The First Ukrainians in Manitoba

by Paul Yuzyk

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1951-52 season

This article was published originally in MHS Transactions by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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The summer and fall of 1951 was the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. The outstanding celebrations of the Ukrainian Canadian Diamond jubilee were held under the distinguished patronage of Their Excellencies the Governor General and the Viscountess Alexander of Tunis. The sponsor in the prominent Ukrainian communities, which dot our country from Vancouver to Montreal and contain a population of over 400,000 of these people, was the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, a coordinating body of the dominion-wide Ukrainian organizations (excluding the pro-communist element).

Considerable prominence was given in Canadian circles to this important event. The Prime Minister of Canada, Louis St. Laurent, made a tour of several important pioneer localities. The Lieutenant-Governors and Premiers of some of the provinces as well as many Canadian leaders participated in the celebrations. The newspapers and magazines ran accounts with illustrations of the achievements of this significant ethnic group; the Winnipeg Tribune also published a separate dedicatory issue. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in a half-hour programme, dramatized the history of the Ukrainian Canadians, and the Voice of Canada (C.B.C. International Service) transmitted in Ukrainian three radio talks, given by the author of this paper, on the occasion to the people in Ukraine. [1]

The crowning celebrations were held on September 7, 8, and 9 in Winnipeg, which contains 41,500 Ukrainians (1951 census), is the centre of Ukrainian life in Canada, and is often referred to as the Ukrainian Canadian capital. The first day featured a beautifully-arranged display of the cultural achievements. The largest Ukrainian hall became a museum of Ukrainian folk art, consisting of handicrafts, Easter eggs, inlaid wooden articles and ceramics, of selected works of modern art, and of Ukrainian newspapers, books and magazines published in Canada. President A. H. S. Gillson of the University of Manitoba officially opened the exhibition. September 8 witnessed a parade to the Legislative Building. Here the Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable R. F. McWilliams, officially unveiled a memorial plaque, which stands in the hallway opposite the legislative library. The following words are inscribed on the tablet: "Dedicated to the pioneer Ukrainian settlers on the occasion of their sixtieth anniversary in recognition of their contribution to the development of Canada."

In the evening of September 8 a commemorative concert was held at the Playhouse Theatre in Winnipeg. Typical Ukrainian items, such as choral and instrumental music, as well as fast-moving folk-dancing, reminded the audience of the Ukrainian contribution to Canadian life in these fields. In an impressive ceremony, honour was paid to fifteen elderly pioneer men and women. At the banquet on September 10, Professor W. L. Morton, chairman of the History Department at the University, gave a concluding speech, entitled "The Common Heritage." The Jubilee came to an end with the closing of the Ukrainian exhibit, during which Professor L. Bilecky delivered an address on the future of Ukrainian culture in Canada. [2]

This jubilee brought to the minds of Canadians the place that Ukrainians hold in the life of the country. This largest Slavic group in Canada, which outnumbers all the rest of the Slavs combined, constitutes over ten per cent. of the population in the three prairie provinces. The largest proportion of these people inhabit our own province of Manitoba, where they form nearly thirteen per cent [3] of the population (approximately one person out of every eight), exceeded only by the English and the Scotch. Members of this group have been taking an increasing part in the political life in Canada. In Manitoba there are six members of Ukrainian origin sitting in the legislative assembly, one of whom is the speaker of the house, and they have been electing reeves, mayors, councillors, and aldermen in eighteen municipalities. While the largest proportion of Ukrainians are engaged in agriculture, which is their greatest single contribution to the province, increasingly larger numbers are found in business, manufacturing, the trades, and in the various professions, in fact in all walks of life. They are active in music circles, mainly in choral music, but many prominent musicians have also won laurels. Newspapers and books in the vernacular are published by them in considerable quantity. The study of Ukrainian is featured prominently at the prairie universities, Manitoba having a Department of Slavic Studies. The people are readily identified by their distinctive Byzantine-style, bulbous-domed churches, which are under the jurisdiction either of an Orthodox metropolitan or a Greek Catholic archbishop, and by the numerous community halls, which are active in cultural work and social activities. In spite of Soviet Russia's keen interest in this leading Slavic group in Canada, which was very evident during the Jubilee celebration, the Ukrainian Canadians are staunch, loyal, and constructive citizens of Canada, which was manifest in their whole-hearted support of the last war effort, even though they often bitterly denounced the alliance with the Soviet Union.

