Manitoba Historical Society
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No. 85


of 2017

This Old


in Manitoba

Local History


Historic Sites
of Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans: Jaroslav Bohdan Rudnyckyj (1910-1995)

Author, onomastic scholar.

He was born on 28 November 1910 in Peremysl, Western Ukraine, and died in Montreal, Québec on 19 October 1995.  He was considered a pillar in world onomastic development and the one scholar who fully developed Ukrainian onomastics.

He received his MA (1934) and PhD (1937) from the University of Lviv, his dissertation being the geographical names of Boikovia. Shortly thereafter he accepted a position at the University of Berlin (1938-41), followed by Charles University in Prague (1943-45) and the Ukrainian Free University (1945-47). In 1949, he founded the Department of Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba and was its chair until his retirement in 1977. Under his sponsorship the first Canadian theses on onomastic topics were supervised.

Over his lifetime Rudnyckyj produced a distinguished body of work in onomatology, linguistics, lexicology, bibliography, education and public service. His contribution of nearly 3,000 publications was presented in Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1933-1983, in its Addendum 1984-1995; J. B. Rudnyckyj and the Growth of Ukrainian Onomastics: An Onomastic Bibliography, 1935-1995, and in twelve issues of Rudnyckyiana (1985-1995). His major scholastic endeavor was The Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language (1962-82), which fully developed his Etymological Formula in Onomastics (1967). His adding and dating of surnames to the definitions of words gave historical foundation to the Ukrainian language and impacted its linguistic legitimacy. Among his important works in toponymy were Manitoba Mosaic of Place Names (1970) and Mosaic of Winnipeg Street Names (1974).  

In 1937, Rudnyckyj attended the First International Conference on Onomastic Sciences in Paris. In 1952, he was designated as permanent delegate of Canada and Ukraine to the ICOS in Louvain, Belgium. Rudnyckyj was a charter member of the American Name Society in 1951, and served as its president in 1959. He was the founder of the Canadian Institute of Onomastic Sciences (now the Canadian Society for the Study of Names) in London in 1967, and was its president until 1970. He was a Canadian delegate to the First United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Rudnyckyj founded the journal Onomastica in Winnipeg in 1951, and was its editor until 1973. Today it continues as Onomastica Canadiana, the biannual journal of the CSSN.

After retirement Rudnyckyj kept his whirlwind tempo of activity - traveling, lecturing, teaching and writing. Prior to his death, he visited his native Ukraine and offered a course in onomastics. He will forever be considered a giant in Ukrainian onomastics coupled with the development of onomastics as an academic science worldwide.


This profile was prepared by Stephen P. Holutiak-Hallick, Jr.

Who’s Who in North American Name Study (American Name Society)

Page revised: 8 December 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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