Category Archives: book

A Ukrainian Canadian Julia Child and more: Savella Stechishin

If tomrrow’s DVD release of Julie & Julia is inspiring you to cook, don’t forget there was a Ukrainian Canadian version who paved the way for her prairie peers with her own brand of Ukrainian cooking, art, history and grammar books more than half a century ago:

Savella Stechishin (née Wawryniuk) worked to secure the integration of Ukrainian Canadian women into Canadian society while maintaining their Ukrainian heritage. Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

Savella Stechishin was born in Tudorkovychi, Lviv Oblast, of Western Ukraine (Galicia), and her family emigrated to Canada in 1913, settling in Krydor, Saskatchewan. At age 17 she married Julian Stechyshyn, rector of the Petro Mohyla Institute in Saskatoon, and later bore three children, Anatole, Myron, and Zenia. She completed high school and teachers college, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in Home Economics from the University of Saskatchewan in 1930, the first Ukrainian woman to receive a degree there. Wikipedia

She was the first Ukrainian Canadian woman to graduate from the University of Saskatchewan (1930), and the first Ukrainian woman in canada to graduate with a specialization in home economics. Ukrainian Weekly

She led an amazing life, heading up many womens’ organizations and stressing the importance of health and nutrition. She has had so many accomplishments in her life I couldn’t find the time to summarize them all, so I encourage you to read the Ukrainian Weekly article about her life and death – it’s quite amazing.

Shechishin’s most prominent book is the English-language Traditional Ukrainian Cookery (1957), which saw its eighteenth reprinting in 1995 and has sold 80,000 copies. Her other books are in Ukrainian: Art Treasures of Ukrainian Embroidery (1950), and a 50th anniversary book for the Saskatoon branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association (1975). She assisted her husband, Julian Stechishin, with a Ukrainian Grammar (1951), and completed his History of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada (1971) after his death—an English translation was published in 1992. Ukrainian Weekly

These books are unfortunately out of print, with no republishing date scheduled in the near future. If you are lucky enough to have a copy of these books, please treasure them and make sure to put them to good use. If you can’t find Traditional Ukrainian Cookery at your local used bookstore or library there are some recipes scattered across the internet – definitely a good resource to have for Christmas!

Here’s one of her recipes re-published in The pioneer cook : a historical view of Canadian Prairie food:

A biography about her life is also available: Blossoming of a Ukrainian Canadian Savella Stechishin

Elizabeth Bachinsky gets in touch with the darker side of her Ukrainian heritage in her latest book (Updated)

From Uptown Magazine (Winnipeg):

Vancouver-based poet Elizabeth Bachinsky got in touch with her Ukrainian heritage with her new book, God of Missed Connections (Nightwood Editions).

“I’m third generation Vancouver and we’re pretty closed off from that culture,” she says.

“It’s a really good vantage point,” she adds. “I never tried the superficial stuff like dancing or food. That’s the stuff I wanted to get past. You have to take those kitschy qualities and transform them. It’s about taking Ukrainian culture into the post-modern. It’s hard to do but not impossible.

“Ukrainians are deadly sexy.”
The poems cover Bachinsky’s family history and Stephen Leacock’s casual racism, Canadian internment camps and forced starvation in the old country. The Bread Basket of Europe gives new, terrifying meaning to a cliché I often heard growing up. She makes poignant use of the word Holodomor (or “murder by hunger,” referring to the millions who staved to death under Stalin).

“I get corrected all the time after readings,” she says. “I like to be corrected. It means to me that things aren’t getting through the way they should. It’s the nuances that get missed, not the big historical facts. Which are the story, but not the whole story.”

Buy the book from Amazon

Update: I found an interview with her done from Agora:

EB: I wanted to write the book I couldn’t find. When I began this project I found it fascinating how many (hundreds!) of academic texts, memoirs, interviews, short stories, poems, documentary films, videos, paintings, collages, sculptures, websites, blogs, etc. are dedicated to the history of Ukraine and of Ukrainians in Canada—yet very few of these resources are produced by Ukrainian-Canadian authors of my generation. And almost none of these are creative works. I practically fell over when I found work by Lisa Grekul whose first novel Kalyna’s Song (Coteau, 2003) is the coming-of-age story of a third-generation Ukrainian Canadian girl who grows up in northeastern Alberta and southern Africa. I also took a lot of interest in a website called Poetry International Web where you can read poetry in translation by Ukrainian poets born between 1954-1974. I was particularly impressed with poems by Andriy Bondar, Halyna Krouk, Yuri Andrukhovych…all the Ukrainian poets you’ll find on that website, actually. It seemed to me that my poetry was often in conversation with those young poets in Ukraine. And Lisa Grekul’s fantastic book of essays, Leaving Shadows, gave valuable context for my work here in Canada.