The jubilee reminds us that the first Ukrainian settlers [4] came to Canada in the year 1891. It is probable that some had entered the country before that date, but so far we possess no authentic record of such. The earliest available records reveal that Ivan Pillipiw and Wasyl Eleniak were on board the steamship Oregon which had left Liverpool on August 28, 1891 and landed at Montreal on September 7. Brief stories of their lives have appeared in the Ukrainian language, as well as in English. Eleniak [5] is still living on his original homestead near Chipman, Alberta, a fairly prosperous farmer, now ninety-three years of age. The real leader of the Ukrainian immigration to Canada was Ivan Pillipiw [6], who died in 1936 at the age of seventy-seven, as a result of an accident, at which time he was a prosperous farmer, also on his original homestead near Lamont, Alberta.

Both of these hardy Ukrainian farmers came from Nebiliv, a village comprising some six hundred homes on the eastern foothills of the Carpathian mountains, in Galicia, which at the time was under the rule of the Habsburgs. The initiative came from Pillipiw, who had a public school education. Like the majority of his fellow countrymen, he was unable to eke out a living from his small plot of land. With a growing family and had crops, Pillipiw was forced to do seasonal work in Hungary. It was while he was engaged in a contract job of supplying the Austrian government with wood that he learnt from German colonists who worked for him and had relatives in Canada, that free lands could be secured in this country. He wrote a letter to a Mennonite family in Canada, which answered that there were plenty of free lands and that with a bit of hard work, it was easy to become prosperous. Pillipiw was determined to see Canada for himself. He was able to persuade his friend, Wasyl Eleniak, and his brother-in-law, Yurko Panischak to go with him. By selling a pair of horses and oxen, Pillipiw raised 600 rinskies, approximately $240.00, while Eleniak raised 190 rinskies ($76.00) and Panishchak got only 120 rinskies ($48.00). At the border town of Oswiencim, Panischak was turned back by the officials as not having sufficient money. The other two men continued to Hamburg, where they secured passports and passages to Winnipeg, and sailed on the Oregon, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. It was a momentous step for the two humble rustics. Their example was soon followed by thousands of their own people.

Having arrived in Winnipeg, probably on September 9 or 10 (1891), the two adventurers came in contact with an immigration agent of German origin who spoke Ukrainian. They were taken to a German settlement in Langenburg, not far from Yorkton. Here Pillipiw found se oral Germans who had worked for him in the old country. After a week's stay in Langenburg, the two immigrants decided to file for homesteads. Upon their return to Winnipeg, they were advised to view the new lands opening up in the Calgary region. They made the trip but were not pleased with the open prairies, for they considered forests essential for firewood and building. Again they came back to Winnipeg, and this time went to the Mennonite settlement at Gretna, on the southern border of Manitoba. Finding the Mennonites prosperous and the land partially wooded, Pillipiw and Eleniak were overjoyed at the prospects. They immediately decided to settle on land in the Gretna district.

Pillipiw chose to return to his native village to sell his land and bring back his family, and also Eleniak's, while his companion remained at Gretna. Pillipiw left Winnipeg on December 15. At Hamburg, he made an agreement with a steamship agent, Shapiro, to secure passages to Canada for his friends, for which Pillipiw would receive the standard rate of five dollars for each head of a family and an additional two dollars for each other individual.

Pillipiw arrived in Nehiliv on January 12, 1892, during the Christmas season. His glowing reports of the free lands and opportunities in Canada, spread like wild-fire throughout his and the neighbouring villages. He urged the debt-ridden peasants to settle in the new country, which also guaranteed freedom to all individuals. In the spring, when several families were preparing for the journey to Canada, the Austrian police arrested Pillipiw and put him on trial, ostensibly for fraud in connection with overseas passages, but in reality for agitation among the country folk to leave the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which meant the loss of cheap labour and young men for service in the military forces. Pillipiw's punishment was a prison term of one month, which actually amounted to over three months since the day of his arrest. The prison sentence, however, did not serve as a deterrent. The trial turned out to be a public advertisement, by which news of the wonderful opportunities that Canada offered quickly spread to all corners of the Ukrainian lands under Austria.

