

  • The newspaper issue number, date, and page number where the advertisement in question is located.

  • Attributes of the advertisement, such as what language(s) are used in a given advertisement.

  • Information about the focus of the advertisement (what kind of product, business, service, or event is being promoted).

  • The name(s) of the business, service, event, or community organization promoted in the advertisement, and, if available, the names of persons related to the entity (the names of business owners, travel agents, performers, etc.)

  • Any addresses and locations listed in a given advertisement.

  • Other relevant notes, key words (which make the logs of advertisements searchable), and descriptions of any aesthetics, pictures, and photos in a given advertisement.

19With data logged for over 11,000 advertisements, an effective database for the advertising of The Greek Canadian Tribune has been created. The contents of this database, in addition to individual newspaper advertisements, will be the basis of discussion in the remaining portions of this article.

Data Review

20In terms of the general composition of advertisements in the newspaper, there are large amounts of advertisements in The Greek Canadian Tribune specifically related to business endeavors. Of the over 11,000 advertisements logged in total, 3,946 advertisements qualified as service businesses (such as a travel service, or accountant), 2,480 advertisements qualified as promoting merchandising businesses, 227 qualified as dining services (such as a restaurant or patisserie), and 1060 qualified as property services (likely either a real estate business or a land plotting service). Other kinds of common advertisements include travel advertisements (813 advertisements in total), healthcare related advertisements (1047 in total, which includes doctor services, pharmacies and other related advertisements), and finance related advertisements, such as investing and banking services (487 advertisements in total). These entrepreneurial advertisements will be discussed in the remaining portions of this article.

21The vast majority of the advertisements encountered within the newspaper are from local organizations, individuals, and companies that post frequently in the newspaper (often once each week, sometimes even for years on end). Other advertisements are from larger companies, such as national banks or airline companies that post in the newspapers; others who post internationally are often from Greece. It is telling that many Greek entrepreneurs posted advertisements in the newspaper, sometimes to sell properties, or to offer Greek financial services. The Greek businesspersons seeing the Greeks in Canada as an effective audience, and advertising as such, re-enforces the imagined connection between the two parties.

22Sections of personal advertisements where individuals place specific advertisements in the paper, furthermore, are common. These listings often include individual properties for sale or rent, items for sale or rent, and help wanted advertisements (often listed as “requests”), where companies advertise that they need workers. Within the years of advertisements that have been logged, there are 2,192 personal advertisements total. 908 of these advertisements are “help wanted” advertisements, and 663 of these are “factory work” advertisements. In terms of personal listings of real estate, 401 are individual listings for types of housing available (such as apartments, duplexes, and homes) for rent or sale, and 498 are individual listings for businesses for rent or sale.

23In addition to business advertisements and personal advertisements, there are many kinds of events listed in The Greek Canadian Tribune. Many of these events are hosted by Greek associations of some sort, including the following:

  • The Cretan Association (Αλληλοβοηθητικός Σύλλογος Κρητών) (Allilovoithitikos Syllogos Kriton), found in an issue of The Greek Canadian Tribune from February 20, 1965. The organization often hosts dances and parties for the Greeks of Montreal.

  • The Panhellenic “Liberation movement,” ΠΑΚ (Πανελλήνιο Απελευθερωτικό Κίνημα) (Panellinio Apeletherotiko Kinima). In an issue of The Greek Canadian Tribune from October 19, 1973, the anti-military junta organization placed an advertisement about how the leader of the organization had talked with Greek students about the state of international Greek affairs in Italy.

24As suggested by the organizations listed above, while many events are social, others often with organizational, religious, and political purposes, for the community.

  • 1 While 80 advertisements with French appear in 1966, 120 appear in 1974. Moreover, many advertisemen (...)

