[ Home ]  [ Canadian Bolsheviks ]  [ Documents Index ]  [ Reminiscences Index ] [ About ]

Ukrainian Socialists in Canada,
by Peter Krawchuk

Chapter One of Our History: The Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Movement in Canada, 1907-1991, by Peter Krawchuk. Translated from the Ukrainian by Mary Skrypnyk and edited by John Boyd.

Copyright © 1996, Lugus Publications, Toronto. Reproduced by the kind permission of the publisher and the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the publisher.

The Socialist History Project thanks Lugus Publications and the AUUC for allowing us to add this chapter to our website. We also thank Larissa Stavroff, the author’s daughter and executor, for her invaluable assistance.

When the Canadian Communist movement was born after World War I, a large portion of its founding members and supporters were socialists who had emigrated to Canada from Ukraine. In this chapter from his book on the Ukrainian left, historian Peter Krawchuk examines the origins and evolution of the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada, from its beginnings in the early 1900s to the time of the Russian Revolution.

Peter Krawchuk was born in western Ukraine in 1911. After he emigrated to Canada in 1930, lhe became active in the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA),  joining the staff of Ukrainski robitnychi visti (Ukrainian Labour News) in 1936. Over the next six decades, he wrote dozens of books, pamphlets and articles about the Ukrainian Left in Canada. He was president of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, the ULFTA’s successor organization, from 1979 to 1991. Peter Krawchuk died in Toronto in February 1997, not long after publication of his major work on the Ukrainian left in Canada, Our History: The Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Movement in Canada, 1907-1991.

Over 100,000 people came from Ukraine to Canada in  the 1890s, and by 1911 the number had grown to at least 215,000. Most settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta, and most hoped to make a living as farmers. Some of the immigrants had been active in socialist and revolutionary-democratic movements before coming to Canada. That immense migration is the background to Chapter One of Our History “The Birth of Organized Life.”

The first immigrants to Canada were peasants—mostly semi-literate or completely illiterate. True, one of the first two immigrants, Ivan Pylypiw, was literate, having attended the Stanislav gymnasium (secondary school) for a number of years. His partner, Vasyl Eleniak, was said to have been semi-literate, in that he read printed text in Ukrainian.

When mass immigration into Canada began in the second half of the 1890s, however, more and more of the new arrivals included people who were educated, who had participated in the cultural-educational activities in their towns or villages. These people set in motion the cultural-educational and artistic life among Ukrainian settlers. It is true that before this, in the early years, wherever there was a settlement of Ukrainians there were various forms of community life, but these were sporadic. They were largely social gatherings held from time to time on holidays, or events like weddings, christenings or feast days.

There were few Ukrainian priests or clergymen, either Uniate or Greek Orthodox (Bukovynian), during those early years; the people themselves performed the religious rituals. The director of such a gathering was either an old-country deacon or church elder. At these gatherings, people sang not only religious hymns and Christmas and Epiphany carols, but also secular and folk songs. Along with the reading clubs that sprang up, there were also small libraries. Some settlers subscribed to the Ukrainian (Ruthenian) paper Svoboda (Liberty), published in the United States, and even old country periodicals like Hromadskyi holos (Community Voice), Bukovyna, or Literaturno-naukovyi visnyk (Literary-Scientific Herald).

It was in the early 1900s, in Winnipeg, that an organized cultural, educational and artistic movement began among Ukrainian settlers in Winnipeg. Its initiator was Kyrylo Genyk. In 1903, he and two of his village compatriots, Ivan Bodrug and Ivan Negrych, founded the Taras Shevchenko Reading Club in Winnipeg, located in Genyk's home at 107 Euclid Avenue. Following Winnipeg's example, similar reading clubs began to appear in many other centres in Western Canada where compact settlements of Ukrainians existed. They were named for Ukrainian literary figures like Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Pavlyk, Mykhailo Drahomanov, and Markian Shashkevych.

The Shevchenko Reading Club in Winnipeg soon established an active program. On May 1, 1904, it organized a concert honouring Shevchenko, the first such Ukrainian concert in Canada. Two weeks later, the society's drama circle presented Hryhory Tsehlynsky's play The Argonauts, the first Ukrainian theatrical production in Canada.

Echoes of this organizational activity reached Eastern Galicia. Hromadskiy holos wrote that "a free community of our countrymen will arise in Canada."[1]

Organized community life began to take form not only in Winnipeg, but in other industrial towns of Western Canada where Ukrainian communities had become established. For example, on January 1, 1904, a reading society called Postup (Progress) was organized in Lethbridge, Alberta, which included in its membership, besides Ukrainian coal miners, people of other Slavic nationalities.

From their very beginning (in Winnipeg and Lethbridge) these reading clubs or societies met with a great deal of opposition from reactionary groups and individuals who did not wish to see the Ukrainian immigrant workers organized, especially since most of these societies were under the leadership of radicals and socialists. Particularly strong was the opposition from the clerics of the Ukrainian Catholic (Uniate) and Greek Orthodox (so-called 'independent') churches.

Moreover, within these organizations themselves, and in the Shevchenko Reading Club in particular, differences arose that eventually led to their disintegration. In 1906, a new organization, the Shevchenko Society, was formed in Winnipeg, which, M. Fedkiv wrote in Hromadskyi holos, "outlined for itself a fine program and aims"—to educate and organize the Rusyn-Ukrainians. Such people, who did not understand the aims of this organization, created a situation that led to a group of its members leaving and forming an organization they called Ukrainska vil'nodumna federatsia (Ukrainian Freethinkers Federation). It published a book, Nationalism and National Traditions, the first Ukrainian secular book produced in Canada.[2]

Three socialists, Myroslav Stechyshyn, Vasyl Holovatsky, and Pavlo Krat (who had just arrived from Europe), were members of the Naukove tovarystvo imeni Tarasa Shevchenka (Shevchenko Scientific Society) which was what the Freethinkers Fedederation now called itself. They were the founders of the first Ukrainian branch of the Socialist Party of Canada in Winnipeg in 1907. They also organized two more Ukrainian branches of the SPC that year: in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, and Nanaimo, B.C. Through the organizational and material efforts of these three branches, the newspaper Chervonyi prapor (Red Flag), the first Ukrainian socialist newspaper on the American continent, was published in Winnipeg. It ran from November 15, 1907, to August 8, 1908, for a total of 18 issues. Stechyshyn, Holovatsky, and Krat were its editors.

The newspaper was forced to close because of the economic crisis that swept Canada at the time, with harsh consequences for Ukrainian immigrant workers. They were unable to support the paper financially. The paper also lacked a strong organizational base, since the Ukrainian socialist movement was only in its formative stage.

Although Chervonyi prapor did not last long, it consistently followed the program proclaimed in its first issue. The paper planted a healthy seed in fertile soil, which in later years produced a bountiful harvest. It should be noted that at the time Chervonyi prapor appeared, two other Ukrainian newspapers were being published in Canada—Kanadyiskyi farmer, which started publication in 1903, and Ranok (Morning), which started in 1905. The former was financed by the Liberal Party, the latter by the Presbyterian church.

