Boyd, John

Boyd, John or Boychuk, Ivan [Бойчук, Іван], b 26 January 1913 in Edmonton, Alberta, d 26 May 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. Journalist, editor, and political activist. The son of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada (both of his parents were delegates to the Second Congress of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party of Canada held in Winnipeg in 1917), Boyd grew up in Vegreville, Alberta, and then in Thorold, Ontario, where his family moved in 1923. As a teenager he became active in the Youth Section of the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) and was elected president of the local youth branch at age thirteen. He also became a member of Young Communist League (YCL). He was expelled from school in 1930 because he refused to join the high school cadet corps, a campaign initiated by the YCL. In 1930, he attended the six-month Higher Education Course of the ULFTA in Winnipeg, where he was the youngest student. In Winnipeg, he edited the official organ of the ULFTA Youth Section, Boiova molod' in 1930–32. He was elected national secretary of the ULFTA Youth Section in 1931. In 1933 he resigned from this post and was appointed YCL organizer in Alberta for the years 1933–34. He moved to Toronto in 1934 and worked as editor of The Young Worker. In 1935 he joined the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) and began to work as business manager at the Daily Clarion and then on the editorial staff until the newspaper was banned by the federal government in 1939. Already known informally as John Boyd, he changed his name legally in June 1940.

In 1940 Boyd moved to Winnipeg and worked in the People’s Co-operative, then in 1941 he became manager of the Co-op creamery in Minnedosa, Manitoba. In 1942 he moved again to Toronto and became business manager of Canadian Tribune. In 1944 he was elected as trustee to the Toronto Board of Education. Boyd enlisted in the Canadian Army in the summer of 1944 and became editor of the monthly military magazine, The Signalman. After his discharge from the army in 1946, he was re-elected as trustee to the Toronto Board of Education in 1947 but was defeated when he stood for the third term in 1948. He edited the English-language page in Ukraïns’ke zhyttia (Winnipeg) and later served on the staff of The Ukrainian Canadian. He was a member of the national committee of the Labor Progressive Party (LPP) and attended LPP School in 1948. In 1947 Boyd was appointed executive secretary of the Canadian Slav Committee and served in this position for six years. He became president of the first English-speaking branch of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC) in Toronto. As a member of the national committee of the Canadian Peace Congress in 1950, he attended World Peace Conferences in the Soviet Union, England, Poland, and China in 1950–51. In 1952, as secretary of the Canadian Slav Committee, he was a Canadian delegate to the Asian and Pacific Peace Conference in China. In 1954 he became chairman of the National Concert Tour Committee of the Canada-Soviet Union Friendship Society and in 1956, managing director of the Jerome Concerts and Artists Ltd. He was elected to the Central Committee, Central Executive Committee in 1956, and Secretariat of the Communist Party of Canada.

In 1958 Boyd visited the Soviet Union for medical treatment. After his return later in 1958, he was appointed editor-in-chief of The Canadian Tribune and held this position until 1967. In 1960 he visited Cuba after the Cuban Revolution. In 1962 Boyd visited the Soviet Union again to attend the fiftieth jubilee celebration of the newspaper Pravda (Moscow) and met with several Soviet leaders including Nikita Khrushchev. In August 1967 he was appointed CPC representative for two years on the editorial board of the World Marxist Review in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He was in Prague in August 1968 where he witnessed the military invasion of Czechoslovakia by four Warsaw Pact countries to crush the Prague Spring. Subsequently, he presented a brief to the CPC on the political events in Czechoslovakia that was critical of the Soviet Union. He resigned from the CPC Central Committee in October 1968. He returned to Canada and left the Communist Party of Canada in September 1969, but he maintained his membership in the AUUC.

Boyd continued his work as a journalist and edited several publications. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Shevchenko Musical Ensemble Guild of Canada and edited their newsletter. He remained politically active and when he was accused of criticizing the AUUC leadership, he resigned from the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians in 1979. Following his retirement in 1981, he gained a reputation as an artist and held several exhibits of his works. His memoirs, entitled A Noble Cause Betrayed ... But Hope Lives On, Pages from a Political Life, were published in 1999 by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.

Myron Momryk

[This article was written in 2023.]

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