The following is a quick summary about my parents Nikola and Jelena Vrdoljak.


My dad danced for Joza Vlahovic (Folklore ensemble) in Zagreb prior to moving to Imotski to
work as a dentist. Imotski is where he met and married my mom, and where they started our
family. Due to the political climate in the former Yugoslavia my parents moved to Canada in
1968 with hope for a better life for our family. Two years later in 1970, Djuka Haramustek
reached out to my dad asking for help to teach and run a small group on Dupont street in
Toronto, Ontario. This group grew over the next couple of years and established itself in 1972 as
the Canadian-Croatian Folklore Ensemble Zrinski Frankopan as an officially formed (and later
incorporated) volunteer group. CCFE Zrinski Frankopan performed at Croatian centers across
the Greater Toronto Area and as they gained popularity throughout the Ontario community, they
became known as the “Flying Zrinski.”

The profound understanding of the Croatian culture and folklore that my dad had was a great
catalyst in their success but he always said that he would not have been able to do any of it
without the support of my mom Jelena. She was always active backstage with prep, costuming,
and the loudest supporter of the group at every performance. We were privileged to perform at
many venues across Canada and abroad. Some notable performances include Bi-centennial,
The White House, 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Caravan, Canada Day at City Hall, Easter around
the world and Christmas around the world. Zrinski Frankopan’s high standard for performances
opened the door for global performances in Croatia, Germany, United States and of course from
coast to coast in Canada.

The importance of family, friends, Canada, Croatia and the love they had for the CCFE Zrinski
Frankopan Inc (Their Third Child) was prevalent throughout their lives. My parents Nikola and
Jelena are no longer with us, but they left a legacy that continues to influence the Canadian-
Croatian community!

Ivana Ferenac