After the break-up of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, on April 16, 1909, some of its members began publishing the paper Ukrainskyi holos in 1910. A number of the paper's supporters formed the Narodovetska hromada (Populist community), which later became the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League, under the leadership of Dmytro Ferley (also known as T.D. Ferley, and at times as Taras Ferley). With him in the leadership were Yaroslav Arsenych, Vasyl Swystun, Vasyl Kudryk and Orest Zherebko.

The Federation of Ukrainian Social-Democrats

On May 3, 1909, a new period for the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada began with the appearance of the paper Robochyi narod (The Working People), which proclaimed itself "the organ of the Ukrainian socialists in Canada and the United States." It was published by the Ukrainian Socialist Publishing Company and was edited by Myroslav Stechyshyn.

The first issue carried an account of what led to the dissolution of the Shevchenko Scientific Association, which during its early years played a positive role among Ukrainian workers in Winnipeg but later became the arena of relentless struggle between the socialist and nationalist factions.

There was a rapid growth of the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada in 1908-1909. While in 1907 there were only three Ukrainian branches of the Socialist Party of Canada (in Winnipeg, Portage La Prairie and Nanaimo) with a total of 101 members, by the end of 1909 there were branches in Edmonton, Calgary, Hosmer, Phoenix, Brandon, Montréal, Vancouver, Cardiff and Canmore. In one of its early issues in 1910, Robochyi narod reported that there "were great prospects that branches would soon be established in Lethbridge, Hillcrest, Coleman and Dauphin" and that on December 17, 1909, "a reading club named after Myroslav Sichynsky was organized in Wostok, which accepted the socialist platform."[3]

The Ukrainian branches of the SPC conducted community-political activities as designated in the party's platform. For example, Chervonyi prapor called on Ukrainian settlers to vote for the Socialist Party candidate, G.D. Houston, running in the Dominion elections in Winnipeg. It wrote: "All citizens whose labour is stained with blood and who want the present unjust system changed, should give their vote to comrade G.D. Houston!"[4] Ukrainian immigrant labourers participated for the first time in the International Day of Labour Solidarity in Canada on May 1, 1909. The demonstration, marching through Winnipeg streets, numbered over 2,000 participants. It was organized by two Ukrainian branches of the SPC and was led under a red flag which bore the proclamation: "Workers of the World Unite!"

It was during this period that the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada conducted a broad campaign protesting the death sentence handed down by an Austrian court on the social-democrat student Myroslav Sichynsky, who shot and killed the viceroy of the Austrian emperor, Count Andrzej Potocki. The campaign collected 7,915 signatures demanding his freedom.

With the growth of socialist branches, however, before long internal disagreements also appeared. Ukrainian socialists were particularly displeased with the way they were treated by the SPC leaders, who were mainly of English descent. In dealing with this problem, Robochyi narod published an editorial which stated: "The tactlessness of some of the more leading English comrades against their immigrant comrades at the present time endangers the internationalism of the Canadian Socialist Party."[5]

The same issue of the paper carried an appeal titled "Ukrainian Socialist Convention," signed by Stechyshyn, Peter Nimelovich, and Mykhailo Hubytsky. It stated:

...Some nationalist-oriented English comrades are trying to relegate us to the background without taking into account that we, like they, pay ten cents a month in party dues which are used almost exclusively in propaganda and literature for the English, while thousands of our people live in the darkness of illiteracy, and the life of our paper, supported solely by voluntary donations, is gravely threatened.

The appeal explained that this was why the signatories, considering themselves the guardians of the Ukrainian socialist funds, decided

to call a convention of delegates from all the Ukrainian socialist organizations to discuss the situation and the future of our movement.

The convention took place on November 12, 1909, in Winnipeg. It was led by the secretaries of the party's Manitoba Executive Committee, its national organizer Toma Tomashevsky, and by the editor of Robochyi narod, Myroslav Stechyshyn. One of the resolutions adopted at the convention read:

The First Ukrainian Canadian Socialist Convention considers that the Ukrainian socialist branches must irrefutably unite into a compact autonomous central Ukrainian organization, which could plan and successfully conduct educational work among the Ukrainian proletariat in Canada and proposes that the organization should be called "The Federation of Ukrainian Social-Democrats in Canada."

Another resolution declared that if the Dominion Executive Committee of the Socialist Party would not recognize the autonomy of the Federation of Ukrainian Social-Democrats, then it (the FUSD)

would be completely justified if it began to work with complete organizational independence, disregarding the official party; began making attempts with others dissatisfied with the present leadership to form a new party, worthy of carrying the name socialist.

The convention condemned the Dominion Executive Committee because it had declared itself against uniting with the International Socialist Bureau; and because it had eliminated the word "internationalism" from its platform and announced itself against trade unions and the equality of women. It accused the SPC of becoming an "insignificant socialist sect." The convention also: declared its moral unity with the Ukrainian social democrats in Europe and "entrusted the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats in Canada to maintain close ties with them"; stated that "the easiest method of educational and organizational work among farmers" was the formation of cooperative unions; and urged Ukrainian workers to join the International Workers of the World (IWW) trade union.

Elected to the FUSD National Executive were: Myroslav Stechyshyn of Winnipeg (who was also elected secretary), Toma Tomashevsky of Frank, Ivan Bohonos of Phoenix, Ivan Boychuk of Hosmer, Sophia Gowda of Edmonton, Hannah Stechyshyn of Winnipeg, and I.A. Pawchuk of Phoenix.

It is worth noting that Pavlo Krat was not elected to the National Executive. In a pre-convention referendum he received an insignificant number of votes. Being an ambitious man, and a great intriguer, after the convention he began a campaign against the National Executive Committee, accusing it of being "improperly constituted."

The FUSD Unites with the CSDP

The convention and the formation of the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats marked the start of a new period in the life of the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada, a demonstration of its maturity and a positive step towards its greater stability. It was a first attempt at uniting separate Ukrainian socialist organizations which until then had existed individually, without a central coordinated leadership, chiefly because the Dominion Executive Committee of the SPC had a negative attitude toward the ethnic language branches.

Although the SPC organ, the Western Clarion, published a proposal to recognize the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats, this was ignored by the Dominion Executive Committee.

But the FUSD was not the only organization that was critical of the SPC political platform and activity. Three SPC language branches (Ukrainian, German and Jewish) in Winnipeg, at a joint meeting held on July 20, 1910, decided to leave the SPC. A manifesto adopted at the meeting declared that "the tactics of the SPC do more to hinder than to build the socialist movement in Canada." Further, the meeting's manifesto explained that it differed with the SPC "because of its attitude toward the International Socialist Bureau, and the socialist parties of other countries." Charging that the SPC had become "a narrow, sectarian and national party," the manifesto concluded:

With this declaration we inform all who are concerned that we are breaking our relations with the SPC and will endeavour to organize a new party under the name of the Canadian Social-Democratic Party, based on Marxist principles, favourable to practical and constructive work and administered on democratic principles.[6]

For five days, beginning on August 22, 1910, a convention of the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats was held in Edmonton. It decided to unite the FUSD with the Canadian Social Democratic Party, and to form an association named after Myroslav Sichynsky to give aid to the Ukrainian liberation movement in Austria and Russia. It was also decided to publish Robochyi narod weekly instead of monthly.

