Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Oleksa “Alex” Hay-Holowko (1910-2006)

Writer, poet.

Born at Kiev, Ukraine on 12 August 1910, the son of a Greek Orthodox priest, he graduated from the University of Leningrad in Russia, where he majored in the Arts program. Following his graduation, he worked as an editor for various publishing houses, through which his own literary work appeared in magazines, newspapers, and broadcasting outlets. Before moving to Canada, his passion for the arts and literary writing led to having five of his books (poetry and short stories) published in the Ukraine and West Germany. During the Second World War, he fled to the American Zone in Austria, and then to Germany, where, after a particularly risky and courageous effort, he managed to escape from the Russian secret police.

After the war, in 1949, he married Halyna (1923-2007), with whom he went on to have two children. They lived in England for two years before immigrating to Canada. He loved Canada for its beauty and for the religious and political freedoms that his family was able to enjoy. He welcomed the day after the Cold War ended that the same freedoms finally became a reality in his native Ukraine. He lived in the north end of Winnipeg and in Fort Garry for around 40 years and worked as a lab technician at the Agricultural Research Station at the University of Manitoba. While in Winnipeg, he also continued his literary writing and had an additional nine books published (poetry, short stories, memoirs, and essays), written in Ukrainian. Many of these stories, literary articles, and reviews were printed in periodical newspapers and magazines around the world. In 1986, he published a book in English, Duel with the Devil, a book about his younger years in Ukraine and Russia under the Communist regime, and about his hardships during and after the Second World War.

He enjoyed gardening, fishing, playing poker with his sons and his brother Yuri and brother-in-law Alexander Homenko, and watching his sons play sports, primarily hockey. He and his wife moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1987.

He died at Surrey, British Columbia in September 2006 and was buried in the Valley View Memorial Gardens.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 September 2006.

“Oleksa Hay-Halowka,” FindAGrave.

This page was prepared by Lois Braun.

Page revised: 26 November 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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