According to the 1991 census, there were 5,820 immigrants born in Thailand; 2,900 whose first language spoken at home was the Thai language; and 2,770 who claimed that they were of Thai ethnic origin. The larger figure for immigrants is explained by the fact that a certain number are likely ethnic Chinese and perhaps Lao from Thailand. Thai couples and small groups have settled primarily in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
There are substantially more Thai women than men in the country (1,775 women and 480 men). While most are professionals, students, or have married Canadian men, there are occasional instances of young women entering the country as artists and entertainers, or as visitors who become night-club dancers or seamstresses in illegal enterprises.
Thai immigrants to Canada are primarily well-educated professionals working as bankers, dentists, doctors, nurses, computer technicians, engineers, and in business. Generally, they have been economically successful in Canada and have contributed to the Canadian economy. More recently, young Thai women have entered the country to perform childcare as nannies, and they face very different economic problems.
The Thai Community Association of British Columbia, formed in 1986, is officially registered as a community organization. It sponsors a variety of events, offers Thai language classes when there is a need, and produces newsletters in Thai at irregular intervals. Another group, the Friends of Thailand, formed in 1988, is open to interested non-Thai Canadians, although its members also include many Thai with Canadian spouses. Its goal is to help Canadians understand and appreciate Thai culture.
In Toronto, about ten families formed the Thai Association of Canada in 1983, but they soon reduced their mandate to Ontario. The group organizes social events, such as summer picnics and New Year’s parties, and arranges for Thai language classes. The Thai Buddhist Association, which has been meeting informally for many years, is dedicated to maintaining the Thai Buddhist tradition in Canada. In 1993 it purchased a building on the outskirts of Toronto and dedicated the Thai Buddhist Yanviriya Temple.