The community of Serbian Canadians includes Canadian citizens of Serb ethnicity (by birth or descent), or people born in Serbia who permanently reside in Canada. Serbs (and Serbians) have migrated to Canada in various waves during the 20th century. The 2011 census recorded 80,320 people declaring as "Serbian", living in Canada.[dead link]
By 1900, Serbs began to arrive in Alberta. Many of these early settlers had migrated north from the north-west region of the United States. Coal mining attracted them to Lethbridge, while road construction was a source of employment for those in Macleod and Cadomin. Many Serbs worked on the construction of railway lines that now extend from Edmonton to the Pacific coast. Others were interned in labor camps as "enemy aliens" simply because they were born under the scepter of Austria-Hungary, an empire at war with the United Kingdom and Serbia during World War I. Luigi von Kunits, who was living and working in Toronto at the time, was one of its victims having to identify himself regularly at the police station throughout the war years.
The period between the two World Wars witnessed a major increase in Serbian immigration to Canada, mostly after the breakup of the Habsburg Empire. More than 30,000 Yugoslavs came to Canada between 1919 and 1939, from the Balkans, Hungary and Romania, this included an estimated 10,000 Serbs. Many of these immigrants were single, working men who had left families in their home country to seek work in Canada. The vast majority of Serbs arriving between the wars settled in Ontario or British Columbia. During this time, ties to Europe were strong and pressure from Belgrade and Ottawa resulted in certain Serbian Canadian newspapers being banned. The banned newspapers were promoting communist ideas and they were mostly written by pro-Russian Yugoslavs who were not necessarily of Serbian origin.
At the time, two Serbian Canadians of distinction made their mark, Luigi von Kunits, the founder of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and James Trifunov, an Olympian athlete who earned medals for Canada.
Major changes occurred in Yugoslavia during World War II. The newly established independent communist government was opposed by many Yugoslavs. Many post war refugees refused to return to their homeland to live under a communist regime. The Serbs, emigrating to Canada at this time, came from a variety of occupational backgrounds, including military and academic professions and the skilled trades. Among them were intellectuals Adam Pribićević, Miloš Mladenović, Montreal surgeon Dr. Dragutin (Drago) Papich, Professor Sava Bosnitch of the University of New Brunswick and president of the Canadian Association of Slavists (in 1972 and 1973).
Officially there were 80,320 persons who identified themselves as wholly or partly "Serbian", living in Canada in 2011. However, this number may be much higher as there are some 65,505 people who identify as Yugoslavs living in Canada, many of whom may be Serbs. The major center of Serbian settlement in Canada is Toronto, which is home to the 3rd largest Serb diaspora population after Vienna and Chicago; the 2006 census showed that the total of ethnic origin responses for Serbian was 25,160 while together with Yugoslav it amounted to a combined total of around 38,000. Other Serbian strongholds include Windsor, Kitchener, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.