Michael & Olga Zachary Scholarship in Ukrainian Studies

Hannah Sun

Michael & Olga Zachary

Both natives of Western Ukraine, Michael and Olga Zachary immigrated to Canada after World War II. They met and married in Toronto.  Although hailing from different social backgrounds, Michael and Olga shared a deep love for literature and culture. Olga’s father was a prominent Ukrainian Catholic clergyman, and her mother was one of the first female schoolteachers in the region. Michael came from very humble beginnings, as a child walking to school six kilometers away. His love of books and learning led him to establishing the first Ukrainian bookstore in the district and obtaining a university education. 

His love of culture also included deep appreciation of music and art. Michael received a degree in Forestry from Freiburg University in Germany in 1949 and a similar Canadian degree from the University of Toronto in 1952. In 1952 Michael and Olga moved to Victoria, where he worked in the Survey Division of the BC Forest Service and as Boulevard Supervisor for the City of Victoria. The family also established an 85-hive apiary producing honey sold under the “Island’s Finest” brand and owned several rental properties. Olga became a well-known realtor in Victoria, working with immigrant families, in particular. She kept her license well into her eighties.

Michael Zachary died in 2013. Michael and Olga had three sons, Dennis, Jerome, and Peter. Tragically, Dennis died as a pedestrian in a motor vehicle accident. Jerome received a BFA degree from UVic. Peter went on to obtain a Ph.D., writing his doctoral thesis on a Ukrainian topic.

Ever since moving to Victoria in the 1950s, Olga has been active in Ukrainian community life. For many decades she was involved in organizing annual concerts in honour of Ukraine’s greatest national poet, Taras Shevchenko. Her long recitations of Shevchenko’s poetry, from memory, have long been the hallmark of these festive community events. Michael and Olga Zachary were among the earliest and most committed supporters of UVic’s Ukrainian program since its inception in 2004.

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