In spite of governmental obstruction, nothing could stop those who set their minds on reaching the New World. The first group of emigrants from Nebiliv and the neighbouring village of Perehinsk consisted of seven families [7] and an unmarried youth. These are the names of the men: Wasyl Yaciw, Karl Paish and his single brother, Joseph, Anton Kowal, Wasyl Petryn, Michael Kremeniw, Adam Rawynsky, and Karl Hrushka, all of whom had sold their property to pay for the long trip of approximately 6,000 miles. They left their native land forever in June, 1892, when Pillipiw's trial was still in progress. All of this group, upon arrival in Winnipeg, tried to get to Wasyl Eleniak at Gretna, but had to return from Rosenfeld, for Gretna was under quarantine due to an outbreak of small-pox. Soon after, all of the group, except Yaciw and his wife, went to Edmonton and finally settled in the Beaver Lake district close to present-day Vegreville, which became the nucleus for a large Ukrainian colony in Alberta.

At this point, it might be of interest to follow through the story of the life of the first Ukrainian resident of Winnipeg, and Manitoba. Of the first group of Ukrainian settlers in Canada, Wasyl Yaciw, age 29, and his wife, Mary, age 23, who had sold their six-acre farm in Nebiliv, found themselves with only forty dollars when they came to Winnipeg.8 This sum was not enough to pay for their transportation to Edmonton and so they decided to remain in Manitoba. When the rest of the party returned to Winnipeg and Yaciw and his wife found that they could not reach Gretna by train, the couple got off at Rosenfeld. From this village, they went to Gretna on foot, and here, because of an epidemic, they were advised to go to Neche, in North Dakota. At Neche at the railroad station, where there were no prospects of meeting people who could understand them, Mrs. Yaciw broke down and burst into tears. A gentleman took pity on her and donated several dollars. This act of charity cheered up the couple and next day work was found. Yaciw was engaged in construction work at two dollars a day, and Mrs. Yaciw worked in a restaurant, washing dishes. In a month with their meagre savings, the Yaciws returned to Winnipeg.

They felt more at home in Winnipeg, for here there were Jews and Germans who could carry on a conversation in Ukrainian. They found living quarters with the Czech family of Frank Skalendar. Yaciw got a job doing construction work. On February 14, 1893, the Yaciw's were blessed with a son. Frank Yaciw consequently holds the honour of being the first native horn Canadian of Ukrainian descent. The advent of a child necessitated the acquisition of a home. In the spring, thirty dollars purchased a shanty at 479 King Street, which then was on the outskirts of Winnipeg. To supply the infant with milk, a cow was bought, and later another one. Gradually the Yaciw's adjusted themselves to their new life.

In a few years, however, they began to yearn for a farm of their own. In 1898, after six years residence in Winnipeg, Wasyl Yaciw took a homestead near Ladywood, about 35 miles to the northeast of the city. Here the old couple have lived until the present day, happy in their adopted land. The family consists of four children, three sons and a daughter. Their son Joseph completed Normal school and has been teaching in Alberta. John holds the degree of Doctor of Law from the University of Chicago, and is a practising lawyer, who was made a King's Counsel in 1949 at Windsor, Ontario.

To the end of 1893, the known Ukrainian settlers in Canada came from Nebiliv. Most of the score or more of families proceeded straight to locality of their predecessors in the Beaver Lake district of Alberta, which to-day is known as Star. Ivan Pilhpiw with his wife and four children finally came to Winnipeg in the summer of 1893. For six months he left his family in Winnipeg and went to North Dakota to earn money for farm supplies. In December, Pillipiw joined a group of Germans to go to Edmonton. In Winnipeg, he purchased two oxen, a cow, a plough, a wagon, a bag of flour, salt, sugar, and other food, and took his possessions with him in a box-car for which freight he paid forty dollars. Pillipiw secured a homestead at Bruderheim but in six months moved to the Beaver Lake district to be among his kinsmen, where he made his permanent habitation.

Now to turn to Wasyl Eleniak, who had remained at Gretna when Pillipiw returned to his native village, from which he was to have brought back Eleniak's family of three children. Eleniak's wife, Anna, wrote to her husband that Pillipiw had been arrested. Eleniak, who was illiterate at the time, subsequently had a letter written, informing his wife that he would work in Canada for a while to make enough money to pay for his passage to Nebiliv, and that he would bring the family to Canada himself. Eleniak worked for Jacob Drueger [9] (possibly Krueger) for one year for one hundred dollars and for another year for Heinrich Laiba (possibly Loewen) for one hundred twenty dollars. In the late fall of 1893, Eleniak departed from Gretna and arrived in Nebiliv at the end of December. He sold his holdings, obtained a passport, and attempted to cross the Austrian border with six other families. Four families, including Eleniak's, were turned back for lack of sufficient funds. Eleniak had 400 rinskies, about $160.00. He worked for another month at logging, and purchased passages from Shapiro in Hamburg. This time the border officials permitted his family and two other families to cross into Germany.