25The majority of advertisements employ the Greek language in some way (in fact, only slightly over 100 advertisements of the 11,578 advertisements logged have no Greek). There also are many more advertisements with English than French. Although much of the data shows a strong maintenance of the Greek language in advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune, advertisements from later years, such as 1973 and 1974, have a noticeably larger amount of advertisements that employ the French language.1 This data finding is in line with the literature existing regarding Greek comfort levels with English and French in Quebec. Greek Canadians, like most ethnocultural groups in Canada, identified more with Anglophone Canada than French Canada in the 1960s and 1970s (CHIMBOS 1980, 139). This general association with Anglophone Canada is likely because Anglophone Canada, for ethnic groups, was “more closely associated with the mainstream North American culture,” therefore promising better opportunities for incoming immigrants (CHIMBOS 1980, 139).

26As this data review demonstrates, many kinds of advertisements are present in The Greek Canadian Tribune. While many used the newspaper for business and employment related purposes, advertisements about social events and community organizing reveal that many Greeks also used the paper to stay in touch with other locals who had similar interests.

Evidence of a Maintenance of the Imagined Greek Community within the Entrepreneurial Advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune

27While the data review provides a larger understanding of what kinds of advertisements appeared in the newspaper and how often, a quantitative study of the advertisements alone cannot provide sufficient knowledge of the Montreal Greek community’s consumption patterns over time. Rather, aspects of individual advertisements must be examined to make other important considerations, such as an advertiser’s purpose and goals, as well as what incentives a consumer may have to buy from a certain business or service listed in the newspaper.

28Although many different types of advertisements, such as political advertisements, government advertisements, and advertisements for social organizations, frequently advertised in The Greek Canadian Tribune, for the purpose of brevity, the qualitative analysis within this article will focus on one type of advertisement commonly seen in the newspaper, advertisements focused on entrepreneurship.

29As discussed in the data review, advertisements related to entrepreneurship are prominent in The Greek Canadian Tribune. In many cases, however, the entrepreneurship present in The Greek Canadian Tribune in the paper does more than show that Greek Montrealers apparently enjoy shopping. Instead, many advertisements related to entrepreneurship signify an attempt to maintain the imagined connection between the Greek community in Montreal and Greece.

30At first glance, many of the advertisements related to entrepreneurship seem to be made with the Greek community in mind. After all, the majority of businesses in the paper are Greek owned. Often, the owners have names that are Greek in nature, and use primarily the Greek language in their advertisements. Some entrepreneurs also choose business names that make their heritage more obvious to persons both within and outside of the Greek community, such as the real estate companies Delphi realties and Olympia realties, which frequently advertise in The Greek Canadian Tribune.

31In many situations, the advertisements are more explicit in communicating that the community of Greeks in Montreal is their primary audience. Many entrepreneurs, such as realtor Peter Panagiatopoulos in figure 1, refer to the Greek community specifically as their audience in these advertisements with phrases such as “Ομογενείς”. In the context of this advertisement, the word Ομογενείς (Omogeneis) refers to those having Greek descent biologically (VENTURAS 2009, 125-6). Such a term is connected to how the Greek state has historically construed Greeks living abroad as being part of the same homogenous nation, despite the physical distance from the mainland (VENTURAS 2009, 135). In this case, therefore, such a term binds, or attempts to bind, the Greeks in Montreal to the imagined community of Greece in the hopes that Greek clientele may go to Panagiatopoulos for their property-related needs.

Figure 1: A real estate advertisement from Zenith Realties Co. Ltd., featuring the Greek realtor Peter Panagiatopoulos. Found in issue 141 of the Greek Canadian Tribune, published 17 December 1966.

Figure 1: A real estate advertisement from Zenith Realties Co. Ltd., featuring the Greek realtor Peter Panagiatopoulos. Found in issue 141 of the Greek Canadian Tribune, published 17 December 1966.

32Ultimtely, the case of Panagiatopoulos is an example of an advertisement where economic interest mediates and drives interactions within the community. In the process, the connection to Greece is maintained. Like the Panagiatopoulos example, there are also coordinated attempts to have Greeks shop at Greek businesses in the newspaper, such as in the advertisement depicted in figure 2. The advertisement, commonly found in the newspaper in late 1966 and early 1967, is a list of Greek owned businesses, which was compiled for the convenience of the Montreal Greeks. This was done to encourage buying goods within the community.

