Croatian Spring

What had begun as a migration towards east Hamilton and Stoney Creek began to take on the appearance of a mass exodus by the early seventies. The CNH's original locale deteriorated and there was a critical need for parking spaces to serve members who no longer lived nearby. In 1970, several properties were investigated but no definite conclusions were reached and the matter was deferred to a future time.


In 1973, the CNH played a major role in the success of the CFU Junior Tamburitza Festival by hosting it in Hamilton, marking the first time that it was held in Canada.


Due to increasing popularity, the tamburitzans faced a busy schedule and their expenses soared as a result. Applications for financial assistance were submitted and the first government grant was received in 1974 from the Ministry of Multiculturalism. The CNH received additional government grants during the 1970s totalling approximately $10,000. Another grant was received from the Carling Community Arts Foundation for $1,000. It was a tremendous boost to our efforts in maintaining and furthering cultural activities.


The CNH endorsed the founding of the Croatian Folklore Federation of Canada. Under the Federation's guidance, the annual Canadian-Croatian Folklore festival has been celebrated in cities across Canada, commencing with Sudbury in 1975. CNH members who played a role in the federation's early years include Joe Lončarich, Mike Bradica, Walter Richard, George Bakarich, Jerry Temkov and Steve Kelemen.


In 1976, the Croatian National Home hosted the second annual Canadian-Croatian Folklore festival and introduced a "tambura Mass" to the festivities. That same year, our senior girls tambura combo was selected by the Ontario Folk Arts Council to represent Ontario at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Their performance showcased Croatian culture to a captive world audience.


Women traditionally played a major, yet quiet role in the success of the CNH. Banquets were usually catered by our female members. Some of them had a natural aptitude towards fine Croatian cooking, notably the late Rose Škuranac. However, during the late seventies, young women and mothers became extremely active in not only continuing their Croatian culinary talents but also in promoting fashion shows, bazaars, penny sales, rummage sales and bake sales in support of our tambura groups. These same women were also responsible for our pavilion at Harvest Trek, an autumn ethnic festival sponsored by the Hamilton Folk Arts Council in the late seventies. Today, women are instrumental to the Dom's varied activities and serve on all committees at the Croatian National Home.


Programmes offered at the Dom evolved. With an increased interest in different sports, the CNH established the Annual Men's Golf Tournament which is the longest running Croatian golf tournament in Canada. Proceeds from this tournament are earmarked for the betterment of the Dom and other charitable causes in Hamilton.


Two memorable events closed off the decade. The first event was a tribute to Joe Lončarich on November 12, 1978, celebrating his many years of dedication and contribution in upholding our tamburitza tradition, while the second event was a graduation held in November 1979 in honour of past graduates and participants in our folklore program.





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