Following the convention, the FUSD had good possibilities for growth. More and more Ukrainian workers were becoming interested in socialist ideas and the class struggle. From January 1, 1911, Robochyi narod began publishing three times a month. The Social Democratic Party of Canada began to adopt a more positive position toward ethnic socialist organizations; and the FUSD membership included some fairly well developed cadres. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian socialist movement continued to encounter obstacles. The very composition of the Federation's newly-elected central executive condemned it to inactivity and ineffectiveness. It was made up of seven members who lived in various centres: the secretary R. Kremar (Solodukha), in Calgary; the financial secretary, J. Seniuk, in Edmonton; the treasurer, I. Humen, in Edmonton; and members-at-large I. Boychuk, in Hosmer; I.A. Pawchuk, in Vancouver; M. Ferbey, in Vancouver; and O. Kraikivsky, in Corbin. Moreover, the central committee had no one from Winnipeg, its largest branch. While the central executive was based in Edmonton, its organ, Robochyi narod, was published in Winnipeg. All of this was not favour-able for the coordination of the FUSD's activities. On the contrary, it contributed to numerous frictions, which finally led to the disintegration of the party.

Coincidentally, after its Edmonton convention the Socialist Party of Canada began to wage a campaign against the Ukrainian social-democrats. Its papers carried articles against the FUSD. In response to these, Robochyi narod wrote: "We kept silent, because we were ashamed to admit to the kind of party comrades we had. Now that our hands are untied, and these same opponents are forcing us to fight, we are prepared to denounce their capers."[7]

Inner Strife in the FUSD

Though the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats separated itself from the Socialist Party of Canada and joined the Canadian Social Democratic Party, there was no peace in its ranks—inner strife began to develop. Roman Kremar, who had been elected secretary of the central executive, tried to get Robochyi narod moved from Winnipeg to the small coal-mining town of Fernie, B.C., and so get the paper completely under his control. When that didn't succeed he, with those like-minded, began to publish Nova hromada (New Community) in Edmonton.

A deep division began to develop in the FUSD's ranks: Stechyshyn and Krat (he again appeared on the political arena) had the biggest branch of the party, in Winnipeg, as well as Robochyi narod under their control. Kremar, with his supporters, Toma Tornashevsky, Oleksa Kraikivsky, and Josyf Seniuk, controlled the second largest branch, in Edmonton. Moreover, Kremar was the national executive secretary and hid behind the authority given him by the convention.

Nova hromada began publishing on February 16, 1911, and immediately started a debate with Robochyi narod. In truth, it was simply a spat between Kremar and Krat, each smearing the other with mud. In Robochyi narod, Krat wrote that Kremar was a presumptuous egoist "for whom the band of nationalist speculators hostile to socialism is dearer than the Federation."[8] In reply, Kremar wrote that Krat was conducting deliberate provocative activities and charged that he had relations with enemies of the Ukrainian socialist movement and "contact with known Russian spies. "[9]

Shortly after, Kremar announced in Nova hromada that the second convention of the FUSD would be held on May 1, 1911, and that it would investigate the dispute between himself, Stechyshyn and Krat, as well as deal with other party matters.

In response, Robochyi narod published a "Manifesto to all branches and members of the FUSD," prepared by three members of the central executive committee—M. Ferbey, I. Boychuk and I.A. Pawchuk—which rejected the politics and activities of Kremar. It declared that the convention was not being called by the central executive committee, nor by a third of the membership, as provided for by the constitution, but only by a few individuals.[10]

The manifesto received an immediate response from the members and branches, who sent in letters protesting the calling of an unlawful convention. They came from Hosmer, Coleman, Nanaimo, Gimli and Calgary. In spite of the fact that two-thirds of the branches voted against it, the second convention convened by Kremar and his supporters did take place in Edmonton, on May 2-5, 1911. It "absolved" Kremar and, as Nova hromada put it, "became a trial over the Black Hundred and dealt it a fatal blow."[11] It decreed that Krat should be expelled from the FUSD for all time.[12]

It also passed a resolution that the FUSD should return to the Socialist Party of Canada and that Nova hromada should be recognized as the organ of the FUSD.[13] A new central executive committee was elected comprising: M.S. Ferbey, of Hillcrest, secretary; J. Seniuk, Edmonton, financial secretary; I. Humen, of Edmonton, treasurer; H. Topolnitsky and N.V. Tkachuk, of Canmore; S. Fodchuk, of Edmonton; and V. Skoreyko, of Coleman.

The Dominion Executive Committee of the SPC, at its meeting of June 12, 1911, decided to accept the Federation of Ukrainian Socialists (it was renamed at the second convention) into its structure as an autonomous section. The Western Clarion published a statement in which the committee welcomed the "the return of the Ukrainian branches which had broken away from the so-called social-democrats."[14]

After the FUSD's 2nd Convention in Edmonton the split in the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada was finalized. The feud between Robochyi narod and Nova hromada grew sharper, which had a negative effect on the members and many Ukrainian workers and farmers, more and more of whom were accepting socialist ideas.[15]

While the newly-formed Federation of Ukrainian Socialists (FUS), organized by Kremar and his supporters, occupied itself exclusively with attacks on the FUSD, the latter, while repelling the attacks, conducted an active community-political and cultural-educational program among the Ukrainian workers. It began to pay more attention to the Ukrainian workers who had settled in the Eastern Canadian cities, e.g., Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, and Welland, in ever greater numbers. Particularly active in Eastern Canada were FUSD members Ivan Hnyda and Andrii Dmytryshyn.

The FUSD began to make gains also among the Northern Ontario miners: in Cobalt, South Porcupine, and Timmins. It also began educational and propaganda campaigns among the homestead settlers of northern Manitoba. On April 23, 1911, a farmers' conference was held in East Selkirk, attended by individual farmers from various communities in the area as well as FUSD branch delegates from Winnipeg and Gimli. The conference elected a provincial organizational committee "whose task was to continue organizing the farmers." It also announced that Vasyl Holovatsky would run as a candidate in the East Selkirk riding in the Dominion elections. This was the first effort by the Ukrainian social-democrats to participate in a federal election.

At this time, in 1911, Matthew Popovich arrived in Canada from the United States. He had been active in student socialist groups in the old country and his arrival did much to strengthen the FUSD organization-ally in this critical period of its existence. Later the same year John Navis (Ivan Navizivsky) arrived, also from the U.S. He was a friend of Popovich and together with him had been active in the student socialist movement in Eastern Galicia before emigrating. His main concern on arrival in Winnipeg was the development and growth of Robochyi narod.

Because many members did not recognize the legitimacy of the 2nd Convention held by Kremar, a referendum was held among the FUSD branches, organized by the pro-tern secretary of the FUSD's Central Executive Committee, I.A. Pawchuk. An absolute majority of the members agreed that the convention had indeed been illegal and called for holding a constitutionally legitimate one on September 15-17, 1911, in Calgary. But a number of strikes that were taking place at the time prevented it from being held in Calgary on the specified days. On the proposal of the Vancouver branch it was decided that the convention be held in Winnipeg two weeks later, and that instead of being a convention it be a party conference.

