Turning the pages back...

March 14, 1910

In the early 1900s, Canada's Ukrainian community was being pulled away from its rural, Church-dominated conservatism in two directions: towards socialism and towards liberal nationalism.

To activists like Taras Ferley, the cultivation of national identity and pride took precedence over fostering international working class solidarity. Early in 1910, his circle, consisting mostly of students from the Ruthenian Training School and members of the Ukrainian Teachers' Association, established the Ukrainian Publishing Company. On March 14, 1910, they launched the weekly Ukrainskyi Holos, which became the oldest continuously published Ukrainian newspaper in Canada. Its first editor was Vasyl Kudryk, one of the country's enduring lightning rods for controversy, who held the post until 1921.

The first paper in Canada and one of the first in the world to call itself "Ukrainian" instead of "Ruthenian" or "Rusyn," it was committed to the principles of popular enlightenment, education and economic self-reliance.

The paper's editors were soon attacked as atheists and rebels by the Ukrainian Catholic Church, both by those less inclined to kowtow to the Canadian Latin hierarchy as well as the more accommodationist Basilians. Ukrainskyi Holos responded in kind, decrying its opponents for a lack of national consciousness. However, its writers saved the most acidic bile for Archbishop Louis Langevin and the French Canadian Roman Catholic clergy.

When bilingual Ukrainian-English education came under attack from the Anglo Canadian establishment in the mid 1910s, Ukrainskyi Holos came fiercely to its defense. Orest Zerebko, one of the paper's contributors who later served as editor-in-chief, maintained that Canada had never been, and was certainly no longer, an "English" country, contending that Anglo Canadians might have seized it from the native peoples, but presently Canada belonged to all peoples who labored to make it their homeland. This brought threats of censorship and outright closure of the newspaper.

During the struggle for Ukraine's independence, the paper supported the Central Rada, the Ukrainian National Republic government headed by Symon Petliura, and even mounted a campaign in support of a bond issued by the Western Ukrainian National Republic.

The paper was a major force in the establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, becoming its official organ in 1918. Under its second editor, Myroslaw Stechishin (1921-1947), the weekly became closely tied to the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League and various other lay Orthodox organizations, which it was instrumental in founding.

In 1973, it included a monthly supplement devoted to literature, scholarship and the arts. In 1981, it merged with a long-time competitor, Kanadiiskyi Farmer (Canadian Farmer).

Sources: Orest Martynowych, "Ukrainians in Canada: The Formative Years, 1891-1924," (Edmonton: CIUS Press, 1991); "Ukrainskyi Holos," Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Vol. 5 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, March 8, 1998, No. 10, Vol. LXVI

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