Eleniak, Wasyl

Eleniak, Wasyl [Jelynjak, Vasyl’], b 22 December 1859 in Nebyliv, Kalush county, Galicia, d 12 January 1956 in Mundare (buried in Chipman), Alberta. Eleniak and Ivan Pylypow, another peasant from Nebyliv, were the first Ukrainians clearly documented to have settled in Canada (they came initially in 1891). Their arrival helped to stimulate further Ukrainian immigration to the country. After spending some time in Manitoba, Eleniak homesteaded in the Edna-Star colony in the Northwest Territories (near present-day Chipman, Alberta) in 1898. In the late 1930s and 1940s he and Pylypow gained renown as being the ‘first’ Ukrainian pioneer settlers in Canada. In 1947, in a special ceremony in Ottawa, Eleniak, representing Ukrainians in Canada collectively, was one of the first four Canadians to receive a citizenship certificate. After the ceremony he posed for what has become a well-known portrait shot by acclaimed photographer Y. Karsh, also one of the citizenship recipients. Eleniak has been honored in monuments and plaques in both Chipman and his native village of Nebyliv. His life in chronicled in M. Nay’s Trailblazers of Ukrainian Emigration to Canada: Wasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pylypow (1997).

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