Profile: Steve Melnychuk was born in 1924 in Cowan, Manitoba to Bukovynian immigrants who came to Canada in 1908, originally to mine in Coleman, Alberta and then to homestead in the Cowan, Manitoba area. He left school after Grade 8, and at age 15 he was orphaned. After briefly farming with his brother, he hit the road in the latter part of the Great Depression as an itinerant labourer in lumber camps and on farms, as well as a pamphleteer in Winnipeg. When World War II broke out, he was recruited to attend trade school after which he worked in Britain as an airframe mechanic. Upon returning to Canada, Melnychuk retrained as an auto body mechanic, and worked in several autobody shops in Edmonton, where he met and married Mary Krawchuk. The couple lived in Beverly for 40 years. Eventually he took a position as maintenance man for Southpark Motors, and then automotive painter at Edmonton Motors, where he attempted to organize a local of the Sheetmetal Workers Union. Finally, he landed his ‘dream job’ as program aide at M. E. LaZerte High School, where he used his skills and experience to support teachers and students in the industrial arts program, a role which he continued as a volunteer after his retirement. Steve Melnychuk passed away in 2019 at the age of 95 years.
Keywords: Airframe mechanic; Automotive painter; Bukovynian immigrants; CCF; Farmworker; Sheetmetal Workers Union; Socialism; Teacher’s aide; United Labourer-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA).
Transcript: Download PDF