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Credit: George E. Dragan / Library and Archives Canada / PA-088507
Students of the “English School for Foreigners”, Vegreville, Alberta.
Credit: George E. Dragan / Library and Archives Canada / PA-088507

The Ukrainian Pioneers Association of Alberta was initiated by Wasyl Czumer and Wolodymyr Plawiuk. Shortly thereafter Dmytro Ferbey, Tom Tomashewsky and John Basarab joined it. The first meetings were held in March of 1941, and on March 31, 1941 the organization was registered with the Provincial government. On the same day the first executive was elected consisting of W. Plawiuk – President, D. Ferbey – Vice-President, W. Czumer – Secretary.

The stated purposes of the Association were:

  1. to carry [out] social, educational, and literary or other purposes among the Ukrainian people in the Province of Alberta or elsewhere
  2. to operate chiefly by giving lectures in the Ukrainian or English language, [and] to show pictures by sliding or moving picture machine
  3. to publish a book or books or periodical tracts of the Ukrainian life and progress in the Province of Alberta or elsewhere

pioneers_cert_incorpIn May 1941, the following joined the organization: Dmytro Yanda, Paul Melnyk, Iwan Nikiforuk, Iwan Solanych, Nicholas Spachinsky, Kost Hudyma, Roman Stoyko, Dr. Faust Gowda, Ilias Kiriak, Wasyl Chobotar, Wasyl Cheladyn, Paul Woloshynsky, Peter Wasylyshyn, Wolodymyr Masciuk, Iwan Krysa, Kost Sereda, Peter Miskew, Gregory Saik, Iwan Pasnak, Wasyl Hawrysh, Wasyl Sereda and Hnat Lopatynsky. Every new member paid the initial $5 membership fee and signed a declaration to work for the set objectives of the organization, especially to publish a book on the Ukrainian settlers of Alberta.

In 1947, at its annual meeting the organization chose a new executive consisting of: Tom Tomashewsky – President, and W. Plawiuk – Secretary-Treasurer.

In 1957, the organization started to foster the idea of building a monument in honour of the Ukrainian settlers in Alberta. At its annual meeting, a new executive Pwas elected consisting of: John Baron: President, William Lupul: Vice-President, and Tom Tomashewsky: Secretary-Treasurer. The monument was erected in the Elk Island Park, AB, and in 1963 it was unveiled by the Honourable Mr. Laing, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The first book, Ukrainian Pioneers of Alberta, was published in 1970. Joseph Lazarenko was a chief editor. He was assisted by an editorial committee of Dmytro Prokop, Mykola Flak, Wm. Kostash, Isidore Goresky, as well as other members of later publishing committees: Fred Hannochko, Walter Sharek, Nick Poohkay and Dr. Holubitsky. This book, under succeeding presidents, editors, and editorial committees, was followed by three more books: Ukrainians in Alberta Volume 2, Ukrainians in Alberta Volume 3, and the Dictionary of Ukrainian Canadian Biography of Pioneer Settlers of Alberta 1891-1900 edited and compiled by Dr. V. J. Kaye. Some of the publication costs were covered by grants from the Government of Alberta. Local community histories, family biographies and pioneer experiences formed the greater part of the contents of the books.

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