Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation

Established Canada's first Chair of Ukrainian History

In September 1980, Canada's first endowed Chair of Ukrainian Studies began its activity at the University of Toronto. 

The idea of establishing a University Chair arose in 1953 with plans formulated by the Toronto Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The most active organization in the Congress, the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club of Toronto, carried out a fundraising campaign and was able to raise $11,000. As this was well short of the $100,000 necessary in 1953 to establish a Chair, the $11,000 was turned over to the University of Toronto to create the Taras Shevchenko Scholarship.

Establishment of a Chair was revived in 1975 by the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation, Toronto Branch, who worked with the Government of Canada and the University of Toronto to create a Chair of Ukrainian Studies. In 1979, the Federation, through the newly established Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation succeeded. The Federation incorporated the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation on August 8th, 1978 and the Directors of the Foundation were members of the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club of Toronto. Canada's First Chair of Ukrainian Studies was established with an endowment of $1 million.

During its initial years, the Foundation was headed by Toronto lawyers W. George Danyliw (August 1978 to July 1979), Ihor W. Bardyn (July 1979 to February 1980), and Eugene Zaraska (February 1980 to September 1980). Ihor W. Bardyn was re-elected to the Presidency in September 1980.

In accordance with the agreement between the Chair Foundation and the University of Toronto, the university established an academic search committee which, in early 1980, invited Paul R. Magocsi of Harvard University to be the first holder of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies. Undergraduate and graduate courses are offered to advance studies of the history, culture and political economy of Ukraine, and Ukrainian Canadians.

Scholarship/Fellowships for Students

The Chair Foundation made a decision to support the early scholarly careers of recent Ph.D.s by helping them to prepare for publication their doctoral dissertations. In that regard, the first scholarship established was the Edward Schreyer Fellowship in Ukrainian Studies, in 1983. The first three Schreyer Fellows and their topics were: Dr. Stephen Velechenko (1983-84), Interpretations of Ukrainian History; Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk (1984-85), Ukrainian Refugee Immigration to Canada After World War II; and Dr. Thomas Prymak (1985-86), Biography of Mykhailo Hrushevskyi.

The establishment of the Edward Schreyer Fellowship was the beginning of a growing list of scholarships, fellowships and awards which have been created by the Foundation in honour of their benefactors or prominent Canadians. Following the Schreyer Fellowship others were established in honour of Illya and Paulina Shkilnyk, Justice John Sopinka, Cathy Obal, Ivan Bodnarchuk, Dr. Yuri and Dr. Oksana Fedyna, Volodymyr Hrynyk, Mazurenko Family, Malanchuk Family, Haluszka Family, Michael & Ethel Rose Makuch, Eugene & Alexandra Sukniarsky, Michael & Anna Bardyn, Ukrainian Millennium Award established by the Holy Protection of the B.V.M. Ukrainian Catholic Church in Burlington and St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Oakville.

Additional scholarships were established in honour of Hon. Ramon Hnatyshyn, Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Dr. Roman and Jerry Humeniuk, the HUME Foundation, Vasyl Loboda, Vasyl Kereliuk, Antin Hlynka, Michael Luchkovych, Senator Paul Yuzyk, Zenovy Knysh, Hon. Hon. Michael Starr, Norman Cafik, John Yaremko and Ostap Wynnyckyj.

Students from Canada and Ukraine have received scholarships to attend universities in Canada and abroad; at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, Queen's University, McGill University, University of Western Ontario, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba, Harvard University, Oxford University, University of Chicago, Saint Paul University and Loras College.

Ukrainica holdings at University of Toronto

After the establishment of the Chair in 1980, the Foundation embarked on a program to expand Ukrainian holdings at the John Robarts Library of the University of Toronto.

With the aid of a grant of $47,000 from benefactor Peter Jacyk of Toronto, a complete set of Western Ukrainian Serials held by the Austrian Library in Vienna for the years 1948 to 1980 were microfilmed and delivered to the University of Toronto Library and made it the largest holder of Western Ukrainian serials in North America.


Millennium Ukrainian Collection

A second major acquisition came from the Estate of Paul M. Fekula of New York. Known as the Millennium Ukrainian Collection, in commemoration of the decade-long celebrations marking 1,000 years of Christianity in Ukraine-Rus, these invaluable books were printed in Ukraine between 1614 and the end of the 18th century. Each book bears a name plate designed by Toronto artist Lidia Palij and inscribed with the names of seven of the most prominent donors to the collection. An illustrated catalogue compliments the collection.

In 1984, the Foundation purchased the library of Omelan and Alexandra Tarnavskyj, rich in Ukrainian publications from World War II and in material on the Plast scouting organization.

In 1985, a four year project was completed with the publication of a two-volume, 1,900 page catalogue entitled Ukrainica at the University of Toronto Library.

Ukraine and its Students

With the proclamation of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the Foundation began to put in place programs aimed at assisting the democratization process underway in Ukraine.

In 1991, on the occasion of the centennial of Ukrainian group immigration to Canada, the Foundation established the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program for university students from Ukraine. The Mazurenko brothers, Ivan, Vasyl, Danylo, contributed the initial endowment of $350,000. University students from Ukraine chosen on the basis of academic achievement, proficiency in English or French and Ukrainian languages apply for scholarships to study at the University of Ottawa and the House of Commons. The program allows the students to study the Canadian parliamentary system of government. It is hoped that this program will contribute to the education of future leaders of Ukraine.

A second project which the Foundation established is the Walter Surma Tarnopolsky Award for the Promotion, Understanding and Observance of the Rule of Law. Mr. Justice Walter Tarnopolsky died in Toronto on September 15th, 1993. To honour the memory of this outstanding human rights supporter, constitutional expert, jurist and teacher, the Award has been created, which allows students from Ukraine to complete a research project at a university in Europe or North America.