Hungarian architects thank Canada for welcoming over 37 thousand emigrants fleeing communism
Hello Wood’s Tunnel Through Time installation commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight and the Hungarian emigration to Canada
After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, 37 565 Hungarian emigrants settled in Canada fleeing communism. Hello Wood architecture studio, representing the 2nd generation of Hungarians since the revolution, built their contemporary interpretation of the historic event. The wooden installation’s purpose is to remember the heroes of the revolution, while thanking the Canadian people who welcomed and helped the integration of Hungarian refugees. The tunnel is comprised of 37 565 pieces; each one standing for a Hungarian refugee that was accepted into Canada.
End of October this year marks the 60th anniversary of “1956”, as Hungarians would refer to one of the most important events of their 20th century history. On the 23rd of October 1956, the demonstration of Hungarian university students against the Soviet occupation and the communist dictatorship transformed into a nationwide revolution and freedom fight. For a few days, it looked like the freedom fighters would reach their goals, but then the world's strongest army invaded Budapest with tanks. Close to 3000 were killed in couple of days and after the fall of the revolution, nearly 200 thousand Hungarian refugees escaped to the West. Almost the fifth of them, 37 565 arrived in Canada to find a new home.
Hello Wood’s installation built by Lake Ontario forms a tunnel. The entrance is the symbol of the spirit of the events of 1956: the Hungarian flag with a hole in the middle - protesters cut out the communist coat of arms from the Hungarian flag during the demonstrations. The exit of the tunnel is the national symbol of Canada, the maple leaf, symbolizing the journey of Hungarian refugees. The welcoming of Hungarian refugees was a huge turning point in the history of Canadian immigration policy that shaped the country’s open-minded attitude towards immigrants in general. Hungarian immigrants added value to the economy of Canada, like those 200 young engineers arriving from the Faculty of Wood Sciences of the University of Sopron who helped to shape the world famous Canadian wood industry. Canada welcomed 37 565 Hungarians after the Uprising, moulding the image of Canadian society so much, that in 2010 it was designated a Canadian national historic event and part of Canadian heritage.
Hello Wood was commissioned by the Consulate General of Hungary in Toronto to build the memorial. They arrived to the city with a team of 8, receiving help not only from the Consulate, but locals and Canadian Hungarians from all over the country. The installation is planned to stay in Budapest Park for a month, after that it will be moved close to the Niagara Falls, where it will be in the custody of a Canadian Hungarian scout group.
“We wanted to create a memorial that could be interesting to a Canadian youngster, who does not necessarily have Hungarian roots. The Tunnel Through Time is a visually exciting object, and if someone steps closer, they will get a piece of history by meeting the story of the events of 1956. Canadians of Hungarian origin can be proud of the old country and to Canada, which gave them a new home, and the culturally diverse local community can experience a piece of world history.” - says Péter Pozsár, co-founder of Hello Wood about the installation built in Budapest Park, Toronto.