It is important to say, I think, that I wrote God of Missed Connections from a place of ignorance. I had never, for example, heard of Holodomor or the internment operations during the First World War that saw between five and six thousand Ukrainian Canadians imprisoned. And I’m not ashamed to say I was ignorant. Ignorance is the resource that made me seek out the works of Myrna Kostash, Helen Potrebenko, Andy Suknaski, Natalka Hussar, and countless others. But, of course, in the act of inquiry there is always the problem of selectivity. Robert N. Proctor writes in his book Agnotology: the Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Stanford University Press, 2008):

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Discovering a hidden Ukrainian Canadian ebook repository

With Sony unveiling a new ebook reader across Canada last weekend, I stumbled upon an e-book repository called Our Roots that is a Canadian initiative to digitize books that cover Canada’s diverse nationalities and Ukraine is quite represented!

There were so many books on the Ukrainian Canadian experience that I couldn’t possibly list them all (but that shouldn’t stop you from trying). Here are some notable ones I’ve come across:

 Svieto : celebrating Ukrainian-Canadian ritual in east central Alberta through the generations


  Ukrainian people places : the Ukrainians, Germans, Mennonites, Hutterites and Doukhobors and the names they brought to Saskatchewan


Ukrainian Pioneer Days in Early Years 1898-1916 in Alvena and District, Sask.


Ukrainian rite Catholic Church : an account of church activities in Calgary


Ukrainian vernacular architecture in Alberta



Vita : a Ukrainian community : it’s background and beginnings.

Maple leaf and trident : the Ukrainian Canadians during the second World War

Heroes of their day : the reminiscences of Bohdan Panchuk

Hawaiian ordeal : Ukrainian contract workers, 1897-1910

Pioneer profiles : Ukrainian settlers in Manitoba

Hardships & progress of Ukrainian pioneers : memoirs from Stuartburn colony and other points

Spruce, swamp and stone : a history of the pioneer Ukranian settlements in the Gimli area

Reflections and reminiscences : Ukrainians in Canada, 1892-1992

Multiculturalism and Ukrainian Canadians : identity, homeland ties, and the community’s future

Between two worlds : the memoirs of Stanley Frolick


Galicia and Bukovina : a research handbook about Western Ukraine, late 19th and 20th centuries

Author hunts Ukrainian stories

From the Edmonton Sun:

Alberta is a rich bastion of Ukrainian heritage, full of stories that Danny Evanishen says need preserving.

But he’s worried those memories are fading.

In fact, he guesses that there may be nobody left in the entire region who saw firsthand the development of the West by Ukrainian immigrants, some coming as late as the 1930s.

“If they came in 1930, and they were 20 years old at the time, how old does that make them now? 90?” said Evanishen, who lives in Summerland, B.C.

He’s spent nearly 20 years collecting stories directly from pioneers.

Evanishen is now looking to add more volumes to more than a dozen books he’s penned retelling tales and fables of the Ukrainian immigrant culture. He wants to hear stories that have been passed down through the generations.

You can find the rest of his Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian books here.

Correcting a book on Amazon

Earlier this week I noticed on that this book was listed as ‘Ukranian Cooking’.  Luckily it was very easy to fix, at the bottom of the product page under the ‘Feedback’ section you can update the product information.  I went to the page and filled out the form with the correct information and in a few days it was processed and I got my message:

Thank you for using the Catalog Update Form
to send suggestions for Festive Ukranian Cooking
(ASIN 0822936461)

Your update has been accepted and processed. It
will appear online within the next two to three
business days.

Attribute: Title
Current value: Festive Ukranian Cooking
Your suggestion: Festive Ukrainian Cooking

If you want something done you have to do it yourself!  Don’t be afraid to make these corrections, it’s a more common spelling mistake then you think and needs to be corrected.