Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My good friend Marvin Marykuca wrote this after his whole clan traveled with me to Ukraine on the occasion of his and Elsie's families celebrating their Centenary of settlement in Canada.  What a group of wonderful people, what a trip!  Truly memorable.  And they were all still speaking to each other at the end of the tour!  ;-}      My thanks to Marvin for permission to use this here.

Ukraine: Return to the Source                                    by Marvin Marykuca

Our intent to visit Ukraine germinated while Elsie and I were still living in the Northwest Territories.  During our long association with the Ukrainian community in Yellowknife we were often asked whether we had ever visited Ukraine.  Our response was always, “Not yet!” This gave our northern friends and acquaintances, only some of whom were of Ukrainian extraction, the sense that we would indeed make such a visit one day.  When at long last we decided to go, twenty-four relatives…, friends and acquaintances elected to join us.  This was particularly special for us as we knew closely almost everyone on the tour with us.  It gave us a marvellous opportunity to share a great experience with a group of wonderful people, friends and relatives alike.   The entire experience was further enhanced by the fact that Orysia Tracz, a dear friend of some 35 years’ standing and a veteran traveler to Ukraine, was our tour leader and guide.  In fact it is her expression   -- “Return to the Source” -- that we have borrowed as a title for this article.  The tour was absolutely chockful of highlights of every sort, -- the restaurants, the shopping, the cultural experiences, the churches, the museums, the entertainment, the views and the vistas --- selected by Orysia leave us fully satisfied that we could hardly have squeezed more activities and adventure into our trip.  Her constant good humour and tireless efforts to maximize everyone’s enjoyment of the experience was exceeded only by her dead-sure knowledge of exactly where we would find another good, cold Ukrainian beer, an absolute must in the high heat of a Ukrainian August…..    

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[The family reunion] -- The venue for this wonderful hospitality was the home and yard of other relatives residing in the village.  The food was excellent, the vodka, beer and champagne flowed, the music played and the grass in the back yard suffered serious trauma at the feet, some shod and some not, of the entire group.  Elsie and I felt humbled by this expression of generosity extended not only to us as family members but also to our friends on the tour with us. 

This, for us, was the absolute highlight of the trip as it confirmed for us how deeply rooted must be our family traditions of sharing our lives with family and friends as it has obviously survived and indeed flourished in both Canada and Ukraine despite the separation imposed by an ocean, systems of government and the passage of one hundred years.

Our walking tour of the village took us to several relatives’ homes, to the church, the cemetery and past the home and building sites where our immigrating grandparents lived and worked before their departure for Canada.  We were greeted by villagers whose family names again stirred memories of our childhood in [Manitoba], and hearkened back to the stories our parents and grandparents had told us so long ago about their remembrances of the “old country”.

The tour wound up in Lviv, a beautiful city whose attractions deserved much more time than we could give them, but then that same comment applies to all of the places we visited and even more so to the relatives with whom our visits were sometimes so brief, though unavoidably so, as to make us feel almost unmannerly in our early departures.

Our two-week experience in Ukraine assured us of only one thing, and that is that we would love to go back for another visit  ---  again, a “Return to the Source”.  It would be especially interesting to spend more time with the relatives with whom we have now established contact and to close the gap between us that the past 100 years have opened. 

                                       7 - 21 August, 2007

[with permission – M. Marykuca]

If you want to experience all this fun, join us this coming fall!  Check here:


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