Memorable Manitobans: Jaroslav Bohdan Rudnyckyj (1910-1995)
Born at Peremysl, Western Ukraine on 28 November 1910, he received MA (1934) and PhD (1937) degrees from the University of Lviv, his dissertation being the geographical names of Boikovia. Shortly thereafter he accepted a position at the University of Berlin (1938-1941), followed by Charles University in Prague (1943-1945) and the Ukrainian Free University (1945-1947). In 1949, he founded the Department of Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba and was its chair until his retirement in 1977. Under his sponsorship the first Canadian theses on onomastic topics were supervised.
He was considered a pillar in world onomastic development and the one scholar who fully developed Ukrainian onomastics. Over his lifetime Rudnyckyj produced a distinguished body of work in onomatology, linguistics, lexicology, bibliography, education and public service. His contribution of nearly 3,000 publications was presented in Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1933-1983, in its Addendum 1984-1995; J. B. Rudnyckyj and the Growth of Ukrainian Onomastics: An Onomastic Bibliography, 1935-1995, and in twelve issues of Rudnyckyiana (1985-1995). His major scholastic endeavor was The Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language (1962-82), which fully developed his Etymological Formula in Onomastics (1967). His adding and dating of surnames to the definitions of words gave historical foundation to the Ukrainian language and impacted its linguistic legitimacy. Among his important works in toponymy were Manitoba Mosaic of Place Names (1970) and Mosaic of Winnipeg Street Names (1974).
In 1937, Rudnyckyj attended the First International Conference on Onomastic Sciences in Paris. In 1952, he was designated as permanent delegate of Canada and Ukraine to the ICOS in Louvain, Belgium. Rudnyckyj was a charter member of the American Name Society in 1951, and served as its President in 1959. He was the founder of the Canadian Institute of Onomastic Sciences (now the Canadian Society for the Study of Names) in London in 1967, and was its President until 1970. He was a Canadian delegate to the First United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Rudnyckyj founded the journal Onomastica in Winnipeg in 1951, and was its editor until 1973. Today it continues as Onomastica Canadiana, the biannual journal of the CSSN.
After retirement Rudnyckyj kept his whirlwind tempo of activity - traveling, lecturing, teaching and writing. Prior to his death, he visited his native Ukraine and offered a course in onomastics. In recognition of his scholarly, literary, cultural, and language work, he received a Taras Shevchenko silver medal from the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences (1968).
He died at Montreal, Québec on 19 October 1995.
Who’s Who in North American Name Study (American Name Society)
“Rudnyckyj given a silver medal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 March 1968.
This page was prepared by Stephen P. Holutiak-Hallick Jr. and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 March 2023