The conference, chaired by Stepan Kotyliak with Matthew Popovich as secretary, devoted a great deal of attention to the inner disagreements within the movement and charged that Kremar was responsible for the split in the party. The conference established the fact that there were two Ukrainian socialist parties in Canada at the time: the Federation of Ukrainian Social Democrats, which was part of the Social-Democratic Party of Canada, and the Federation of Ukrainian Socialists, part of the Socialist Party of Canada. A report on the conference carried in Robochyi narod noted:

The conference, being opposed to the fragmentation of the labour forces, acknowledges that the split caused by the Federation of Ukrainian Socialists is detrimental to the liberation movement of the Ukrainian people in Canada and calls on all branches and all individual members, who remain faithful to the principles of the Social-Democratic Party, but allowed themselves to be drawn into the Federation of Ukrainian Socialists, and those who have remained neutral to date, that they should, for the benefit of the party, notify the secretary of the Executive Committee of the FUSD as soon as possible, that they will in future adhere to the constitution and leadership of the FUSD.[16]

Elected to the new executive committee were: V. Holovatsky (organizer); V. Basisty (treasurer); M. Stechyshyn (secretary); I. Boychuk, Edmonton; M. Panteliuk, Lyall; I. Kovalsky, East Selkirk; A.I. Pawchuk, Vancouver; and K. Dzvidzinsky, Cranbrook.

There was a rapid growth of FUSD branches, especially in the rural communities. Beginning on September 20, 1911, Robochyi narod became a weekly. The paper's publishers also issued a number of agitational and popular educational booklets. The Myroslav Sichynsky Association, which existed as part of the FUSD, helped to collect funds to help get Sichynsky out of the Dibrova prison in Stanislay. He escaped on November 10, 1911.

But the struggle between the FUSD and the FUS continued, reflected mainly in Robochyi narod and Nova hromada.

The FUSD more and more clearly took internationalist positions. For example, Robochyi narod published an appeal by the International Socialist Bureau, "Against War and High Prices," which had been adopted at a September 23-24, 1911, meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.

An Attempt at Reconciliation

In its issue of December, 30, 1911, Robochyi narod informed its readers that measures were being taken in Western Canada to "arrange a district conference in Coleman or some other town in the Crow's Nest Pass, where the main theme would be a discussion on the need to call a party convention in the near future." It would be attended by representatives of the FUSD and FUS with the aim of "establishing peace between themselves."

The committee, which was elected at a district conference of representatives of the two parties held in Coleman, on December 24, 1911, published an announcement in Nova hromada about the convening of an "Inter-Party Convention of the Two Federations" for February 5-8, 1912. The committee was made up of S. Leskiw, M. Ferbey and S. Sanduliak.

After the Inter-Party Convention, both Robochyi narod and Nova hromada published a communique which, after being endorsed by the membership through a referendum, would become known as the Coleman Agreement.

The conference decided that the feud between Kremar, Stechyshyn and Krat would be referred to a friendly tribunal in Lviv, made up of noted activists of the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party of Eastern Galicia. Kremar was to be defended by Mykola Hankevich, and Pavlo Krat and Myroslav Stechyshyn by Dr. Volodymyr Starosolsky. Both sides announced that they would carry on socialist activity according to their respective platforms and principles.

The disagreements between the leaders of the two parties were not resolved; they continued. But the majority of the rank and file members believed that it was the FUSD that held the correct position.

After the Inter-Party Convention the FUSD continued to grow. A dozen or more new branches were formed in both Eastern and Western Canada.[17] The Ukrainian social democrats revealed their great political maturity and awareness during the May 1 celebrations of 1912. Many Ukrainian workers participated in the street demonstrations along with workers of other nationalities. Their numbers were especially large in the Montréal demonstration.[18]

The FUSD also began to make inroads among Ukrainian farmers in Saskatchewan. It ran its own candidate, the farmer Mykhailo Gabora, in the provincial elections—an important step for the FUSD in Saskatchewan, since it helped spread socialist ideas among the Ukrainian farmers.

The campaign among Ukrainian workers to join the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was intensified. One of the IWW branches, in Winnipeg, was headed by Dmytro Stechyshyn, a FUSD member.

The FUS, on the other hand, was declining in its influence and the editors of Nova hromada were frequently changed.

But despite the growth of the FUSD and the increasing impact of its social, political and educational activity, its leadership was again plagued with inner strife. On September 23, 1912, Myroslav Stechyshyn resigned his position as secretary of the Central Executive, creating a new crisis in the Federation. A referendum of the membership resulted in the election of a new executive of eight members. Five of these were from Montréal (Ivan Hnyda, Andrii Dmytryshyn, Tom Boychuk, Fedir Sokolyk and Pavlo Fediw) and three were from Calgary (Petro Ryziuk, Mykola Panteliuk, and Antin Havryliuk).

The December 18, 1912, issue of Robochyi narod reported that Andrii Dmytryshyn was elected secretary of the Central Executive, Pavlo Fediw, treasurer, and Ivan Hnyda, administrator. This was the beginning of Myroslav Stechyshyn's exit from the Ukrainian socialist movement.

At the close of 1912, the FUS, which had only a few branches in Western Canada, ceased to exist. Its paper stopped publishing a couple of months earlier, with its 67th issue. Roman Kremar began to publish a Catholic newspaper, Novyny (News), in Edmonton.

On the initiative of the FUSD's Central Executive, a district conference was held in Winnipeg on February 2, 1913, attended by 56 delegates from ten branches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Ivan Hnyda, FUSD organizer from Montréal, was also present.

Unlike earlier conventions, the delegates at this conference discussed not only the party's organizational state and inner problems, but also a variety of socio-political issues that affected the vital interests of Ukrainian workers. The resolutions adopted: protested the war in the Balkans; demanded that the Manitoba government give more attention to building roads and draining swamps; protested against the increased taxes and debts; called for a minimum wage of $3 a day and a 44-hour week for unqualified workers; demanded the establishment of a school in every municipality with the right to teach both English and Ukrainian in it. The conference also agreed to a proposal by the publishers of Robochyi narod to publish a humorous magazine Kropylo (The Aspergillum).

After the conference, mass meetings were held in a number of communities, at which the audiences endorsed the resolutions condemning the war in the Balkans and demanded an immediate end to the slaughter.

On July 30, 1913, the Central Executive published a report on the organizational status of the FUSD, which revealed that it had at the time 23 branches with a total of 422 members, compared to 147 in 1912—a gain of 235 in six months.[19]

In September, 1913, Yevhen Hutsailo, an activist in the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party of Eastern Galicia, arrived in Canada. At the request of the FUSD's Central Executive, he made an organizational tour of Ontario branches, and then became the editor of Robochyi narod.