Figure 2: “Το Πάνθεον των Ελληνικών Καταστημάτων Της Παροικίας μας”: This Greek Canadian Tribune advertisement listing Greek owned businesses was compiled for the convenience of local Greeks, who were often encouraged to shop within the community.

Figure 2: “Το Πάνθεον των Ελληνικών Καταστημάτων Της Παροικίας μας”: This Greek Canadian Tribune advertisement listing Greek owned businesses was compiled for the convenience of local Greeks, who were often encouraged to shop within the community.

33In addition to establishing and addressing the Greek community in their advertisements, some businesses also cater specifically to the needs of the Greek community in The Greek Canadian Tribune. One such business present in the newspaper in the later 1960s, for example, is an establishment which sells products relating to Greek cultural events, such as στέφανα (stefana), the flower crowns worn by the bride and groom during a Greek-Orthodox wedding. While such an advertisement appeals to the interests of an ethnoreligious group, it is also evidence of a maintaining of the imagined national community of the transnational Greek diaspora. To the Greek community, the Greek-Orthodox Church and being Greek are inherently interconnected: even the Greek-Orthodox Church and the development of the Greek state have long gone hand in hand (CHIMBOS 1980, 89). In the case of the Greek community, furthermore, participation in Greek-Orthodox traditions is almost more of a requirement for Greeks outside Greece than it is for mainland Greeks. If one cannot participate in being Greek through the traditional ways in which one partakes in such an institution, such as through citizenship or voting, participation within the nation’s cultural institutions, such as the church, becomes paramount. Such a relationship between participating in Greek-Orthodox religious celebrations and maintaining a bond to the Greek nation as a migrant is explored further in Ioanna Laliotou’s Transatlantic Subjects: Acts of Migration and Cultures of Transnationalism Between Greece and America:

[For Greeks living abroad] religious celebrations constituted the moments when the circularity of migrant life was exposed and reinforced. Religious celebrations referred to the symbolic order of the homeland. This re-inscription of this order—the Old World regulation of collective time—at the site of Ameriki exposed the impossibilities of migrant life and the temporality that characterized migrant life as such. The division between laboring time and celebration time, and the manifestation of this division in different cultural forms, constituted the primary means by which Greek migrants in the United States conceptualized themselves as distinct part of the Greek nation (LALIOTOU 2004, 107).

34While this example centers the experiences of Greek-Americans, much of Laliotou’s argument is applicable to Greek-Canadians, who are similarly dedicated to celebrating Greek-Orthodox holidays, as advertisements such as the one selling flower-crowns demonstrates.

  • 2 A travel advertisement in issue 51 of The Greek Canadian Tribune from 1965 offers specific packages (...)

35Like the example of the business selling flower crowns, many travel related advertisements in The Greek Canadian Tribune also work towards the preservation of the connection between the Greek immigrant community and Greece itself through reminding Greek-Canadians of their homeland and their ability to return to it. While many travel advertisements are about tourism and travel reservations in general, there are often advertisements from airliners, ocean liners and travel agents which specify deals one can take to Greece in particular. This is especially true for times such as Christmas and Easter in the newspaper, where some travel agents and companies offer special holiday packages for trips to Greece.2 By repeating that there is a desire and ability for Greeks to be able to revisit their homeland, these travel advertisements, intentionally or otherwise, reinforce the bond the Greeks of Montreal have with their country of origin.

  • 3 The advertisement for matchmaking was placed in The Greek Canadian Tribune seven times in the year (...)

