A Tradition of Craftsmanship: How a return to Greece helped Peter find work in Canada
Image 5.1 Yukon Fur Co., Spadina Ave. Courtesy S. Read, 2016
Connections to the Fur Trade
When Peter was in his late teens, his father decided it was time for him to learn a trade and start working to help support the family. Peter, along with his family, moved back to Greece where he learned the craft of making fur garments in Kastoria.
Upon returning to Toronto, Peter continued to hone his trade and apprenticed at Greek owned “Electra Furs Limited”, located at Dundas and Bloor. Eventually, Peter bought a commercial sewing machine and opened his own business, “Furever Yours Fur”. Peter eventually closed his business due to the decline in demand for fur products in Toronto.
Although the Danforth was home to many Greek businesses, many Greek-owned fur companies set up shop in the fashion district on Spadina Avenue, such as Yukon Fur Co., which has been operating in the area for over 40 years.
Image 5.2 Kastoria. Courtesy of Google Maps, 2016.
Kastoria: Traditions in Fur
Kastoria is a city and region located in northern Greece that has been part of the fur manufacturing industry for over two thousand years and as a result, has an international reputation for producing exceptional fur garments. This reputation for excellence is the reason why Peter returned to the region to learn his trade, but opportunities for better business growth outside of Greece influenced Peter’s decision to return to Canada.
Being Greek and having learned the trade in Kastoria helped Peter to find a job apprenticing in a Greek-owned furrier upon his return to Toronto. Many Greek furriers migrated to major cities around the world, including Toronto in the 1950s and 1960s, with most shops employing family members and working with Associations to ensure communal prosperity.
How does Peter’s story challenge the narrative that people move to Canada to get a better education?
How can skills acquired from other countries benefit the Canadian economy?
Are there ways that we can make it easier for people to use these skills when they move here?
Kastoria is divided into three municipalities: Kastoria, Orestia, and Nestorio, the region from which Peter was born. When Peter returned to Greece, he spent time in Nestorio learning the fur trade.
The Kastoria Fur Traders Association is an important network and organization of Greek fur traders. There are associations located in most major cities, including Toronto.