In its November 19, 1913, issue, Robochyi narod published an article signed T.H. and titled "What We Desperately Need," in which the author gave an analysis on the conditions among the Ukrainian settlers in Canada and the organized strength of the FUSD. He reported that there were already 250,000 Ukrainians in Canada, 100,000 of whom worked in mines and factories. He also reported that the FUSD had only 600 members. Offering his thoughts on why such a small number of Ukrainian workers belonged to the Federation, he wrote:

If we take into consideration the material that makes up the organization; if we think back on what we were like when our native land drove us beyond the ocean: naked, barefoot, ragged, ignorant, unaccustomed to organization and unaccustomed to work without being exploited; and if we consider the enmity to socialist doctrine held by those under whose influence we were brought up in the old country, then we won't be surprised why things are the way they are and not better.

We began organizing, as best we could, and how we could. There were very few intellectuals. Everyone knew their 'socialism' in their own way. One was a socialist because he didn't believe in priests, another was against the landowner on the estate and thought this was enough to make him a socialist. Still another was courageous enough to drink milk during Lent and therefore also had a claim on socialism; and there was also one who knew that this capitalist system was unjust, it could and must be changed. Therefore, they all organized...

The author suggested that besides the FUSD it was necessary to form an organization "which would be able to attract broader circles of our workers." Such an organization, in his view, would provide financial aid to a member in case of illness, accident or injury at work. The member would also be insured in case of death, the benefits payable to his family. Besides giving financial help to its members, it would also conduct educational-cultural activities. The thoughts of T.H., expressed in that article, were realized in 1918, when the Ukrainian Labour Temple Association was formed, and later, in 1922, the Workers Benevolent Association came into being.

The appearance of the article showed that the leaders of the FUSD were already aware of the need to form organizations that would embrace broad circles of Ukrainian settlers who were not yet prepared to join a political party like the FUSD.

During 1913, Andrii Dmytryshyn, secretary of the FUSD's central executive, published a notice in Robochyi narod informing the party's members that according to the FUSD's constitution a convention of the party should be held by year's end. He asked the branches to respond whether they would be able to send delegates at this time. Most of the branches opted for holding such a convention in the spring of 1914.

At the close of 1913, there was a substantial erosion of the FUSD membership. Seven branches were dissolved, leaving only 18, with a total of 238 members. Thus the FUSD found itself in a difficult situation: its central executive was in Montréal, while Robochyi narod was published in Winnipeg, severely hindering its ability to provide good leadership. The members of the executive, though dedicated, lacked organizational competence. This led to misunderstandings and discord, especially since they did not have a clear understanding of the theory and aims of socialism. Thus weakened, it became the object of concentrated attacks by Ukrainian nationalists, especially through their newspapers, which were in the main supported by the Liberal and Conservative parties, as well as the religious sects.

Formation of the USDP

On January 31, 1914, at a conference in Montréal, the FUSD decided to change its name to the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party of Canada (USDP), that the executive committee and Robochyi narod be located in the same city, and that the post of organizer be changed to chairman. It decided also that intellectuals would be accepted into membership only with the approval of the Executive Committee.

The Winnipeg branch presented a list of candidates for the new Executive Committee, which was then submitted to the party members for approval through a referendum. The result was published in April, 1914. Elected were Ivan Hnyda, Mykola Yeremiychuk, Dmytro Kachmar, Petro Alambets, Mykola Nimelovich and Timofii Koreychuk. The referendum endorsed the proposal that the executive committee and the paper both be situated in Winnipeg but rejected the idea that a chairman of the executive committee be elected rather than an organizer.

The year 1914 was important for the growth of the Ukrainian social-democratic movement in Canada. The country was suffering an economic crisis with a growing number of unemployed, among them many Ukrainian immigrants, especially those who had arrived more recently, most of whom didn't have a stable job and were able to find only seasonal work.

In a number of Canadian cities, especially in Montréal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, there were huge demonstrations of unemployed demanding jobs or bread. The USDP made great efforts to get the unemployed Ukrainian immigrants to participate in these struggles. The May 1st celebrations that year saw huge demonstrations organized by the USDP with both members and supporters participating.

In March of that year there were widespread celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Ukrainian poet-revolutionary, Taras Shevchenko. In all the Ukrainian lands, which at that time were socially and nationally oppressed (Eastern Galicia, Northern Bukovyna and Trans-Carpathia under Austro-Hungary and Eastern Ukraine under the Russian Empire), the Ukrainian people, under difficult conditions, widely celebrated the jubilee of their national bard—a fighter for their freedom. Ukrainian settlers in Canada also honoured their great Kobzar (Minstrel) as best they could. An active part in these celebrations was played all across Canada by the members and sup-porters of the USDP.

Early in 1914 it became obvious that the threat of a world war hung over humanity. The social democrats worked actively to mobilize working people for the struggle against militarism and the war danger. Anti-war articles and slogans appeared on the pages of Robochyi narod. When World War I began in September, the USDP spoke out unequivocally against it, and held that position to the end of its existence, when its activities were banned by the Canadian government in September, 1918.

The position of Robochyi narod was clearly stated in its editorial "Away With War!" under the signature of party activist Hryhory Tkachuk, in which he wrote, "Let the mighty voice of labour resound at full cry around the world: Away with war!"

In another article, "The Proletariat and War," Ivan Stefanitsky wrote: "The war brings nothing good to the poor, only losses, and ever more victims. From a moral point of view war is a crime of present-day society. For workers the war is of no use at all."[20]

It is noteworthy that in spite of the grave difficulties the Ukrainian settlers in Canada had to undergo at the time the USDP continued to carry on with its activities. These difficulties were to a large degree caused by the Greek Catholic bishop, Mykyta Budka. A few days before the outbreak of war he issued a pastoral letter to the Greek Catholics in Canada in which he called on men of conscription age to apply to the Austrian consulate and be ready to return to the old country (Eastern Galicia) to serve and defend the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its emperor Franz Joseph. When war broke out and Canada became an ally of Great Britain and Russia against Germany and Austro-Hungary, Bishop Budka issued another pastoral letter in which he called on the men among his parishioners to join the Canadian Army and fight on the side of Britain, France and Russia.

By this chameleon-like action the bishop saved his own skin, but his first pastoral letter gave the Canadian government reason to regard all Ukrainian immigrants from Austro-Hungary as "enemy aliens." Large numbers of men were interned in concentration camps in various provinces, while others had to report regularly to the police wherever they lived. The interned remained in the camps, under harsh and oppressive conditions, to the end of the war.

The USDP During 1914-1918

By 1914, only one of the original founders, Pavlo Krat, remained a member of the USDP. Myroslav Stechyshyn, after resigning from the post of secretary on September 23, 1912, for a while joined his former sworn enemy Roman Kremar, working in Edmonton for the Catholic paper Novyny. Vasyl Holovatsky disappeared from the political horizon.

Krat was an ambitious individual, a political adventurer and a great intriguer, continually stirring up dissent and creating conflicts in the Ukrainian socialist movement. He moved from city to city (Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton) and each time tried to get the party centre and its paper moved to wherever he was located. When this failed, he either launched a short-lived paper, e.g., Kadylo (Censer) in Vancouver, or organized a new "society." In the summer of 1914, in Edmonton, he organized the Independent Ukraine Association, a Hetmanite organization with a hetman,[21] a general secretary, a general arbiter (judge), and standard bearers. With this new association, which grew to no more than several branches across Canada, Krat was able to bring a measure of demoralization into the ranks of the USDP.

