Memorable Manitobans: Andrew Bileski [Bilecki] (1903-1992)
Born at Fish Creek, Saskatchewan on 21 September 1903, son of Kazamir Bileski (1860-?) and Lucie Bileski (1861-?), he attended public school at Alvena and high school at Saskatoon. He worked on the family farm until 1922, when it was taken by drought and frost, then moved to Trail, British Columbia and worked for Cominco Smelter for three years. During his time at the smelter, he became involved with the union and labour movements, and joined the Ukrainian Labour Farm Temple Association (ULFTA). He relocated to Winnipeg in 1925, studied economics and social sciences at a workers’ college for six months, and moved to Fort Frances, Ontario to teach the ULFTA Youth Orchestra for two years, and met Mary Rohach, whom he would later wed. He returned to Winnipeg in 1928, and took employment with the Ukrainian Labor-Farmer Publishing Company. In 1935, he was appointed manager of the People’s Co-operative Limited.
First nominated for public office in 1929, he was elected, and re-elected several times, as a school trustee for Ward 3 (1933-1939) for the Winnipeg School Division. He resigned his position, ran for Alderman in Ward 3 (1939), and was elected to the Winnipeg City Council (1939-1940). In September 1940, he and fellow Alderman Jacob Penner were detained by the federal government under the Defense of Canada regulations on charge of being a member of the Communist party; and was eventually released in 1942. He again won re-election as a school trustee (1961-1964) and was a candidate in the 1945, 1949, and 1953 federal general elections, a 1950 provincial by-election, and the 1945 and 1962 provincial general elections. He was appointed by City Council to the Civic Charities Endorsement Bureau, where he served for nine years.
He was a member of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, the Workers’ Benevolent Association, and the Manitoba Peace Council, as well as an Honourary Life Member of the Manitoba Dairy Association, and Honourary Board Member of the People’s Co-operative Limited. He received the City of Winnipeg Community Service Award (1967) from Stephen Juba and the City of Winnipeg Appreciation Award (1983) from Bill Norrie for “services rendered and selfless dedication voluntarily contributed to improving our community and our city.”
On 1 May 1929, he married Mary Rohach (1912-1996) at Winnipeg and had three children: Nadya Bileski (wife of Mr. Pelowich), Melody Bileski (wife of John Sas), and Diana Bileski (wife of Mr. Sribniak).
In 1972, he retired and spent the next ten years organizing seniors within the Co-ordinating Council of Age and Opportunity. He enjoyed staged plays, cultural events, and singing, vocalizing with Bandurist Male Ensemble and the Senior Citizens Mixed Choir, as well as that of his wife, a noted soloist. Other hobbies included gardening, golfing, curling, baseball and traveling.
He died at Winnipeg on 5 November 1992.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Varied candidate list before school board voters in ward three,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 November 1935, page 4.
“Still Trustee, Ross declares,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 September 1940, page 7.
“Aldermanic candidates Ward 3,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 November 1943, page 3.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1992, page B20.
Obituary [Mary Bileski], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 June 1996, page C8.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 4 October 2019
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