From Winnipeg, the Eleniak family proceeded to Gretna, arriving there in the spring of 1894. Again he hired himself out to the Mennonite farmers, this time as a cattle-herder at eighty dollars a year plus 80 bushels of wheat and 40 bushels of rye. Here he was joined by his brother, Ivan, and his family. After four years of work at Gretna, Wasyl Eleniak used his savings to purchase two cows, two oxen, a plough, and a wagon, with which in 1898 he went to the Beaver Lake district in Alberta and took out a homestead close to the other Nebilivites. At this place he has remained to the present day. On January 3, 1947, when the Canadian Citizenship Act came into force, this brave pioneer was singled out to represent the Ukrainian ethnic group at the ceremonies. Along with Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King and other notables, in a colourful ceremony at Ottawa, Wasyl Eleniak was the recipient of the fourth certificate of Canadian citizenship. [10] It was the proudest moment of his life. His eight children, his fifty-five grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as all of the Ukrainian Canadians, shared in the pride.

Perhaps the first non-Nebilivite Ukrainian to come to Canada was Andrew Banzur, [11] from the county of Brody, the easternmost part of Galicia and across the width of the province from Nebiliv. After serving in the Austrian cavalry for three years, he married and worked his eight and a half acre farm, which was considered better than the average. In the slack seasons he did carpentering. He had no economic difficulties, but could not tolerate the domination of the Poles over the Ukrainians in Galicia. He, therefore, decided to emigrate to Brazil. The village overseer refused to issue him a passport and labelled him a malcontent, and a rebel. Banzur became irate, took his military papers with him, and boarded a train for Vienna. His military record stood him in good stead and he gained an audience with Emperor Francis Joseph, who granted him permission to go to Brazil and also refunded him the railroad fare for both ways. Banzur immediately sold his property for 2,000 rinskies, or $800.00, and purchased a passage for his wife and son to Brazil. For some reason, the ship landed in New York and he was told that diseases were rampant in that country of South America. He was advised to go to the Canadian West.

Thus in a mysterious way, Banzur and his family arrived in Regina on December 15, 1893. No work could be found and by spring his purse was empty. He decided to go to Brandon in search of work. He must have possessed a strong constitution, for he claims that he walked the 240 miles in four days, averaging fifteen hours and sixty miles daily along the railroad track. Banzur found work at Brandon, digging sewers at $1.25 a day in the beginning. Later he took to carpentry. The next Ukrainians to come to the town were Cyril Shkura and Harry Kanalup, who arrived in 1897. In 1903 when there were sixteen Ukrainian families in Brandon, Banzur was hired to build the Greek Catholic church. The original Ukrainian settler in Brandon built over fifty houses during his lifetime.

One of the first Ukrainian settlers who lived in Winnipeg continuously and the longest time is Yakim Orlowsky, [12] who like Banzur, hailed from the county of Brody in Western Ukraine. After service in the Austrian cavalry, he married, but realized that his small plot of land could not provide a living for a family. He therefore sought to go to Canada. At Hamburg he learned that he was short of money for passage to Canada, and instead went to Argentina because the fare was cheaper. After working for one year in Argentina, Orlowsky found he disliked the hot climate there and returned to Europe, stopping over at London, England. Here, a steamship agent urged him to settle in Canada and gave him a proposition that if he found ten families which would go to the new land, Orlowsky and his wife would receive free passage to Winnipeg. To aid him in his task, he was given a quantity of pamphlets.

Orlowsky travelled back to his native village in Ukraine and before long interested a group of Czechs, who had settled on poor lands in the neighbouring village of Komarivka. Eleven Czech families sold their lands and emigrated with the Ukrainian to Manitoba, some settling in Winnipeg, others in Ladywood and Cromwell, Manitoba, and some in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; all of them were grateful to Orlowsky for his encouragement and efforts. Orlowsky, himself, took up residence in Winnipeg, where he has remained since his arrival in 1894, from which date he has been in the employ of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was a founder of the first Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish of St. Nicholas in Winnipeg in 1899, and ever since has been an active member of Sts. Vladimir and Olga church, now a cathedral. He aided in the establishment of the Mutual Benefit Association of St. Nicholas in 1905, the first of its kind among Ukrainian Canadians.

