Anti-Greek Riots in Toronto


One of the Greek-owned cafes destroyed in the riots, pictured before its destruction.

August 3 1918, Toronto–For the first few years of the war, Greece had been effectively treated as an enemy in the Allied press; their King was the Kaiser’s brother-in-law, they had surrendered parts of their territory to the Central Powers without a fight, and they had even fired on Allied troops.  Greece’s posture changed in the summer of 1917 when the Allies ousted King Constantine and Venizelos was returned to head the government of a reunited Greece, but the impression that the Greeks were pro-German remained in many Allied countries.

On August 1, a wounded veteran, Claude Cludernay, was ejected from a Greek-owned restaurant on Yonge Street in Toronto and arrested after striking a waiter; Cludernay had been highly inebriated at the time.  The next evening, a group of veterans and others gathered at the restaurant and looted it.  They considered Toronto’s Greeks to be “slackers” (draft-dodgers) who had attacked one of their own; in fact, Canada’s strict naturalization laws had made it almost impossible for many Greek immigrants to serve in the army until 1917.  The mob grew that night, targeting many other Greek-owned businesses.

On August 3, the Toronto police, which had done little so far, finally responded and attempted to stop the rioting.  Eventually, troops had to be called in to suppress the riots, which would not be fully quelled until the night of the 4th.  With their businesses destroyed, much of Toronto’s Greek community on Yonge Street relocated further east to Danforth Avenue.

Today in 1917: Teenage American Volunteers Hit by Shellfire

Today in 1916: Roger Casement Executed
Today in 1915: Edith Cavell Arrested
Today in 1914: Grey Convinces House of Commons To Intervene if Belgium Invaded

One hundred days remain in the war.