Love, courtship, and family are essential parts of every culture and every community. Each love story, however, is unique. Letters, stories, and photographs in this catalogue provide an opportunity to see the life of the Ukrainian Canadian community in the first third of the 20thcentury through love letters and love stories.
Letter writing in the Ukrainian Canadian community is at the center of this exhibit: from poetic traditions brought from the Old Country to new ones established in Canada. Exploring this cultural phenomenon, we showcase “how-to” Ukrainian publications, such as “How to Write Letters” and “A Guide for Lovers”, as well as letters from almanacs satirizing the mixed Ukrainian and English language used by immigrants adapting to a new culture.
We also present places connected to romance and letter writing: post offices and photo studios. Post offices played a very important role in the lives of Ukrainian Canadians: this is where letters were mailed and received. Photo studios provided images to include with the letters, and helped to preserve private histories in family albums. We feature the first Ukrainian post master and his Canada Post office “Wostok,” as well as a rural photo studio operated by Lena and Thomas Gushul.
For Ukrainians in Canada, the search for love manifested itself in different scenarios and led down different pathways. Some left their loved ones in the Old Country, working hard to build a life in Canada and to earn enough money to be reunited with them. A number of eligible bachelors from the Ukrainian Canadian community tried, often successfully, to “mail-order” a wife from the Old Country. Some were looking for “a nice Ukrainian girl” in Canada. We do not avoid the tragic pages in the history of Ukrainians in Canada, and include letters speaking about the World War I internment camps.
With love and best wishes,
The Curators: Nataliya Bezborodova, Ashley Halko-Addley, Jelena Pogosjan, Tatiana Saburova, Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn, and Lina Shaw.
Partners: Alberta Society for the Advancement of Ukrainian Studies, Friends of the Ukrainian Folklore Centre, Ukrainian Pioneers Association of Alberta
Sponsored by: Alberta Culture and Tourism, Community Initiatives Program
Editors: Jars Balan, Maryna Chernyavska, Andrij Makuch, Jelena Pogosjan
Translators: Nataliya Bezborodova, Jennifer Boivin, Ruth Lysak-Martynkiw
Designer: Tanya Mykytiuk
Coordinator: Lynnien Pawluk
Acknowledgments: Angie Friesen, Bohdan Kordan, James Kominowski, John Leeson, Ruth Lysak-Martynkiw, Bohdan Medwidsky, Lynnien Pawluk, Mark Minenko, Oksana Kuryliw, Orasia Yereniuk, Orest Martynowych, Peter Melnycky, Peter Rolland, Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre Oseredok.