By 1895, the Ukrainian leaders in Galicia became quite concerned about the emigration and the ultimate fate of their people. All sorts of conflicting reports and rumours about the emigrants were circulating throughout the country. The Prosvita Society, an educational association, with headquarters in the metropolis of Lviv, known as Lwow in Polish and as Lemberg in German, decided to make an investigation of the conditions and prospects in Brazil, Canada and the United States, where most of the Ukrainians were going. Dr. Osip Oleskiw, [13] a graduate of the University of Lviv in chemistry and geology, who also had studied botany and economics in Germany, was engaged to make a written report on the emigration situation. In the early summer of 1895, Dr. Oleskiw published a booklet, Pro Vilni Zemli (About Free Lands), in which he condemned the slave labour methods employed in Brazil and advised the people not to go to South America, and suggested that instead they should emigrate to the United States, and particularly to Canada, where the government granted free lands to settlers.

To view the New World and to determine the possibilities of Ukrainian settlement there, Dr. Oleskiw decided to make a tour of the two countries. An account of his journey and his observations appeared in his second booklet, entitled, 0 Emigratsiyi (On Emigration), which was published upon his return to Lviv in December. In it he described the nature of the soil on the prairies and was satisfied that it was productive. He was particularly impressed with the Red River soil, which he stated was "so rich, that even without fertilizing it will produce good crops." A description was given of the districts open for homesteads, the registration of homesteads, the crop yields, use of machinery, marketing and the price of wheat. Dr. Oleskiw was prepared to recommend the free lands of Canada to the impoverished Ukrainian farmers in the following terms:

"Everything points to the fact that in a few years our farmer will build himself a good livelihood, although at present in the hardships of pioneering, he does not resemble the image of God-ragged and pitiful, his appearance does not harmonize with the free lands where he has settled. It does not seem that fine ploughed lands and pastures could belong to such poverty-stricken people. If some of our intelligentsia were to take to heart the fate of our people and go to Canada, they could serve as their leaders, and prevent them from being swindled. I shall be happy to show them on the map where our people have settled, and will tell them many practical things which could help them." [14]

Dr. Oleskiw spent about six weeks travelling in Canada. He arrived in Winnipeg in the latter part of July and here he made contact with eight Ukrainians: [15] Wasyl Yaciw, Yurko Panischak, Yurko Roshko, Yurko Paish, Dmytro Wyzynowich, all from Nebiliv, and Luke Kulczycky, Ivan Barski, and Hnat Dmytryshyn from other parts of Western Ukraine. He visited the first Ukrainian settlement of the Nebilivites in the Beaver Lake district. In September, the visitor had several conferences with immigration officials at Ottawa. He advised the Canadian government to open up an immigration bureau in Lviv, Galicia. Aware of the extreme hostility of the Austrian government towards the emigration of its subjects, the Canadian government knew that such a plan was impractical, and in its place offered to establish a Ukrainian immigration bureau in Winnipeg. Dr. Oleskiw agreed to this alternative and promised to send a qualified person to take charge of the bureau.

Dr. Oleskiw's booklet about Canadian settlement opportunities and his announcement that a special bureau was established in Winnipeg to help emigrants from Ukraine made him the object of denunciation by the government officials and the great landowners in Galicia, but made a positive impression on the petty farmers. Those, who had the intention of improving their economic and social status, were now assured that the information about Canada as presented by a scholar and professor was reliable. The appointment of Cyril Genik [16] as immigration agent at Winnipeg, upon the recommendation of Dr. Oleskiw, proved to be popular. Genik, who came from Kolomeya, had completed gymnasium (Junior College) at Lviv and passed a civil service examination for the position of a postal official. Before leaving for Canada, he corresponded with the Department of Immigration at Ottawa, from which he received abundant German language pamphlets with illustrations. These Genik distributed at meetings in the villages of southern Galicia and Bukowina. Among the small farmers, as well as the labourers in the cities resounded the slogan, "To Canada."

