One of the first Slovak VIPs in Canada

[Previous Article]   [List of New Articles]  [Next Article]

[Slovak Version]

One of the first Slovak VIPs in Canada

By Ondrej Mihal

John Michael Palleck (Palek) was born on 17 July 1869 in Biely Potok and was raised in the mountainous Oravksa district of northern Slovakia, then part of Austro-Hungarian empire. As a young man he emigrated to the USA and there married a Slovak girl from the same region in 1897.

With their two daughters they moved to Fort William (Thunder Bay) at the turn of the century where he became employed as a water delivery man. Here, a large Slovak community had developed in the Coal Dock area which saw the construction of St. Peter’s Slovak RC church in 1907. Conversant with a number of Slavic languages spoken at the Coal Docks, Palleck drew attention to himself by serving as interpreter at the Stefan Rebak murder inquest and trial in 1903. “The intelligence and manliness of Palleck were noted by nearly every person who attended those cases, and the judge commended him highly” is the way he was presented in an article about him in the local newspaper of that time.

As early as 1904 Palleck objected to the Fort William Daily Times Journal newspaper making no distinctions in its crime reporting between East Europeans such as Hungarians and the rest of the Slavic community including Slovaks and he contacted the paper to voice his objection and seek correction. At that time Slovaks were generally described as Hungarians because in their homeland they fell under the Hungarian jurisdiction in the dual monarchy. By Dec. 1904, his economic stature was such that he was the only “foreigner” singled out as having constructed a building of note – a frame store and residence combined – at a cost of $ 1,800.00 where he owned and operated a general store at 500 McIntosh Avenue. Several years later he moved his store to 609 Simpson St. where he continued to operate a hardware store and branch post office for over 30 years. He had the distinction of being the first non-British person elected to the Fort William city council when he was elected to represent Ward 1 in 1911. Palleck was also actively involved in the Slovak community life. On Jan. 1, 1927 he was appointed Czechoslovak consular agent and served in this capacity for the next 15 years. In 1935 he received a medal honouring him for services rendered to Czechoslovak Republic. In addition he also served as a Fort William separate school board trustee for 25 years. He died in Port Arthur (sister city to Fort William) on Feb. 21, 1952 at the ripe old age of 82.

Jan Pallecek in suit at 1927 Celecbrations.

[Previous Article]  [List of New Articles]  [Next Article]

[SliC Project] [Overview] [Member Orgs] [New Articles]
Archived Articles] [Help Us]

Graphics & design of Slovaks in Canada Project pages - Sharon Tomas.
All contents for © 2002, Ondro Mihal
No part of these contents (text, graphics or photographs) can be copied in whole or in part for use elsewhere without written permission.

All comments regarding this page should be forwarded to

Last update on March 15, 2002