Welding: A Family Affair

Woman of Steel participant welding a T joint in the horizontal position using the Shielded Metal Arc welding process.

In the four years of CWB Welding Foundation Mind over Metal camps, students have found interest in the camps for a variety of reasons. However, sometimes there is a story so unique it must be shared

Danylo Kruk attended the Mind over Metal camp at Tech Voc High School in Winnipeg because he thought it would be interesting to learn a trade. He couldn’t possibly have had any idea that he owes a lot more to welding than he ever realized.

This story begins in the Ukraine in 1914, where Danylo’s Great-Grandfather, Alexander, was born in the village of Ivanivka. Alexander’s family was deported to Russia when he was a child and as a young man he escaped back to Eastern Ukraine. It was there that Alexander started his career as a welder. He’d marry Antonina and she would later give birth to Oleg, Danylo’s Grandfather. Alexander eventually moved the family to Slovakia, leveraging his skills as a welder to provide for his family.

They eventually made their way to Germany while evading the Soviet Army. When the Second World War ended, Alexander and his family were placed on a train by allied army occupiers, knowing that they were likely to be shipped off to Siberia, or even worse: executed for treason by having worked in Germany and aiding the enemy.  Knowing he needed to act quickly, Alexander repeatedly shouted to an officer “I’m a Welder!” The officer took notice and ordered the soldiers to remove him from the train. Once off the train, Alexander convinced the officer to allow his family to come with him as well.

Eventually, the family heard of the opportunities in Canada and in 1950, Alexander made his way to Montreal; securing a loan to bring the rest of the family soon after.  After Alexander’s retirement, he moved to Edmonton, helping with ornamental and structural projects at the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village. Danylo was never able to meet his Great Grandfather; he was born 7 years after Alexander’s passing.

However, Danylo can’t help but feel a connection to  his Great Grandfather through this story, noting the story was “pretty cool, because it shows that trades are just as important then as they are now.”

Danylo isn’t the only family member who’s pursued welding in large part to this story.  Danylo’s Uncle, John Krawchenko, has also taken up the trade in recent years. As a lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, John has recently completed both the Introductory and Intermediate welding courses through Mohawk College.

“I know that when I prepare myself for welding, I do have a feeling of connection with grandfather and an appreciation of his level of skill, which I could never hope to achieve,” John Krawchenko.

However, when it comes to carrying the torch, it’s apparent that John knows where he stands: “I saw pictures of Danylo’s work product and I think he is much better at welding than me, so perhaps, the skills component skipped a generation.”

In the end, even though Danylo only knows his Great Grandfather through stories and photos, it’s fair to say that without welding, there very well may not have been a story to tell.

Alexander with a friend that was welding ’56
Wife (Antonina), son (Oleg), daughter (Ludmila), son (Bohdan) on the boat “Fairsea” to Canada in 1951
Alexander in Montreal, 1956
Danylo at Mind Over Metal Camp, top row, second from left
Danylos’ school photo
John in welding outfit



We would like to express our thanks to Lesia Kruk (the Mother of Danylo and the Grand Daughter of Alexander) for her support with this article.