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February 13, 2001

Exploring Facets of the Ukrainian Canadian Past

Under the auspices of the Ukrainian Canadian Programme of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, several successful initiatives have been undertaken in recent months in the field of Ukrainian Canadian Studies. In October, the co-coordinators of the programme, Jars Balan and Andrij Makuch, gave well-attended talks at St. Vladimir's Institute as part of commemorations marking the centennial of Ukrainian settlement in Toronto. Whereas Mr. Balan spoke on the rich Ukrainian theatrical legacy of the city, Mr. Makuch gave a fascinating overview of some of the highlights of a century of Ukrainian life on the shores of Lake Ontario.

More recently, Mr. Balan kicked off the 2001 Edmonton CIUS seminar series with a presentation entitled: "California Dreaming: Ahapii Honcharenko's Role in the Formation of a Pioneer Ukrainian Canadian Intelligentsia." His talk examined a short-lived commune established in 1902 on Honcharenko's Hayward, California ranch, by activists who figured prominently in the subsequent development of the pioneer era Ukrainian Canadian community. Initiated by the immigration agent Cyril Genik, the experiment in communal living only lasted a few months before philosophical differences and personality conflicts led to its sudden demise. Among those who participated in the failed venture were Taras D. Ferley and Myroslaw Stechishin, who went on to play key roles in the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada, and Ivan Danylczuk, an author who became a Protestant minister. Although stillborn, the brief episode contributed to the political maturation of several future leaders of Ukrainian Canadian society.

The Reverend Honcharenko, of course, is celebrated in early American Ukrainian history for having published the newspaper Alaska Herald/Svoboda from 1867 to 1872. An Orthodox priest from a proud Cossack family in central Ukraine, Honcharenko -- whose real name was Andrii Humnytsky -- was a social revolutionary in the Christian anarchist mould and a fierce critic of Russian autocracy. Although dismissed by some as an eccentric, his singular achievements and larger-than-life character have earned him a lasting place in the mythology of Ukrainians on the North American continent.

Currently, Mr. Balan is focussing his efforts on preparing a detailed chronology of Ukrainian theatrical performances in Canada during the interwar years. A paper which he recently completed on the connection between Vasyl Stefanyk's classic short story, "The Stone Cross", and an immigrant who homesteaded in 1898 near Chipman, Alberta, is soon to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Ukrainian Studies. An article by Mr. Balan, on the Ukrainian churches of Western Canada, appeared in the January-February issue of the New York-based Catholic Near East magazine.

In addition to these activities, the Ukrainian Canadian Programme has commissioned research toward the writing of the second instalment of the three-volume CIUS history of Ukrainians in Canada. At the same time, a conference in honour of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies is being planned for the spring of 2001. It will focus on Ukrainian cultural and organizational life in Canada from the 1920s to the 1940s.







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