Abandoning this association, Krat next entered a seminary and began to study Presbyterian theology. He then announced in Ranok that only the Bible would bring salvation to workers. True, he continued to be a member of the USDP formally, but the members protested his activities and he was eventually forced to leave the USDP, though he continued to have his articles published in Robochyi narod, which further enraged the members. In tracing Krat's activities in the Ukrainian socialist organizations, one notes that he either kept leaving their ranks himself, or kept being expelled.

There were constant changes in the leadership of the USDP (Ivan Hnyda returned to Montréal and Hryhory Tkachuk succeeded him as organizer). There was, however, little coordination of party activities between the branches in Eastern and Western Canada, which prompted a demand by the Western Canadian branches for a Western conference. Such a conference was held in Coleman, on November 15, 1914, attended by delegates from ten branches. It elected a Western Agitational (Publicity and Promotion) Committee whose task was to stimulate the party's growth in Western Canada.

At this time also new quarrels and dissension began to develop within the party between the West and the East. The editors of Robochyi narod were changed frequently. The paper was edited at various times during this period by Myroslav Stechyshyn, Yevhen Hutsailo, Ivan Stefanitsky, Ivan Hnyda, Mykola Hyshka, and John Navis.

Though the paper dealt with the struggle for the liberation of Ukraine, because it was central in the minds of settlers who had lived in Ukrainian lands colonized by both Austro-Hungary and Russia, neither the paper nor the USDP had a clear position on this important question. For example, a League for the Liberation of Ukraine was formed in Europe, headed by such nationalist activists as Dmytro Dontsov, Volodymyr Doroshenko, and Olexandr Skoropys-Yoltukhovsky. This League was in reality a pawn of German imperialism. Though its leaders at one time were active in the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party, they later took nationalist positions. Dontsov eventually became the ideologue of "militant nationalism" and gave ideological inspiration to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), formed illegally in 1929 on Western Ukrainian lands which were then occupied by the Polish gentry.

Without really comprehending the complex and volatile nature of the so-called 'Ukrainian question' in Europe at the time, Mykola Yeremiychuk, secretary of the USDP's Executive Committee, wrote an article, "The Party and Ukraine," which Robochyi narod published instead of an editorial. In it he suggested that the USDP should "agree with the League," because "its program is social democratic."

At the same time, Robochyi narod reprinted articles and declarations of noted activists of the labour movement in various countries, which condemned the imperialist war, and called for peace. The paper also carried a news item from Europe about a speech in the German parliament made by Karl Liebknecht, a socialist deputy, protesting against the huge expenditures assigned for war.

A week after publishing this news, Robochyi narod carried an article by Matthew Popovich titled "No!" After reviewing Liebknecht's speech, he wrote:

His protest against the military budget is against the continuation of this diabolical crime of war; that is, against the further brutal murder of millions of innocent people, against the further destruction of cultural and other achievements of human labour, that of others as well as one's own, against the spread of devastation, hunger, misery, illness and other evils which this most terrible war in the history of mankind is bringing with it. He did not forget also, that this war is conducted by the most determined enemies of socialism. Nor did he forget that in this war masses of workers in all the countries involved are being incited to murder each other, not in their own interests but in the interests and supremacy of the ruling classes. His protest is an echo of the innocent victims of militarism, dying in terrible suffering on the fields where implacable death is dancing its war dance. It is the echo of the tears of aging mothers, powerless grey-haired fathers, despairing cries, and the wails of widows and orphans. It is the echo of the imprecations and entreaties of the wandering home-less and dispossessed.[22]

In publishing articles by noted activists of the international labour movement such as Clara Zetkin, Sen Katayama and others, Robochyi narod crystallized its own position toward the war. These articles had great educational value for the members of the USDP, rallying Ukrainian workers in Canada to active protest against the war.

Although the authority of such USDP activists as Popovich, Navis, and William Kolisnyk grew, there was no harmony in the party. Krat continued his adventurous policies in the west, while in the east Stefanitsky began to issue a monthly journal, Svidoma syla (Conscious Strength). The Executive Committee did not condemn the new journal, but it observed that its appearance was premature; because of the economic crisis Robochyi narod had found itself in deep debt, and it therefore considered that "this wasn't the time to start a new paper." Various branches across Canada, however, were critical of the appearance of the new journal. They were against publishing "any kind of new party paper," until Robochyi narod was put "on a solid basis." But Stefanitsky paid no attention to these criticisms. The Executive Committee then turned to the party's Toronto branch with a proposal that it suspend Stefanitsky's party membership for three months. But Stefanitsky refused to submit to party discipline and continued to publish his journal to the end of 1915. In 1916, he began to put out a weekly paper, Robitnyche slovo (Workers' Word), instead of the journal. It lasted until September 1918, when it was declared illegal by the Canadian government, along with other socialist publications.

After a long 'disappearance,' Vasyl Holovatsky appeared in Sudbury early in 1915 and demanded that Mykola Yeremiychuk resign his post as secretary of the USDP Executive Committee, and that he (Holovatsky) be named secretary as well as editor of Robochyi narod. Arriving in Winnipeg he tried to form a separate branch of the USDP, and at the same time demanded of the Manitoba Committee that the other local branch be disbanded. The Executive Committee, at its meeting March 14, 1915, reviewed Holovatsky's behaviour, deciding that he was "detrimental to the socialist movement," and voted to expel him from the party.

A struggle emerged once again in the leadership of the USDP. Soon after Holovatsky's expulsion, Hnyda, who had voluntarily left his position of USDP organizer to go to Montréal, convened an Extraordinary Conference of the Quebec and Ontario branches. It was held in Toronto on April 11, 1915, with 22 delegates representing six branches. The delegates were sharply critical of the party's Executive Committee and demanded the formation of a new executive of nine members which would be based in Montréal. Together with Andrii Dmytryshyn, Mykola Yavorsky and Mykola Korth, Hnyda began to conduct a campaign against the Executive Committee in Winnipeg.

A few weeks later (May 2, 1915), a District Conference was held with delegates from branches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The conference voiced sharp criticism of Hnyda's activities, especially his illegal convening of the Toronto conference, because according to the party's constitution it could only have been convened at the request of not one but three branches of the party.

The Winnipeg conference, besides considering organizational matters, discussed important socio-political problems. In spite of the struggles in its ranks, the party at the time was fairly well-developed politically and capable of carrying out its program. The delegates sharply condemned the chauvinistic campaign of the establishment press against workers of non-Anglo-Saxon origin. They also called on the Canadian government to "make representations to the tsarist authorities in Russia about the arrest of five social-democratic deputies of the Duma (parliament)," as well as in defence of the rights of the Ukrainian people, since the tsarist regime had banned Ukrainian newspapers and books, closed schools, and had unlawfully arrested Ukrainian scholars and writers and exiled them to Siberia.

The delegates demanded that new elections to the federal parliament be called and that the municipal, provincial and federal governments establish community enterprises for the unemployed.

In still another resolution the delegates expressed their views about the 'imperialist war' that was then being fought in Europe.