After selling his land to his brother, Cyril Genik, leading a group of a score of families, arrived in Winnipeg in the early fall of 1896. This group was the spearhead of a mass immigration of Ukrainians to Canada. As one observer expressed it, "Soon there began to appear on the platforms and in the waitingrooms of the old C.P.R. station, strange men and women wearing sheepskin coats with the wool turned inside, either very large boots or often no boots at all, the women with shawls or scarves on their heads, and hemp skirts extending not quite to the ankle." [17] Either directly or indirectly, most of the Ukrainians and the other Slavs who arrived in the west secured some sort of advice about lands or employment from the office of which Cyril Genik had charge.

The year 1896 witnessed the establishment of the first rural settlements in Manitoba. [18] Perhaps the oldest is Stuartburn, which was followed by Gonor, Brokenhead, and Dauphin. The first large wave of immigration came in the following year, when approximately 4,000 Ukrainians passed through the C.P.R. station in Winnipeg. In 1897 and 1898 the following Ukrainian settlements came into existence: Sifton, Ethelbert, Pine River, Gilbert Plains, Drifting River and Duck Mountain in the extensive Dauphin region; Riding Mountain, Sandy Lake, Rossburn, Strathclair and Shoal Lake in the region south of Riding Mountain Reserve; Pleasant Home, Teulon, and Gimli in the inter-lake region; Ladywood and East Selkirk in the Lower Red River and Brokenhead area; and Gardenton, Vita, and Sandilands in the Stuartburn area. By this time, the better lands had been taken up by the older settlers and so the Ukrainians, inexperienced in judging land and ignorant of the English language, took whatever the government officials offered them. Thus large numbers of them, particularly in the Stuartburn and inter-lake areas, obtained farms with poor, inferior, stony, or swampy land. Their love of the soil, their frugality, and their tenacity have in the majority of cases brought these farmers a fair living and to many prosperity and happiness. They were here to stay and make the best of their conditions.

It would perhaps be most appropriate at the conclusion of this paper, to note the beginnings of religious life among the pioneers. [19] It should be borne in mind that no priest came with the early Ukrainian settlers. The leaders of the Ukrainians in the United States, where the group had arrived earlier and had already established many Greek Catholic parishes, a mutual aid society, and a newspaper, Svoboda (Liberty), became concerned with the religious plight of their kinsmen in Canada. It was decided to send a Greek Catholic priest to visit the communities.

As result Father Nestor Dmytriw, who was also an editor of the Svoboda, came to Winnipeg on April 5, 1897. The priest wrote accounts of his travels to the Ukrainian weekly newspaper. [20] Later these were published in a pamphlet entitled Kanadiyska Rus (Canadian Ruthenia). At Winnipeg he was the guest of the immigration agent, Cyril Genik. Father Dmytriw then went to the Dauphin area. At Drifting River, he found fifteen Ukrainian families, all of whom burst into tears when he commenced mass in a log-house. A crude poplar cross was erected on a hill overlooking the river. It was consecrated in commemoration of the emancipation of the serfs in Austria in 1848 and dedicated to the liberty of the adopted country of the settlers. The priest returned to Winnipeg and then proceeded to Stuartburn, where he met forty-five families. Here an open-air service was arranged for, but not held, for a violent thunder storm raged the night before and snow fell on the Sunday morning. Father Dmytriw left Stuartburn on April 17, being struck by the poverty-stricken appearance and the loneliness of his people in a strange land.

After a three-week visit in the Beaver Lake district near Edmonton, the priest came to Winnipeg again, arriving on May 9. He observed that on Sunday, Winnipeg was as "quiet as a tomb" and that the 400 Ukrainians, having no church of their own, appeared lost and wandered about "like gypsies without their tents." Writing to the Svoboda, Father Dmytriw advised Ukrainians not to settle in Canada without some capital to purchase the bare necessities of farming. He stated that real opportunities existed, but that these were accompanied by initial hardship. He gave a list of addresses for prospective settlers, among which were Cyril Genik, Winnipeg; B. Ksionzek, Trembowla; P. Maykowski, Stuartburn; and also Dr. Osip Oleskiw, Lemberg, Galicia. In the fall, when he heard that Russian Orthodox priests visited the Ukrainian communities in Alberta, Father Dmytriw made another tour of the Ukrainian settlements in Canada. In the United States, he frequently wrote about farming opportunities in Western Canada and ran a steady advertisement in the Svoboda, urging immigrants to write him about information, railway tickets, etc. He has remained in the memories of the pioneers as the first Greek Catholic priest to conduct services in Canada.

