Ukrainian Immigrant Easter

Orthodox Cross Courtesy Wikimedia Commons Withgol the Webmaster

Orthodox Cross
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Withgol the Webmaster


My great grandparents, Stephan and Sanxira Tokaruk, along with my grandparents, Wasyl and Anna Huchulak, left Ukraine in 1898. They crossed Canada on the transcontinental railroad to become Alberta homesteaders.

In 2009 I went to a family reunion near Edmonton, where I gathered at our 1910 homestead with fifty first cousins whom I had never met. The clan helped me understand my mother’s childhood.  I wish there had been time to watch my cousin Judy design her intricately  patterned Ukrainian eggs.

We stopped at the onion-domed Orthodox Church filled with icons donated by my grandmother. The little cemetery is filled with pioneer graves. Every headstone bears the characteristic Ukrainian cross with its slanted crosspiece below the arms of the conventional cross.  After the long winter, descendants of these pioneers  gather at the cemetery for picnics on Orthodox Easter.

What a privilege it was to meet my mother’s family at last. While today’s shifting lifestyles often create a sense of impermanence, my trip “home” showed me that fragments of the Huchulak DNA have seeped through the generations in ongoing customs and habits.


8 responses

  1. That sounds like quite the trip for you. Nothing compared to that of your ancestors. Different in so many ways, of course. Still, I suppose it may have been quite moving for you.

    • Yes. It has been a moving discovery to learn of both my father, an early Seattle contractor who died when I was a month old, and my mother’s family background. So moving, in fact that after lots of research I’ve written a memoir about our lives that I hope to publish this winter in Seattle. It has been a fascinating journey. Nothing like learning about yourself by learning the history of your parents!

  2. Paula, I have visited your site as preparation for my minutes for last month’s DCPC Book Club meeting. With these “tidbits” that you have given us, I will look forward to The Book. You must also be our guest to present it to the club!

    • Thank you Jane, I will be honored to present to the club. Right now we hope to be ready by this coming winter. I still have a long way to go on social media, for instance I usually send out one blog a week—but last Friday I hit send instead of save and sent out too. Cyberspace is too fast!

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