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Former Educator and Department Head of History, and Owner of Bloor Travel Agency, now retired.

Date and Place of Birth: 1939 in Sudbury, ON.

Date of Interview: July 28, 2017

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 01:32:30 (total raw)


Interviewer:  So, have you travelled often to Ukraine over your lifetime?

IK: Well, being in the business, when Ukraina was still part of the Soviet Union, there was only one way of getting there and that was going through something called Intourist, which was the official travel agency of the Soviet Union. And Intourist had a procedure where they wanted somebody to accompany a group. Now I should step back for a moment. There were very few people who manage to go to Ukraine to visit family. The only way you would get to visit family unofficially was to go as a tourist, and to go as a tourist you were limited to 4 days in each city that you went to that were actually open. There were one or two that were closed, Ivano-Frankivsk being one of them, this is the city closest to where my family is. So, Intourist wanted an escort to bring the group over and to be with the group while you’re there, not to have any input about what’s going on, but at least to travel with the group. So as a result, I did go several times on that basis.

But I did go there the first time in 1965, on my own, there weren’t that many people going, either tourists or visiting family, but I managed somehow – well, as long as you pay you go as a tourist. So, I did spend 3 weeks there being in 7 different cities. And there was an interesting situation because Intourist ran your life while you were there. When you arrived at the airport they met you, brought you to your hotel, they knew which hotel you were supposed to be at. They would organize the tours, because that’s what it was all about. After 4 days in the first city they would bring you to the train station. When you arrived in the second city there was somebody right at the door of your ваґон [train car] because they knew exactly where you were supposed to be, brought you to the hotel, showed you tours. So it was one of those things. But in 1965, I insisted on having a guide who spoke either English or Ukrainian. They did have a problem a couple times in both languages. They didn’t have too many Ukrainian speakers in some cities whom they would want to send to meet a foreign tourist. I did have some English speakers and then mostly Ukrainian, ok? But they had a little problem with me because they saw that it was a Canadian passport, they saw that I was born in Sudbury, in Canada and that I still spoke Ukrainian – that sort of threw them for a loop a little bit. Now my Ukrainian was probably a little bit better than it is even today because I’d spent the year previous with Radio Liberty in Munich learning Ukrainian. I would speak into a tape, I would read something into a tape, and then one of the staffers at Radio Liberty would then correct my pronunciation and put in proper accents. So, here, a year later I was in Ukraine, and wanting everything to be in Ukrainian.


  1. Ihor Kuryliw's wife, Valentina Kuryliw, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #449 (Video). Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw on July 28, 2017 for the Oral History of Ukrainian Canada (OHUC) project

• Ihor Kuryliw’s wife, Valentina Kuryliw, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #362 Video CD. Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych on April 9, 2012 for the “Share the Story” project

• Ihor Kuryliw’s mother-in-law Nadia Mychajlowska, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #264 (video). Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych for “Share the Story” project (“Nadia’s Story”  ; ”Share the Story” project webpage)

• Ihor Kuryliw’s father-in-law Ivan Mychajlowskij, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #325 (Audio CDs: 6CDs, 6 hours). Interviewed by Victor Susak on Dec. 27, 1995 about his time in the Belomor Canal Ukrainian concentration camp in the 1930s and time spent as a forced labourer in Germany

• Ihor Kuryliw’s father Wasyl (Bill) featured in documentary film about his life Chapters and Verses: Action Bill’s Walk Through Life.

• Article on Ihor Kuryliw’s father Wasyl, Staff. “New documentary focuses on Sudbury community activist.” The Ukrainian Weekly New Jersey 25 Aug. 2017

• Obituary article on Ihor Kuryliw’s father Wasyl originally published in Sudbury’s Northern Life, in blog by Ihor’s sister Oksana. “Bill Kuryliw: Northern life.” JookJoint 18 March 2004

Kuryliw Fund at the Kule Folklore Centre, University of Alberta (1988):

  1. Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives – Kule Folklore Centre, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, Collection 0093 – Kuryliw Family collection

  1. Kuryliw Family Research Assistantship in Honour of Ivan Franko, Kule Folklore Centre, University of Alberta

excerpt from the Interview with IHOR KURYLIW

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org