In 1915, a second wave of arrests of Ukrainian settlers took place. This time members of the USDP were interned, despite the fact that they were Canadian citizens. They were dispersed into internment camps in Brandon, Vernon, Lethbridge and Spirit Lake. In the Spirit Lake camp alone close to 800 Ukrainians were held. Ukrainian workers were fired from their jobs en masse and many of them were arrested and interned. In Michel and Femie, 370 Ukrainian miners were fired and arrested, in Nanaimo, 150. Many were also arrested in Hillcrest.

A severe blow to the USDP was the arrest of its secretary, Mykola Yeremiychuk. He was interned in the camp at Brandon. A Provisional Executive Committee was then elected, with Antin Dziola as secretary and S. Khoronzhy as treasurer, to carry on until a new Executive Committee could be elected.

An important question facing the party was where to continue publishing Robochyi narod. The conference in its majority had voted that it be moved to the West. The Provisional Executive Committee, however, at its meeting of July 12, 1915, decreed:

In view of the fact that the branches in the West have disintegrated because of the mass arrests by the military, as well as the severe unemployment in the area, it is impossible to move the press West. The NEC is therefore turning to our Eastern branches to take over the paper and cover the most essential debts and costs of moving; otherwise, Robochyi narod will remain in Winnipeg, but through lack of funds will publish only once a month.

In a referendum on the matter, held on July 28, 1915, only the Welland branch voted that the paper be published in the East. So the paper remained in Winnipeg and became a monthly.

Within the USDP leadership total chaos reigned. There were constant resignations and expulsions from the Executive Committee, continuous referendums and confirmation of new candidates. At times, those who were elected to the Executive resigned immediately (e.g., Petro Klym).

On July 28, 1915, an Eastern Constituent Convention was held in Montréal at which the delegates discussed the financial condition of Robochyi narod and resolved to give it every possible support. They also resolved that all misunderstandings should be settled peacefully and "according to the Constitution and social democratic principles." The conference elected an Eastern District Committee, which included: Ivan Stefanitsky, organizer; Vasyl Protas, secretary; Mykola Bilay, treasurer; and Yakiw Pomeychuk, Dmytro Vintoniak and Bachynsky as members. During these years the USDP established itself quite strongly among the Ukrainian workers in Eastern Canada.

A second District Conference of the USDP was held on May 1, 1915, in Bellevue, Alberta, with 14 delegates attending from Coleman, Bellevue, Lethbridge and Canmore. It gave a great deal of attention to the status of Robochyi narod and decided that it should be moved to Western Canada, a decision that was protested by Eastern Canadian branches. Nevertheless, the paper remained in Winnipeg. The conference also appealed to "formerly active members" in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert and Phoenix to "become active members again" and revitalize their branches.

A new period in the activities of the USDP began in August of 1916, when Matthew Popovich was invited to become editor of Robochyi narod. The National Executive Committee prepared a plan of organizational activity, rallied the membership to carry it through, and decided to intensify the press fund campaign so that Robochyi narod "could be published more often." Party activity was revived, the pages of Robochyi narod were filled with reports of the activities of branches in Hamilton, Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Winnipeg, and Regina. Popovich made a tour of Western Canada to revitalize the Western branches and raise funds for the paper. In Eastern Canada he attended the Eastern District Conference of the USDP, held in Ottawa in October of 1916, at which the Ottawa, Montréal, Hamilton, Welland and Timmins branches were represented. There were no delegates from the Toronto branch since it was headed by Stefanitsky, who had differences with the Executive Committee.

The secretary of the Winnipeg branch, Stepan Vasylyna, published an article in Robochyi narod proposing that since there were many questions that needed to be resolved, a national convention of the party be held. The Executive Committee polled the branches and on March 2, 1917, announced that the majority agreed to hold a convention. Because the secretary, Antin Dziola, had to leave for work in Cranbrook, the party appointed Danylo Lobay as temporary secretary in his place.

The year 1917 was an important one in the history of the USDP. As a result of the February (by the Julian calendar) revolution in Russia, the tsarist autocracy was overthrown. This world-shaking event made a great impression on the Ukrainian settlers in Canada, particularly on the members and supporters of the USDP. On Sunday, March 25, 1917, a meeting at the Grand Opera House in Winnipeg, sponsored by the USDP Branch, adopted a resolution proposed by Popovich. It read:

We, Ukrainian workers gathered at a mass meeting in Winnipeg, send fraternal greetings to the Russian worker-revolutionaries on the occasion of the world victory of the revolution over autocratic tsarism and the break-up of the prison-house of nations which, without a doubt, will also liberate the 30-million strong Ukrainian people. We are convinced that our Russian comrades will not stop at this change of the political order of Russia, but will continue their struggle to complete victory of the working people over all their enemies.[23]

Similar meetings organized by the party were held in other cities across Canada. At the Montréal meeting, Hnyda called for the separation of Eastern Galicia from Austro-Hungary.

On April 30, 1917, the USDP held its third Western District Conference in Fernie, B.C., at which delegates discussed many organizational problems, including the building of new party branches in the three prairie provinces. Branches were being founded or re-established in many communities; owing to the continuous migration of workers, including party members, branches became inactive or ceased to exist. A new district committee was elected comprising: T. Gushul, organizer; N. Tkachuk, secretary; V. Telenko, treasurer; V. Stepkovsky and M. Kostyniuk, auditors.

A conference of three Manitoba branches, Winnipeg, Elmwood and Transcona, was held in Winnipeg, at which Mykhailo Kniazevich was chairman. It discussed three items: (a) a labour temple; (b) a benevolent association; and (c) the paper Robitnyche slovo, published by Stefanitsky in Toronto. A district committee was reorganized with M. Grodziak as organizer, I. Zelez as secretary, and P. Subotiak as treasurer.

Responding to a request from the branches, the Executive Committee decided to call a national convention of the USDP for August 16-19, 1917, in Winnipeg. Robochyi narod published the convention program, which proposed a discussion of: (1) additions to the party constitution; (2) disagreements in the party; (3) a mutual aid fund; and (4) a revolutionary fund.

The convention lasted five days instead of the originally projected three and was attended by 30 delegates from 25 branches. It showed that the Ukrainian social democratic movement in Canada, now embodied in the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, had grown substantially in membership and in the number of branches. It demonstrated also that the party had achieved, for the first time, a considerably high level of political awareness and that its members had also matured politically, in spite of the obstructions the party had encountered from the Canadian military authorities (the break-up of many of its branches and the internment of many of its activists in 1915), and the inner party strife. The convention decided to:

1.      Make amendments and additions to the constitution.

2.      Organize committees in the branches to collect for the revolutionary fund (the money to be assigned to "the revolutionary press and for the most urgent needs in Ukraine").

3.      Have Robochyi narod issue a calendar (almanac) for 1918.

4.      Publish material in Robochyi narod dealing with farm issues.

5.      Issue Robochyi narod twice a week.

6.      Open a Robochyi narod book store.

It also adopted resolutions concerning (a) the Stockholm Conference of Socialists; (b) the future of Ukraine; and (c) the national question. The first of these stated that the convention

considers it imperative that the proletariat of all countries and all peoples fight for an immediate end to the war on democratic terms, without annexations and reparations, with the recognition of the right of all people to decide their own destiny and to utilize all the possibilities of the present moment to accelerate a social revolution, which is the only road to the liberation of the proletariat from class and national oppression.