In 1897 the pattern of Ukrainian settlement in Manitoba was already becoming visible. The foundation was established and the framework was taking shape. As it was still, the formative period, the pattern of organized life and society within the structure was yet to appear.


1 P. Yuzyk's radio talks, dated Sept. 5,7, 10, 1951, were published in several Ukrainian Canadian papers, and in Kalendar Kanadiyskoho Farmera 1952 (Calendar-Almanac of the Canadian Farmer, 1952), pp. 46-50; and in English translation in the Ukrainian Weekly (Jersey City, N.J. U.S.A.), Oct. 29, Nov. 19, and Nov 26, 1951.

2 An illustrated booklet outlining the achievements and history was published for the occasion (in Ukrainian) by the Ukrainian Canadian Committee under the title: L. Biletsky, Ukrayinski Pionery v. Kanadi, 1891-1951 (Ukrainian Pioneers in Canada, 1891-1951) (Winnipeg, 1951)

3 According to the 1951 census there were 98,753 Ukrainians in Manitoba out of a population of 776,541.

4 The best account of the early pioneer life before 1914 is given by the first public school teacher of Ukrainian origin in Manitoba, W.A. Chumer, "Spomyny pro perezhyvannya pershykh Ukrayinskykh pereselentsiv v Kanadi" (Memoirs of the experiences of the first Ukrainian settlers in Canada) (Edmonton, 1942). Useful general works in the English language, dealing with settlement are C.H. Young, The Ukrainian Canadians (Toronto, 1931) and Vera Lysenko, Men in Sheepskin Coats (Toronto, 1947) (pro-communist bias).

5 The most authentic account of Eleniak's pioneer experiences is found in "Providnyk, Kalendar Kanadiyskykh Ukrayintsiv", 1933 (Leader, Calendar for Ukrainian Canadians, 1933), Winnipeg, pp.31-34.

6 Good Accounts of Pillipwi are found in Chumer, op. cit., pp. 16-27; and Lysenko, op. cit., pp. 6-20.

7 Providnyk, 1931, p.29.

8 Yaciw's brief memoirs are found in Providynk, 1931, pp. 29-30.

9 The spelling of German names is based on transliteration from the Ukrainian as given in the memoirs.

10 See W.V. Eleniak, "Ottawa Honours Wasyl Eleniak," in Opinion (Winnipeg), Jan-Feb. issue, 1947.

11 This account is based on Banzur's memoirs in Providnyk, 1931, pp. 31-33.

12 Based on the article by W. Karpec, "Istoriya Odnoho Pionira-Y Orlowskoho" (History of One Pioneer - Y Orlowsky) in Kalendar Kanadiyskoho Farmera, 1951 (Calendar of the Ukrainian Farmer, 1951), pp. 58-60.

13 The best available account of Dr. Oleskiw's work and influence is found in Lysenko, op. cit., pp. 21-27. Pertinent references are made in Chumer, op. cit., pp. 30-33; Young, op. cit. pp.40-41; and in "Propamyatna Knyha Ukrayinskoho Narodnoho Domu v Winnipeg" (Commemorative Book of The Ukrainian National Home in Winnipeg) (Winnipeg, 1949) pp. 507-08.

14 Lysenko, op. cit. p.27.

15 Chumer, op. cit., p.30.

16 Information on Cyril Genik (now deceased) is very scant, in spite of his many activities. He has perhaps been ignored because of his socialist and atheistic views. Some information on Genik is given by John Bodrug in his article on Ukrainian settlements in the Dauphin area in Propamyatna Knyha, pp. 508-09.

17 Quoted in Young, op. cit., p.40.

18 Chumer, op. cit., p.47.

19 The following sources give considerable information on the very early religious life: Chumer, op. cit., pp.47-66; P. Yuzyk, A History of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church in Canada (M.A. thesis, Saskatchewan); and "Propamyatna Knyha Poselennya Ukrayinskoho Narodu v Kanadi" (Commemorative Book of the Settlement of the Ukrainian People in Canada) (Yorkton, 1941).

20 Svoboda (Jersey City, N.J., U.S.A.), April 22 to June 3, 1897.

Page revised: 22 May 2010