Mary Kiceluk

Title

Mary Kiceluk

Description

A biography of AUUC member Mary Kiceluk, detailing her and her families activities with the AUUC.

Type

Text

Rights

Reproduction may be restricted. Contact AUUC.

Coverage

Vancouver, BC

Language

English

Birth Date

1892

Birthplace

Yezupil, Ukraine

Biographical Text

Mary Kiceluk was born in the village of Yezupil in the Stanislav Province of Ukraine in 1892. Her parents were farmers of average means and the family was small - her parents, two brothers, and herself. She was not educated formally as she was taken out of school in her first year to work at home as her mother had work to do in the fields. She wanted very much to learn; she cried and pleaded with her parents to no avail. Instead, Mary stayed at home to bake and cook for her family.

Her father, John Grywinski, and older brother, Mike, went to Canada in 1907 where they found life very difficult. However, they managed to each get a farm, and John returned to Ukraine in 1910, sold his property there, and took the rest of the family to Canada. The family travelled from Yezupil to Halych, to Lviv and then through Prussia to Antwerp where they boarded a chip for Canada. Conditions on board the ship were shocking - crowded unsanitary living spaces and terrible food. They landed at the port of St. John in New Brunswick, then travelled by train through Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba. After purchasing a pair of oxen, two cows, a sleigh, a wagon, and a year's food supply of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast, the family travelled by covered wagon to Fischer Branch, Manitoba, where the homestead was. It took three days to reach their destination from Winnipeg, a distance of some forty miles.

Mary returned to Winnipeg in 1911 when her mother needed surgery that could only be performed there. It was then that she met Anton Kiceluk and they were married a few weeks later. Anton wanted to move to a farm so they moved to a homestead not far from Mary's parents in 1914 and stayed on the farm until 1917, at which time they returned to Winnipeg. Anton was already a member of the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association and Mary joined the Women's Branch of the ULFTA in 1924 and began serving on the branch's executive committee. When a Women's Branch was organized in Point Douglas, Mary was elected chair of the executive and in 1938 she was elected member of the Central Committee of the Women's Section of the ULFTA. She helped organize a Women's Choir of forty singers as well as gave time to work in kitchens for banquets, celebrations, picnics, and conventions. She also helped organize committees in Point Douglas that fought for better quality relief for the unemployed.

In 1945, Mary and Anton moved to Vancouver where they immediately began to take an active part in the AUUC. Mary got a job at White Lunch Bakery in Vancouver but in 1948 she was fired from work fro trade union activity. She was very fond of the stage and was active in the dramatic activities at the Hall for many years. She liked to cook so could always be found preparing food for all kinds of events. She was specially known for her apple pies and would bake fifty pies to be sold at the bazaars. She also took part in various humanitarian campaigns - aid for the victims of the flooding of Western Ukraine, aid for political prisoners in Poland and Canada, campaigns for orphans from Ukraine, campaigns for aid to the children of Cuba and Vietnam.

She stated, "I am very happy to have been involved in the progressive Ukrainian movement. Of course there were good times and bad times. successes and failures. If we, as a whole, succeeded in improving our living conditions, it is in large measure thanks to our organizations and to each one of us as individuals. And I rejoice in this. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from my work in the organization."

Citation

“Mary Kiceluk,” Association of United Ukrainian Canadians - Vancouver, accessed April 18, 2021, https://auucvancouver.digitalhistoryhub.com/items/show/173.