Medwidsky, Bohdan

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Medwidsky, Bohdan

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born 1936

History

Bohdan Medwidsky was born in 1936 in Stanislaviv in interwar Poland (present day Ivano-Frankivs'k in Ukraine) in the family of Konstantyn and Natalia (nee Lebedowych) Medwidsky. He was separated from his family at the age of 2, and grew up in Switzerland where he learned to speak French and German. When he was 12, he was reunited with his family in Vienne and that's where he first met his younger brother Wolodymyr. The family came to Canada on a ship from Hamburg to Quebec City as a post-WWII refugee in 1949. They settled in Toronto, where Bohdan's family operated a pharmacy. Both Bohdan and Wolodymyr were active in Plast, Ukrainian scouts organization. The family attended St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic church, a converted Presbyterian building, whose members were almost all also recent Ukrainian immigrants.

Bohdan attended Huron school in Toronto in his first year, then switched to Howard Park. He attended Humberside High School. He enjoyed history best among all his subjects. When he completed high school, Bohdan continued on to university. He was interested in furthering his Ukrainian studies, and chose that as his major field. He was quite committed to academics, and knew early that he wanted to continue into graduate school. His parents didn’t particularly push him to become a Ukrainianist, but neither did they discourage it.

Bohdan di his graduate studies at the University of Toronto. Toronto had a well developed Russian program, but little Ukrainian studies at that time. There were two graduate courses in Ukrainian literature, taught by Professor George Luckyj. Though Bohdan had declared a research interest in Ukrainian linguistics, he attended more classes on Russian literature than Ukrainian, and more on Ukrainian literature than linguistics. Professor Luckyj’s own research specialization dealt with Ukrainian literary politics in the early Soviet period. Bohdan’s classmate Danylo Struk pushed to be allowed to write his dissertation on a Ukrainian literature topic, rather than a Russian one, which in a way paved the way for Bohdan who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the language of Vasyl' Stefanyk's novels.

After a short teaching contract at Carlton University in Ottawa, he moved to Edmonton in 1971, when he received a teaching position at the University of Alberta. In 1977, he offered his first class in Ukrainian Folklore. Soon after, several class offerings grew into a graduate program in Ukrainian Folklore, third folklore program in Canada to offer both master's and PhD degrees. Medwidsky became the founder of the Ukrainian Folklore Archives and in 1989, established the Ukrainian Folklore Archives Endowment Fund.

Over the years, Dr. Medwidsky was very active in professional societies in Alberta, Canada, and abroad, as well as in numerous Ukrainian community organizations. In the late 1970s, he served to develop bilingual Ukrainian school programs in Alberta supported by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. He was a founding member of the Ministerial Advisory Board to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in 1982. Bohdan Medwidsky served on the board of the Friends of the Ukrainian Village Society, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Association of Ukrainian Writers Slovo, the Alberta Society for Advancement of Ukrainian Studies, the Ukrainian Pioneers Association of Alberta, the Alberta Ukrainian Commemorative Society, the Western Canadian Branch of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and many other organizations.

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