The resolution on "The Future of Ukraine" expressed the hope

that the Ukrainian proletariat would now utilize all its energy and strength to secure true democratic rights for the Ukrainian people and that, in close association with the revolutionary proletariat of Russia and other countries, it would struggle toward the rapid advancement of the social revolution and socialism.

The resolution on the national question declared:

We, Ukrainian social democrats in Canada, firmly uphold international solidarity of the revolutionary proletariat of all countries, and recognize the right of every people to self-determination; consider the complete liberation of oppressed people one of the tasks of socialism, on the road toward the liberation of all nations from social and economic oppression.

A new executive committee was elected comprising W. Kolisnyk, organizer; L. Nykoriak, secretary; A. Dziola, treasurer; A. Choma, deputy-organizer; and M. Kulchytsky, assistant secretary.

Attitude to the Ukrainian Central Council (Rada)

Events in Europe moved with kaleidoscopic speed in the second quarter of 1917, especially on the territory of the former Russian empire, events that had repercussions throughout the world, particularly on the international socialist movement. The idea of socialism seized the imagination of ever wider circles of Ukrainian workers in Canada. The USDP was also deeply affected; by the end of 1917 its membership had grown to 1,500, and the circulation of Robochyi narod to 3,000 subscribers.

The February revolution in Russia resulted in the formation in Kiev of a Ukrainska Tsentral'na Rada (Central Council), which proclaimed Ukraine an autonomous state within the body of the Provisional Government of Russia. The General Secretariat of the Central Council was headed by a social democrat, the noted writer-playwright and public activist Volodymyr Vynnychenko. He had established close ties with the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party of Canada even before the revolution. A drama circle within the Winnipeg branch of the USDP carried his name. His plays were popular with Ukrainian audiences in Canada, particularly among members and supporters of the USDP.

The writer Ivan Kulyk, who lived in the United States, wrote articles to Robochyi narod under the pseudonym R. Rolinato. After the February revolution he, like many other political emigrants from the former Russian tsarist state, returned to Ukraine. There he joined Vynnychenko in publishing the Robitnycha hazeta (Workers' Gazette), which became the unofficial organ of the Central Council. Kulyk, who had been closely tied to the USDP in Canada and had contributed numerous articles to Robochyi narod, sent a telegram from Kiev in which he appealed for financial help for Robitnycha hazeta.

In all its proclamations and statements the Central Council of Ukraine outlined its program in which it declared its support for economic and political rights, for full national rights for all citizens of Ukraine, regardless of their national origins or religious beliefs. Robochyi narod reprinted these proclamations as well as the reports of the Council's secretariat. In short, during the first months of the Central Council's existence, the USDP had a friendly attitude towards it and Robochyi narod reacted positively to its policies.

But when the Central Council began to renege on its proclamations and began to favour the Russian counter-revolutionary forces, the USDP and its press reacted with strong criticism against this change in its policies. Robochyi narod published an article entitled, "Unpleasant News from Ukraine," which noted all the detrimental changes taking place and declared:

Taking all this into consideration, we must come to the conclusion that the Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian bourgeoisie has gained the upper hand and now, together with the Russian bourgeoisie, the counterrevolutionary elements and help from the Allied Commission which has arrived in Kiev, will begin to save Ukraine from the socialist peril.[24]

From its first issue in 1918, Robochyi narod resolutely defended the Bolshevik position and came out sharply against the Ukrainian bourgeoisie. When the Central Council signed an agreement with imperialist Germany, in an article titled "Our Conjectures Are Being Confirmed," it wrote that "the Central Council has betrayed...the Ukrainian working people and for this betrayal it will have to pay sooner or later."[25]

When Soviet rule in Ukraine was proclaimed on December 24, 1917, in the city of Kharkiv, and the make-up of the new governing body of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic was announced, the USDP reacted positively. Robochyi narod wrote:

We, the workers, regardless of our national origin, each and every one, want a free Ukraine, but the kind of Ukraine in which power belongs only to the workers, the poor peasants and the soldiers. We want socialism in Ukraine. [26]

While Robochyi narod and the USDP openly took a favourable position towards the October Revolution and Soviet power in Ukraine, the paper Robitnyche slovo in Toronto reacted against the Bolsheviks. Pavlo Krat, Ivan Stefanitsky, Mykola Yeremiychuk and Stepan Vaskan formed a Committee of Aid to Ukrainian Emigrants (CAUE). The USDP did not approve of the committee and this brought on a new struggle in the party. The USDP's Executive Committee published a statement in Robochyi narod, which declared that "our party has nothing in common with the CAUE, that it considers the CAUE detrimental to our party and that no member of the USDP should join it."

After this statement appeared, members of the USDP began to demand that the Executive Committee hold a referendum regarding the further existence of the Toronto branch. When the referendum showed an absolute majority of the members in favour of disbanding the branch, the Executive Committee revoked its charter. This was the last inner struggle in the USDP.

Though 1918 was the last year of the party's existence, it was a year of continued growth and strengthening of the party, largely because of the upsurge of the revolutionary movement in Europe. The existing branches gained new members and new branches were formed. The party bulletin, Partiinyi visnyk (Party Herald), reported in its first edition for 1918 that there were 2,000 members in the party. The branches had established a broad program of activities, including active drama circles with regular productions of plays and concerts. Especially active in this field was the V. Vynnychenko Drama Circle of the Winnipeg branch. [27]


1. Hromadskyi holos, March 15, 1900.

2. Hromadskyi holos, No. 33, 1907.

3. Hromadskyi holos, January 1910.

4. Chervonyi prapor, September 8, 1908.

5. Hromadskyi holos, October 1909.

6. Hromadskyi holos, August 15, 1910.

7. Hromadskyi holos, October 15, 1910.

8. Hromadskyi holos, March 21, 1911.

9. Nova hromada, March 23, 1911.

10. Hromadskyi holos, April21, 1911.

11. The Black Hundred was a reactionary chauvinistic band organized by the Russian tsarist regime.

12. Nova hromada, May 12, 1911.

13. Nova hromada, May 19, 1911.

14. Western Clarion, June 17, 1911.

15. Robitnychyi kalendar, 1918, p. 103.

16. Hromadskyi holos, October 4, 1911.

17. Hromadskyi holos, April 17, 1912.

18. Hromadskyi holos, May 15, 1912.

19. Hromadskyi holos, July 30, 1913.

20. Hromadskyi holos, September 2, 1914.

21. Hetman—originally a Cossack leader.

22. Hromadskyi holos, February 24, 1915.

23. Hromadskyi holos, April 5, 1917.

24. Hromadskyi holos, February 9, 1917.

25. Hromadskyi holos, December 22, 1917.

26. Hromadskyi holos, February 9, 1912.

27. Further information on the attitude of the USDP and Robochyi narod to the Ukrainian Central Council can be found in Chapter 14 of Our History.

 [ Top ] [ Documents Index ]

Copyright South Branch Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
www.socialisthistory.ca  ▪