36Although an uncommon advertisement,3 advertisements for Greek matchmaking events from the business “Ο Δρόμος Της Ευτυχίας», or the “Road of Happiness” also suggest a desire to preserve the Greek community. Such advertisements attempt to reinforce the longevity of the community by encouraging Greeks to marry fellow Greeks in the area. When considering the existing literature on endogamy within the Canadian Greek community, it is understandable that this kind of advertisement was present in the newspaper. The Greeks living in Canada were largely endogamous in the 1960s and 1970s: according to a survey that had been done in Thunder Bay, Ontario, seventy-three percent of Greek families voiced opposition to a child marrying someone non-Greek, in comparison to fifty-two percent of Slovaks and eleven percent of Dutch immigrants in the same survey. While Greek Montrealers were not included in this particular survey, they voiced similar sentiment in opposing inter-ethnic marriages (CHIMBOS 1971, 5-16).

37Finally, many persons and businesses that advertise in The Greek Canadian Tribune do so frequently. Such behavior is particularly prevalent within the annual Christmas issue of the paper, where many community members and families place postings with holiday greetings. Greetings in issues such as the Christmas issue (as depicted in figure 3) show that many Greeks who post in the newspaper are driven by the need to create a sense of community, where frequent readers are likely to understand who is prominent, and who they can go to in times of need. Such a need to establish community is illustrated within the literature: for the Greek immigrants in Canada, especially within the early stages of adjustment, an “[i]gnorance of Canadian languages, residential segregation, lack of free time and economic inability ma[de] the Greek family extremely culture-centered and highly integrated” within their own ethnic enclaves (GAVAKI 1979, 12).

Figure 3: Advertisements from The Greek Canadian Tribune's December 1973 holiday issue. While both advertisers promote their business, they take the time to wish their community a happy holiday season, complete with related artwork.

Figure 3: Advertisements from The Greek Canadian Tribune's December 1973 holiday issue. While both advertisers promote their business, they take the time to wish their community a happy holiday season, complete with related artwork.

38The kind of roles many Greeks were trying to create in the newspaper for themselves can be explained, at least in part, by the work of Pierre Bourdieu. For those who repeatedly place advertisements, in fact, the newspaper may also be a place where one can reinforce what Bourdieu considers social capital: their support networks, which are based on one’s membership within certain institutions, one’s friends, and other contacts, within the community (BOURDIEU 2006, 51). As Bourdieu comments, “Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier” (BOURDIEU 1984, 6). Thus, elite status, as Bourdieu argues, is something elites actively work to portray and maintain in public spaces (FOWLER 1997, 47-48). As the frequent placements of advertisements and paid messages by the same families suggest, many members in the Greek community of Montreal with some amount of social status wanted to establish themselves in this same manner, and they saw placing regular and consistent advertisements in the paper as a way of establishing their status in a meaningful way. Such behavior, especially the tendency to place advertisements on a repeated basis, re-enforced the imagined connection to Greece as they maintained the social and economic bonds between Greek immigrants living in Montreal.

39It appears, furthermore, that many who were prominent in the community utilized the paper to gain publicity. For example, Δημήτριος Μανώλακος (Dimitrios Manolakos) has advertisements about his status as a notary almost every week in certain years of the newspaper (Μανώλακος placed 43 notary advertisements in the 1976 newspapers alone). It is hard to imagine that this notary service is extremely profitable; however, Manolakos is present in the community in other ways. In 1975, there is an advertisement that appears with him and other individuals who are prominent in the newspaper advertisements, such as Φιλίππος Μαρούλης (Fillipos Maroulis, a notary and colleague of Manolakos), and Βασιλέος Παπαχρήστου (Vasileos Papachristou, a lawyer). As members of the Greek community of Montreal, they are running for office together to focus on issues specific to the Greeks (such as building a nursing home for members of the Greek community), likely being able to utilize their prevalence in the community, which they have re-enforced through advertisements in the paper over a period of time, in obtaining public support to run. In such an example, they have used their connection to Greece to gain prominence in their new community, while maintaining the connection between the community and Greece through policy proposals that center their Greek identities in a new environment.

40As these individual advertisements demonstrate, the advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune acted as a medium through which the Greeks of Montreal interacted with one another. They also acted as a medium through which the Montreal Greek community’s imagined connection to their homeland, the country of Greece, was maintained. Although done for different reasons, the different kinds of entrepreneurship in The Greek Canadian Tribune therefore reveal a desire by the individuals and businesses who post them to express and emphasize their connections to their imagined community, the transnational diaspora of Greeks.

