In 1903, the first Greek, Athanassios Papadopoulos, came to Calgary from Tripolis, Arcadia. With him on this journey was Louis Georgopoulos. They both returned to Greece and served in the Greek Army during the Balkan wars 1912-1913, but only Louis returned to Calgary after the end of the wars. Immigration by Greeks to Calgary remained steady throughout the early 1900s.
The Hellenic Orthodox Community of Calgary was established in 1957, with the aim of raising funds to build a church and a community hall. The first President of the community was Jimmie Condon who was perhaps the most famous of the early Greeks, a successful businessman, and early benefactor of the community, after whom Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is named. He was able to secure the land in Spruce Cliff, where our church and community continue to thrive. The executive council members consisted of Vice-President Paul Zarkos, Secretary Michael Sfakianakis and TreasurerTheodore Zeis. The volunteer comittee for the construction of the church consisted, amongst others, of bricklayers Nick and Gust Kolias and Gus Agioritis, and carpenters George and Stavro Melathopoulos, George Sfakianakis, and Peter Giannakos who all donated their time and expertise to the building.
In October, 1959, the unfinished church was blessed by his Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Los Angeles and conducted the first Divine Liturgy. Father Dimitrios Kavouras was the first priest of the church. There are 4 bottles of agiasmos , one in each corner of the foundation, placed by Maritsa Sainis, who later became one of the first chanters in the church. Volunteers worked for three years on evenings and weekends from April to September to build the church.
The first wedding was performed August 21, 1959 between Nina Agioritis and Gus Kolias. The next day, the first double wedding was performed between Tony Devetzis and Angeliki Panagakou and Christo Devetzakis and Anna Argiris. In 1959, there were five baptisms, seven weddings, and one funeral held in St. Demetrios. Philoptochos was formed on December 9, 1962 by Father Demetrios Kavouras and GOYA, Greek School and Sunday School were established shortly after.
In 1978, plans were drawn up to expand the church to its current size. On October 26, 1979 (St Demetrios Feast Day) the official opening of the community centre took place. Interestingly, three of the five fulltime priests in our Church have been named Demetrios.
The Hellenic Society was established in the late 1970s and works in concert with the Hellenic Community to maintain and preserve Hellenic culture in Calgary. Some of the Society’s programs include an accredited Hellenic Language School, and several other organizations for youth, adults and seniors in addition to hosting the highly-anticipated annual Greek Festival.