The first substantial immigration of Croatians to Canada occurred 1918-28 prior to the reconstitution of the union of the provinces of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as Yugoslavia (Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia 25 Jun 1991). Most settled in the mining and industrial centres of northern Ontario - Timmins, Schumacher, and Sudbury.
After World War II Croatian tradesmen and professional people began to arrive in Canada, and in 1986 there were 44,175 people of Croatian descent living in Canada, mainly in more southerly or larger urban centres: Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, and especially Toronto and Vancouver. Each of these cities has at least one dance band (in Toronto there are four or five), consisting of accordion, electric guitar, and drums, which plays at weddings and dances and at picnics sponsored by Roman Catholic churches and social and political clubs. The repertoire comprises popular songs in English and Croatian. Usually only two traditional circle dances or kolo - drmš and seljančica - are performed at these social functions.
Over a dozen folkdance groups, many accompanied by an orchestra of tamburicas (long-necked plucked lutes), are active across the country in Croatian communities. One such, the Tamburitzan Ensemble of Hamilton, was formed in 1944 and has performed in Ontario, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Croatian Folklore Federation, founded in 1974 with headquarters in Sudbury, has sponsored annual festivals in different cities, as well as seminars led by Croatian-Canadian experts in the fields of tamburica playing and folksong and dance. Among traditional genres which have survived in Canada are vocal polyphony from the island of Krk and the mountains of Hercegovina, Croatian patriotic songs of the 19th century, and the playing of the Hercegovinian bagpipes (mih).
In 1982 the Sudbury based organization Croatian Schools of America-Australia-Canada-Europe published a book of 120 Croatian songs assembled by Šimun Š. Ćorić, and titled Hrvatske Pjesme as volume 9 of its series of manuals for the study of the Croatian language and culture outside Croatia.
The Croatian-born composer Branimar Vidmar, by trade an engineer, emigrated to Canada in 1955, settling in Timmins, Ont, where he has taught tamburica and organized and directed Croatian choirs. The Croatian-born child-prodigy Hilda Irek, a pianist, studied with Boris Berlin and performed in Toronto before moving to the USA.
In 1988 Croatian Music Fest was held at Roy Thomson Hall. The event included a competition for original Croatian music created and performed by Croatians outside Croatia and was sponsored by the Canadian-Croatian Artist Society.