Integration of the Montreal Greeks into larger Canadian Society, as depicted by the Entrepreneurial Advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune

41Although many advertisements in The Greek Canadian Tribune represent the desire of Greeks in Montreal to preserve a sense of connection to their homeland (despite the community’s physical separation from the country of Greece), other advertisements reveal that the Montreal Greek community was often pulled in the direction of integration into larger Canadian society. Arguably, the advertisements demonstrate the slow creation of a Greek-Canadian ethnic with different characteristics from the Greeks of the mainland.

42It is important to acknowledge that many Greeks who immigrated to Canada after the Second World War were not wealthy. Many came from small villages, where they were often used to an agricultural lifestyle. The persons interviewed for Margarita Dounia’s MA Thesis, Your Roots Will Be Here, Away From Your Home. Migration of Greek Women to Montreal, 1950-1980, for example, came from different regions of Greece, most of them from Peloponnesus, the southern part of Greece, which is considered to be the poorest, most infertile and arid” (DOUNIA 2004, 30).

43One of the major factors for those leaving Greece after World War II was the inability of Greek rural villages to sustain growing families and an expanding Greek population. With time, the expanse of economic collapse in even the well-off villages meant that for many Greeks, immigration was the only solution (DOUNIA 2004, 22-4). Thus, many Greeks, upon moving to Canada, were placed under desperate circumstances significantly different than their old lives in Greece. Without money or a respectable social status, many Greeks who moved to Canada had to prioritize survival over living comfortably. Under such stresses, the community was often forced to adapt to survive, even if that meant integrating further than some of them may have been comfortable with.

44Ultimately, many advertisements in The Greek Canadian Tribune reflect the realities of having this relatively poor audience. Many products being advertised in The Greek Canadian Tribune are standard items and services needed for everyday life, such as healthcare products and services, clothing shops, or furniture. Others, however, seem to reflect an embrace of the somewhat higher standard of living that had become available to Greeks in Canada, even though Greeks who came to Montreal often did not have much money. After all, the immigration of many Greeks to Canada and the post-war economic boom in North America happened at the same time.

45Some of this apparent embrace of western technology can be explained by Canada’s attempt to “westernize” some of its immigrants, and particularly its domestic women workers, to fit Canada’s ideas about what motherhood should be (MINA 2013, 515). According to Noula Mina, the single Greek women recruited by the Canadian government to become domestic servants were given training courses in English for two to four months while still in Greece (MINA 2013, 525). Additionally, they were given lessons in “modern” housekeeping so that they could, as newly made western women, best assimilate into Canada and its middle-class luxuries (MINA 2013, 525).This kind of westernization training women went through often seems all too perfect for some of the ads in The Greek Canadian Tribune. Advertisements for household appliances (such as one depicted in Figure 4), televisions, and other related products, after all, are common in The Greek Canadian Tribune, where many kinds of modern appliances are advertised. The store Electra TV, which sold various household appliances and furniture, for example, appears over 330 times in the advertisements.

Figure 4: This advertisement for "Η Ελβετική Αγορά," or the "Swiss Market," from December 9, 1967, issue 190, features many modern household appliances in time for Christmas. The advertisement even features a movie player!

Figure 4: This advertisement for "Η Ελβετική Αγορά," or the "Swiss Market," from December 9, 1967, issue 190, features many modern household appliances in time for Christmas. The advertisement even features a movie player!

46Why were these kinds of advertisements so common? This apparent embrace of new products can, at least in part, also be explained by some of the existing literature on Canadian consumption. “Toward a Canadian Consumer History,” for example, explores the potential impact of various political ideologies on the consumption habits of Canadians. In the article, Belisle argues that liberalism helped to popularize and increase mass consumption by the general Canadian population, even under times of economic stress:

Liberalism may have further influenced consumption in the sense that some Canadians might have viewed shopping for, purchasing, and using certain commodities as liberating. Certainly, this view is one that advertisers promote endlessly, but it is also one that might have had special meaning for some socially- and economically-marginalized members of advanced capitalist societies…many Western women and men have used consumption as an avenue of self-creation, self-performance, and escape from the confines of everyday life (BELISLE 2003, 192).

