Letters to/from the Old Country

Letters to/from the Old Country casts a spotlight on correspondence collections written between Canada and Ukraine. With a primary interest in those that have a Saskatchewan connection, Letters to/from the Old Country is unique in that, for the first time, research is being conducted on transatlantic letter-writing by Ukrainian Canadians and their kin in Ukraine.  The Letters project grew out of a larger research project on Diaspora, Homeland and the Ukrainian Other in the 20th century, initiated by Dr. Khanenko-Friesen in 2007, and as such, it has been supported by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2007-2011).

The goals of this project at the archival stage are:

  • To identify existing collections of letters
  • To collect originals and/or copies of such correspondence
  • To professionally archive the collected correspondence
  • To digitize the collected materials
  • To record interviews with    sending/receiving families when possible.

To date, we have collected several extended correspondence collections numbering in the hundreds of letters – many have been donated in the original. Though the primary objective is to document and analyze the content of the collections, the letters and envelopes themselves have proven to be beautiful works of art with colourful stamps, post marks, and lovely cursive handwriting. We now have the hope to one day create an exhibit of these artful objects.

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This kind of correspondence exists in many of our homes in old boxes, storage rooms, and attics, and in many cases, the writers are not even known anymore. However, as is evident in the collections already received by researchers at PCUH, this correspondence is often meticulously documented by the letter-writers themselves, and thus an extremely rich resource for studying cultural patterns in the Ukrainian community.

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We encourage anyone with collections or suggestions of where such collections could be obtained to contact PCUH via the email or phone information listed on this site. By assisting this project, you will help us discover more about Ukrainian heritage in Canada!