New Beginnings

The CNH enthusiastically welcomed the eighties and in particular, the celebration of the Dom's 50th anniversary. On November 8, 1980 a special tambura Mass was celebrated at Holy Cross Church. Following Mass, cocktails and a dinner catered by Ivanka Čerić were served.


Members continued to plan for a move to a new location. Land had been purchased in the late seventies but it proved to be an unsuccessful venture due to significant financial constraints. Instead, members looked for a more reasonable option and purchased our present location on Barton Street in Hamilton for approximately $125,000 with a mortgage rate of 11% interest. Despite the significant volunteer labour devoted to the renovation and expansion of our new facility, contractors were required. Total costs topped $200,000 and while a portion of the costs came through government grants, members assisted through personal loans or donations. In total, 29 families donated amounts ranging from $300 to $3000 while 50 families loaned $1000 to the CNH payable over a 5 year period.


February 22, 1981 marked the end of an era in CNH history as members gathered to formally bid farewell to their beloved Dom on Beach Road. Joe Lončarich and his Bećar Tamburtizans serenaded the crowd while the senior group put on an impromptu performance of "Lepa Anka kolo vodi". Mary Bradica baked a farewell cake and Steve Kelemen and Mike Jurinčić donated a gallon of liquor as a raffle prize. The winner was Jerry Temkov who promptly opened and shared it with the guests as a final farewell tribute to the old hall.


While catered functions would continue to be held at the old hall for the next while, tambura practices soon commenced at the new location. Sadly however, on November 8, 1981, the new Hall was vandalized and a number of priceless tamburas were destroyed. The final cost of the damage topped $10,000!


The much anticipated Grand Opening of the new CNH was celebrated on December 4, 1982 as the ribbon was officially cut and Monsignor Stjepan Šprajc blessed the new Hall. Members enjoyed the first meal in their new home. Music was provided by the Bećar Tamburitzans. The most generous donors were given the honour of being named Kum and Kuma of the new Hall and this honour went to Janko and Doris Stojčić.


Our Parents Committee strived to ensure that the kids had pleasant and memorable experiences and so, outings were arranged to take the kids skating and bowling. Participation in community events called for the dedicated moms to bake and donate their cakes, cookies and cabbage rolls at various bazaars. Through penny sales, bake sales, rummage sales and other fundraising activities, the Hall was able to purchase the first authentic Croatian costumes for the senior group. At a cost of $100 each, 20 Posavina costumes were purchased through Hrvatska Matica Iseljenika in Croatia. With the further aid of another government grant, funds were raised to purchase a set of female costumes from the Baranja region at a cost of $4500. These were the modest beginnings of our now extensive collection of costumes from various regions of Croatia.


The CNH's fundraising events were not limited to its own interests and activities. Over the years, despite limited financial resources, the CNH contributed to other charitable causes. One of the first events held in the new hall was a fundraiser in March 1983 to provide a wheelchair for Danny Kos. Through the years, the CNH has contributed to community causes such as the Christmas Tree of Hope and the McMaster Children's Hospital.


With successive generations of children learning tambura at the Dom, it was only natural that adults would wish to rekindle their past experiences, or for those rookies brave enough for the challenge, learn to play tambura. The Croatian National Home therefore established "Lado", Canada's first adult tambura ensemble in 1981, with Joe Lončarich, Mike Lončarich and Ed Bradica serving as directors. In its affiliation with the CNH, this group travelled to festivals across Canada, the United States and Croatia.


The year 1983 was a milestone in terms of cultural exchanges. Our senior group participated in the national Canadian-Croatian Folklore Festival in Sudbury, which included groups from across Canada, the United States and Europe. One such group from Oslip, Burgenland, Austria took part in the festival. Members of the group were billeted with CNH families who then organized a concert featuring these fine musicians. These tamburitzans, descendants of Croats who moved to Austria some 450 years ago, were an inspiration to those of us committed to the preservation of Croatian culture in Canada.


New facilities permitted the development of a catering service at the CNH in 1983. Walter Richard was selected as our first catering manager and was succeeded by Carol Jurinčić. She was followed by Nada Richard however Carol Jurinčić resumed the role again in 1990 and has now been succeeded by Diane Žubrinić. The proceeds of the catering business permitted the Dom to hire an office clerk in 1984. Mary Miller and Miro Piršić served in the role which is now fulfilled by Nada Poklečki.


In 1984 and 1985 the CNH sponsored The Festival of Croatian Songs. The event was a competition for composers, lyricists, instrumental groups and vocalists from all over North America. A number of CNH tamburaši including Michael Bakarich, Paul Mrežar, Randy Pocrnick, Joe Povrženich, Lori Lončarich, Brian Kelemen, Ed Bradica, Peter Dragozet and Dražen Jozić participated in the event as performers and/or composers. Orders for tapes and records came from as far away as Switzerland. Our senior group released its first album "Primi ove ruže" in 1984, which was also well received.


 The Croatian National Home embarked on a concert tour of Croatia in 1985. The two-week tour took the group to Zagreb, Markuševac, Plitvice, Ozalj, Kraljevica, Novi Vinodolski, Opatija, Labin, Bled, Varaždin and Marija Bistrica. Of all the performances, the most outstanding was our participation in the annual Smotra Folklora, an international folklore festival held in Zagreb.


A continuing effort was made to recognize the dedication and hard work of the ever-growing number of tamburaši and so the CNH organized a second Graduation Night in 1986 to honour the most recent group graduates from the music program. Linda Boich and George Richard were the valedictorians at this event.


The eighties were a decade where the CNH made a name for itself in the Hamilton and Stoney Creek communities. The groups participated in events such as the Festival of Friends in Gage Park, Stoney Creek Flag Day and the Hamilton Santa Claus Parade. In 1984, the organization participated in a parade to celebrate Ontario's bicentennial. The CNH was also involved in other multicultural events organized by the Hamilton Folk Arts Council. During this decade, the CNH hosted many guest tamburitza groups, including those from Cokeburg, Cleveland, Detroit, Duquesne and Welland.


In February 1987, the CNH hosted a performance by the Tamburitzans of Duquesne University. In May, the CNH participated in the Canadian-Croatian Folklore Festival where our senior group was able to interact with Croatians from coast to coast. One month later the CNH participated in "Croatian Spectacular", a celebration of 400 years of Croatian music. Our senior group, along with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bach-Elgar Choir performed in this memorable event.


Other memorable trips during the late eighties include trips to Ottawa, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Cokeburg.


In 1989, the CNH participated in demonstrations protesting against the Yugoslav Supreme Court ruling that the Croatian language was neither "constitutional" nor an official language in the country.




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