47While Belisle does not focus on the Greek community in this statement or in the article, the last part of the quote, the idea that consumption could be liberating particularly to marginalized communities, is especially applicable to the Greek community in Canada. After all, Greeks have historically seen themselves as “individualistic in their interpersonal connections” (GAVAKI 1979, 7). For the Greeks in particular, it seems that embracing newer products was a sort of way to “escape the confines of everyday life.”

48Finally, another distinction between Greek-Canadians and their mainland counterparts is reflected in general Greek-Canadian attitudes towards entrepreneurship. Greek-Americans started small-businesses in high numbers; in the process of striving to become successful in such a risky endeavor, their businesses became a central, if not, the central, focal point in their lives (MAVRATSAS 1995, 99-100). In time, mainland Greeks learned to recognize such a transformation in Greek-Americans: the latter became more hardworking because such toil was more likely to pay off and lead to an increase in social mobility, thus leading to the creation of a unique Greek-American identity that had distinct economic behaviors (MAVRATSAS 1995, 107). A similar attitude is demonstrated in Greek-Canadian families: “from the beginning of their settlement in Canada, the competitive-minded Greek-Canadians showed strong involvement in the business world” (CHIMBOS 1980, 46). This difference in entrepreneurial practice, no doubt developed by Greek-Canadians (like their American counterparts) in the process of adjusting to life in Canada, is something that creates distance and difference between mainland Greeks and their Greek-Canadian counterparts: in becoming something of the affluent Greek migrant merchant that the mythology had upheld (LALIOTOU 2004, 107), Greek-Canadians developed unique character traits that their mainland counterparts did not have.

49Ultimately, these advertisements depict the Greeks’ changing consumer preferences over time: unlike the advertisements discussed in the previous section, they do not prioritize connections to Greece, but instead prioritize aspects of the world Greeks now have access to in Canada.

Gender Roles

50As Greece has long been known as a patriarchal society with traditional gender roles, one may expect this to be reflected in The Greek Canadian Tribune. The roles of women in society derived from the advertisements in the paper, however, suggest a more complicated situation. In fact, the gender roles in the newspaper reveal some level of integration of Greek women into larger Canadian society, thus establishing a gendered Greek-Canadian identity.

51Conceptualizations and mythologies of a nation are often gendered: Greek representations of migration are no exception. Ultimately, depictions of women as “mothers of the nation” were prominent in early representations of Greek migration in storytelling; immigration, on the other hand, was largely seen as a male phenomenon (LALIOTOU 2004, 111). Despite such perceptions, many Greek women were individually choosing to come to North America, either with their families or on their own (DOUNIA 2004, 2).

52Such an illustration of Greek gender roles is present within Canadian-centered scholarship: Gavaki explains that the father in an early Greek-Canadian family was a “figure of authority to be feared and respected.” Meanwhile, the wife and mother was depicted as subservient and willing to sacrifice for the well-being of the family (GAVAKI 1979, 7).

53With time, such gender roles would be challenged in Canada. Because the Post-World War II era was a difficult economic period in Montreal, many women in the city, Greek or not, had to work outside the home (FAHRNI 2005, 38-9). This advancement in the workplace (though Greek women were heavily exploited in the process), which led more to a new autonomy for women away from the home, was often frowned upon by male counterparts, who saw their status as the breadwinner to be challenged by women taking on new careers (DOUNIA 2004, 71-2). With time, women in the workforce took on more active roles in public life, and some even participated in leftist labor movements in Montreal (FAHRNI 2005, 147). One such movement was centered around the idea of “household politics,” in which Montreal locals, including many women, worked to make issues of the household more public than in previous times (FAHRNI 2005, 109).

