Jacyk, Petro

Jacyk, Petro (Яцик, Петро; Peter), b 7 July 1921 in Synevidsko Vyzhnie, Stryi county, Galicia, d 1 November 2001 in Mississauga, Ontario. Businessman, civic activist, and patron of Ukrainian higher learning. After emigrating to Canada in 1949, he became a successful building and land developer and established Prombank Investment and the Jacyk Group. At the same time he was an active philanthropist, particularly in the field of Ukrainian studies.

Jacyk was a founding member of the Patronat NTSh and a supporter of the Entsyklopediia ukraïnoznavstva project in Sarcelles, France. From the 1960s he assisted the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) by donating money, raising funds, and serving on the institute’s visiting committee. He financed the Petro Jacyk Collection of Ukrainian Serials at the University of Toronto Library in Toronto. In 1989 the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research was established at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton with a one-million-dollar donation from Jacyk and a double matching grant from the province of Alberta. Through the Petro Jacyk Education Foundation he supported other initiatives in Ukrainian scholarship and education, including the endowment of the Petro Jacyk Lectureship in Ukrainian Studies at the University of North London (now part of London Metropolitan University, 1991); providing the start-up funds for the Petro Jacyk Ukrainian Studies Unit at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London (1991); the creation of the Petro Jacyk Visiting Professorship in Ukrainian Studies at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute in New York (1993); the establishment of the Petro Jacyk Central and East European Resource Centre at the University of Toronto Library (1994); the creation of the Petro Jacyk Endowment Fund at Harvard University, which provides permanent support for the Petro Jacyk Bibliographer at HURI as well as (since 1997) the Petro Jacyk Distinguished Fellowship program; and the establishment of the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine at the University of Toronto’s Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. After Mr. Jacyk’s passing, his daughter Nadia headed the Foundation, which continues to be a major benefactor in Ukrainian studies, most recently with the establishment of the CIUS Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Modern Ukrainian History and Society.

The International Ukrainian Language Competition, intended to foster greater knowledge and use of the Ukrainian language among youth, was launched in 2000–2001 with Jacyk’s assistance (language being an issue about which he felt strongly). After Jacyk’s death in the latter part of 2001, the competition was renamed in his honor. Jacyk was also a great admirer of the work of Mykhailo Hrushevsky, and he made the translation of his monumental, 10-volume Istoriia Ukraïny-Rusy (History of Ukraine-Rus’) a condition of the donation which established the Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research.

Jacyk urged other wealthy Ukrainians to follow his example, and was a driving force in the League of Ukrainian Philanthropists. Mykhailo Slaboshpytsky’s biography of Jacyk, Ukraïnets', iakyi vidmovyvsia buty bidnym (A Ukrainian Who Refused to be Poor), appeared in 1994. A second, revised edition came out in 2002 as Metsenat, iakyi ne vidmovyvsia buty ukraïntsem (A Philanthropist Who did not Refuse to be a Ukrainian). An English-language biography of Jacyk, written by John Lawrence Reynolds, was published ін 2013 under the title Leaving Home: The Remarkable Life of Peter Jacyk.

[This article was updated in 2021.]

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