Ihor Kuryliw passed away peacefully in hospital in Toronto on June 4, 2022 after a tenacious 4 year battle with cancer. He was deeply loved and will be missed by his wife of 52 years, Valentina, son Peter (Melissa Russell), daughter Ulyana (Daniel Kuzmycz) and granddaughter Nina, his sisters Sonia and Oksana (John Leeson) sister-in-law Lydia (Daniel Huzyk) as well as numerous relatives and friends both in Canada, the USA and Ukraine.
Ihor was born and lived in Sudbury, Canada and taught History and Music for 8 years at Lasalle Secondary School. He moved to Toronto in 1973, where he became a co-owner, and later owner, of Canada’s first Ukrainian travel bureau, the popular “Bloor Travel Agency,” until he retired in 2016. This agency was one of the first to organize tours to Ukraine, as well as to different parts of the world. Ihor’s love of travel led to his exploring the globe. With his wife, the couple visited many countries and continents throughout their marriage.
Ihor Kuryliw was an active member of the Ukrainian community in Sudbury and Toronto. In Sudbury, he was a member of MYHO (the Ukrainian National Youth Federation of Canada) and served in various roles on its executive. Under the direction of Andrew Gregorowich, they started the newsletter MYN Beams (pronounced “moon beams”), publishing at least 60 issues between 1955 and 1966. Ihor’s collection of MYN Beams was recently digitized by Ihor Prociuk, leaving a rich social history of MYHO across Canada. In 1966, he became its national president. In Toronto, Ihor served as secretary for the COSBILD Club, issuing grants for various Ukrainian Canadian community projects. In later years, he was a prominent member of the “Hole in One” exclusive tennis group in Toronto, amongst other community organizations such as the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club executive and St. Vladimir’s Institute board.
Ihor Kuryliw was influenced by his father’s love of music and became a talented musician who played the violin, the bandura, the alto horn and the piano during different phases of his life. At a young age he learned how to play the violin so well that he soon began playing in the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra. He sang with the Ukrainian National Federation choir and danced with MYHO. Taught to play and build the bandura by Myroslav Diakowsky, he headed the bandura workshop at Soyuzivka in New York State for one summer. He performed in a group of male bandurists during his university years in Toronto.
Ihor was a proud member and treasurer of the Canadian Ukrainian Opera Association where he also sang in the opera chorus, and a member of the singing “Prut River Boys” in Toronto for many years.
For more information about his personal life, please view the videotaped interview with Ihor (English language) that is part of the “Oral History of Ukrainian Canada” (OHUC) project of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in Toronto.
Interview link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFaGpwTLdu8
The Panachyda for Ihor was held on June 9, 2022 at the Cardinal Funeral Home in Toronto. There were over 200 mourners present. The Funeral service was held on June 10, 2022 at All Saints of Ukraine Chapel, at the St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre, in Oakville and her was interred at the Ukrainian Cemetery of St. Volodymyr in Oakville. At the panakhyda service, Father Y. Buciora was accompanied by the sounds of the “Prut River Boys” of which Ihor was a member.
Ihor’s godson Franko Diakovsky MC’d the memorial luncheon remembrances for over 130 family and friends at the St. Volodymyr Cutlural Centre, and gave a presentation highlighting numerous special moments in Ihor’s life. The atmosphere was solemn but very friendly and warm as numerous people spoke of Ihor’s humanity, humility, love and empathy for others. The family thanks the many people who attended and donated to CUF’s #HelpUkraineNow Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal in Ihor’s memory.
“I will always remember how animated Ihor was when discussing his love of hiking,” wrote Dr. Michael Kondracki. “Whether it be the trails of Austria, Bavaria or Switzerland…That is how I will remember him, on a mountain trail, hiking, on his way to the Gates of Heaven. Rest in Peace, my friend.”
Walter and Alexandra Savich stated, “Ihor was always a soft-spoken and peaceful person, always calm and friendly. This is the way we will remember him. He helped to settle my family in Canada. We think it was his destiny in this world – to help.”
“Ihor is such an amazing example of a truly good human being, of a loving and supportive husband, an engaged and curious intellect, and a good-natured, kind person who spread cheer wherever he was. He was talented and playful in his thinking and had wide-ranging interests, was generous and inclusive and charitable. He was a loyal and caring brother and a husband who was exemplary in his fierce support of his wife’s lifelong projects,” wrote Sophia Isajiw.
May His Memory Be Eternal!