54Unfortunately, immigrant women, such as the Greek and Italian women of Montreal, were not well connected to the whole of women’s labor organizing in the city (RICCI 2015, 217). Such lack of connection is reflected in the advertisements, as there are few advertisements related to labor organizing, let alone women’s labor organizing, present in The Greek Canadian Tribune whatsoever.

55Still, the reality of women working outside the home (and therefore, having more autonomy within the public realm) is also reflected in the newspaper, as advertisements for factory work in the personal advertisements sections of the newspapers often target both men and women. Sometimes in such advertisements, women are even the sole target audience. As a reflection of more traditional gender roles, however, women are also often requested in advertisements for housekeeping, babysitting, or tutoring and domestic service.

  • 4 There are many unique psychics, all women, who have posted in the newspaper: in a given year, aroun (...)

56Although the advertisements demonstrate that women were in demand for work in Montreal, they also reveal that some women did play a part in entrepreneurship, even if it is limited: we see women’s entrepreneurship most frequently in fortune telling in the advertisements, in fact. Advertisements from (all women) fortune tellers appeared 191 times amongst the newspapers of The Greek Canadian Tribune!4 In cases of women taking up work often attributed to men in the advertisements, one woman has been listed as a real estate agent, several have been listed as travel agents, and another, a woman named Δώρα Σμίθ (Dora Smith), was listed as a local commissioner of oaths in several advertisements from 1967. Ultimately, a study of these advertisements tells us that while many Greek women in Montreal likely led lives according to the gender roles they knew, circumstances often gave an opportunity (and even demanded) for them leave the home and live lives that more closely resembled the lives their Canadian women counterparts were living.

57Ultimately, men’s inability to make living wages, and women’s ability to have a greater role in the public sphere, meant that long-established Greek gender roles could no longer remain. While mainland-Greeks throughout the time period had seen challenges to their traditional notions of sex-roles, Greek-Canadians found themselves facing unique challenges in Canada that they did not see in Greece and had to adjust accordingly, thus contributing to the establishment of a unique and gendered Greek-Canadian identity that was distinct from the traditional gender roles of mainland Greece.

Conclusions and Considerations for Future Research

58While a large body of literature has sought to examine the process of adjustment for Greek immigrants coming to Canada in the mid-to-late twentieth century, the logging of thousands of advertisements from The Greek Canadian Tribune provides a unique resource in studying the every-day lives that the Greeks of Montreal lived.

59The advertisements of the newspaper suggest that the Greeks of Montreal certainly enjoyed spending time with one another, as they enjoyed supporting local Greek businesses. Other advertisements may remind readers that Greeks often wanted to maintain the use of the Greek language and return to their homeland. As this article demonstrates, much of this can be directly observed through the entrepreneurial advertisements of The Greek Canadian Tribune: while many advertisements make more traditional references to Greece, other advertisements are clearly influenced by Canadian society in one way or another. While individual advertisements in the newspaper are not necessarily enough to measure the integration of the Greek people into Canadian life, viewing and logging the data of over ten-thousand advertisements has served to create a larger picture. This larger picture that results is a complex one.

60Ultimately, the situation of the Montreal Greeks is a situation where a maintained connection to Greece can be preserved and prevail, even though the community, in one way or another, finds itself at the same time growing closer to and more like its (mostly Anglophone) Canadian surroundings: this is demonstrated in the increased use of both French and English in later editions of the newspaper, advertisements that depict women adapting to the realities of having a more public life, and the many advertisements that rely upon modern Canadian appliances and products to do business. The advertisements tell us that both subjectivities (frameworks through which one is understand their identity, or selfhood) not only are true, but also that they can happen at the same time.

61In consideration of such a complicated answer, previous and future research can help discuss a further question: did the two modes of subjectivity (one subjectivity centered around maintenance of the imagined community, and the other subjectivity centered around a process of societal integration) demonstrated in the newspaper advertisements co-exist in relative harmony?

