Provincial Archives of Alberta
8555 Roper Road
0.41 m of textual records. - 18 photographs
Wasyl Kunda was born in the village of Melnych, Halychyna (Western Ukraine) on February 5, 1913, the youngest son of seven children. He attended primary school for four years in Melnych and later attended high school in the city of Stryj, located about thirty kilometres from his village. During his final year of high school, Kunda was arrested for his political activities. No longer allowed to attend public school, Kunda completed his schooling in a private high school run by the Ukrainian Catholic Church. After high school, Kunda hoped to attend university but no university at the time would accept students with diplomas from private schools. Instead, Kunda attended a technical school run by a federated co-operative, where he received training in the production of dairy products. He completed his training in June 1939, and worked for several months. In September 1939, Kunda returned home to discover that his mother had passed away only days before. Kunda decided to head west, and in December 1939 he arrived in Prague, Czechoslovakia. A month later he entered the University in Prague to study inorganic chemistry. In 1944, Kunda was arrested for his involvement with a radical political group and spent a year in prison. He was released on January 20, 1945 on the condition that he could not continue his studies. Kunda found employment as an assistant to Professor Huttig at the University Institute of Geology. In spite of the conditions placed upon him, Kunda was able to take his final examination with the help of Professor Huttig. On May 5, 1945, Kunda received his diploma. The next day the university was closed in a Czechoslovakian uprising and a number of professors, including Huttig, were arrested. Shortly after, Czechoslovakia and Germany began fighting. Kunda decided to travel to American occupied Pilsen, Czechoslovakia later that year, where he stayed in a camp for displaced persons. Three months later, in September 1945, he moved to Munich where he and a friend set up a small shoe polish factory. In 1948, Kunda married Vera Pawlikowsky of Lviv, Ukraine and together they moved to Canada. They landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia and traveled by train to Winnipeg, Manitoba. After spending a few days in Winnipeg they continued by train to Tees, Alberta arriving there in October 1948. The Kundas first daughter, Irene, was born a short time later. While in Tees, Kunda found work as a farm labourer while his wife worked as domestic help. Kunda then moved to Winnipeg to study the English language and a short time later moved his family to the city. Kunda worked for a few years in a laboratory at a brewery. Then in 1951 he found a research job with Sherritt Gordon in Ottawa, Ontario. Kunda and his family lived in Ottawa until 1953, at which time they moved back to Alberta. Kunda started work at a new nickel refinery built by Sherritt Gordon in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. During that same year the Kundas second daughter, Lydia, was born. Two years later their son Andrij was born. Kunda was a noted Canadian scientist, engineer and chemist with Sherritt Gordon Mines for a number of years. During his career he patented over thirty chemical processes, authored or co-authored dozens of scientific papers, and was a noted lecturer across the continent. Following his retirement from Sherritt Gordon in the late 1970s, Kunda became a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Mineral Engineering at the University of Alberta in 1980. His research focused on the extraction of precious metals and he developed a process to recover silver from photochemicals and regenerate the solution. The process was patented in 1992. Kunda was also an honourary lifetime member of the Edmonton Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association, President of the Ukrainian Catholic Council of Alberta, and held memberships in a number of organizations including the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Ukrainian Professional Engineers, PLAST, and the Alberta Ukrainian Commemorative Society. Wasyl Kunda died in 1997 at the age of 84. Fonds consists of records created by Kunda in his capacity as a scientist and inventor in Alberta, and reflect his activities during his career with Sherritt Gordon and later with the University of Alberta. The records were arranged by documentary forms by Vera Kunda and include patents, correspondence, scientific articles, photographs, and reports.