62Or did such subjectivities, when positioned alongside one another, have the tendency to clash? This is where other kinds of research, past and present, on the Greek-communities of Quebec and Canada become important, as such subjectivities can be analyzed more properly on an individual level.

63Depending on the personal experiences and sociological trajectories of Greek-Canadian individuals, such subjectivities may co-exist peacefully: in other words, an individual may be able to personally enjoy their connections to Greece in addition to economic advantages that they may have gained through moving to Canada. For other individuals, however, such subjectivities may be at odds with one another. On one hand, some individuals may leave their connections with the Greek community entirely, seeing little reason to stay within the Greek community; on the other hand, others may over invest in Greek political issues more than even their mainland counterparts, as they are unable to participate in Greek political affairs as fully as mainland Greek citizens. Therefore, this issue may be, and in some cases, has already been, considered further through personal memoirs or interviews from Greek-Canadian immigrants and their descendants about their lived experiences, as this is where such subjectivities are most observable.

64Hopefully, this project can give back to the community of Montreal, the city in which its findings are so thoroughly based. In particular, it is my hope that this research gives back to Montreal’s Greek community. While some aspects of the Greek community of Montreal, according to Benedict Anderson, are imagined because the community is physically far removed from the country of Greece, the impact this research may have for individuals in the community looking to know more about their roots is quite real.

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The Greek Canadian Tribune (Το Έλληνοκαναδικόν Βήμα). Issues 1-585, Volumes 1-13. Accessed Fall 2018.

“Who We Are.” BHMA.NET: The Greek Canadian Tribune, Since 1964. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.

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1 While 80 advertisements with French appear in 1966, 120 appear in 1974. Moreover, many advertisements from 1973-4 have whole sentences or paragraphs in French.

2 A travel advertisement in issue 51 of The Greek Canadian Tribune from 1965 offers specific packages to go back to Greece for Easter.

3 The advertisement for matchmaking was placed in The Greek Canadian Tribune seven times in the year 1964.

4 There are many unique psychics, all women, who have posted in the newspaper: in a given year, around five psychics will contribute five to ten advertisements. Most fortune tellers do not post in the newspaper for consecutive years, hinting that their business may not be as steady or as consistent as other businesses that post in the newspaper almost every week.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: A real estate advertisement from Zenith Realties Co. Ltd., featuring the Greek realtor Peter Panagiatopoulos. Found in issue 141 of the Greek Canadian Tribune, published 17 December 1966.
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Titre Figure 2: “Το Πάνθεον των Ελληνικών Καταστημάτων Της Παροικίας μας”: This Greek Canadian Tribune advertisement listing Greek owned businesses was compiled for the convenience of local Greeks, who were often encouraged to shop within the community.
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Titre Figure 3: Advertisements from The Greek Canadian Tribune's December 1973 holiday issue. While both advertisers promote their business, they take the time to wish their community a happy holiday season, complete with related artwork.
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Titre Figure 4: This advertisement for "Η Ελβετική Αγορά," or the "Swiss Market," from December 9, 1967, issue 190, features many modern household appliances in time for Christmas. The advertisement even features a movie player!
Fichier image/png, 499k
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Stavroula Pabst, « One (Wo)man’s Shopping is the Same (Wo)man’s history? Immigration, Advertisement and Consumption Patterns in the Greek community of Montreal 1960s—1970s »Études canadiennes / Canadian Studies, 86-1 | 2019, 63-88.

Référence électronique

Stavroula Pabst, « One (Wo)man’s Shopping is the Same (Wo)man’s history? Immigration, Advertisement and Consumption Patterns in the Greek community of Montreal 1960s—1970s »Études canadiennes / Canadian Studies [En ligne], 86-1 | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2020, consulté le 23 mai 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Stavroula Pabst

Stavroula Pabst is a Master’s student in the history department at McGill University. At McGill, she is a participant of the ImmiGrec project, where she focuses on the consumption patterns of the Greek community of Montreal. Previously, Stavroula graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. in History and Modern Greek and a minor in Russian. In her free time, Stavroula enjoys international politics, comedy writing, and improv.

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