In Celebration of

Jan Ilkiw

December 11, 1935 -  June 7, 2021

Jan (John) passed peacefully at the Toronto Grace Health Centre, with his family by his side. He was 85.

Jan grew up in Komańcza, Poland, in the Subcarpathian region, Sanok County. This beautiful landscape of his youth contributed to his life-long love of nature, forests, skiing. He grew up with four sisters, who, he recently shared, spoiled and indulged their Janusz all through his childhood.

Janusz had some popularity in his 20’s, singing and traveling around southern Poland with a local Komancza choir, with his deep, rich baritone. He was a smooth dancer (he and his wife Justyna would simply glide around the dance floor) and had an artistic heart.

He met his beloved wife of 59 years, Justyna, at a family wedding. Justyna was just crazy about him, as he was of her. He always considered marrying Justyna one of the most important decisions in his life — for, together they made the decision to uproot their lives and immigrate to Canada. He courted her with his eloquent and beautifully calligraphed letters (never-mind his ridiculous good looks). They married in 1962, and welcomed their son Myroslaw later that year; suffered the loss of a late stage miscarriage; then the birth of their daughter Violetta, 6 years later.

Jan immigrated to Canada shortly after Violetta’s birth, to lay the foundation for a new life for his family. His wife and children, would arrive, after what surely felt an interminable separation, in February 1972.

Jan couldn’t carry his love of forestry, experience in forestry management and training into Canadian work experience. He spent a majority of his working life at the Goodyear Tire plant. Life wasn’t always easy, as is often the case for new immigrants, but Jan had an unwavering work ethic, which carried to his children. He was skilled at fixing almost anything (his daughter thought he was master of the universe when she was a child). He single-handedly renovated all the homes the family would move to in Toronto, until finally settling into a brand new build in Etobicoke in 1984.

Jan took great pride in the accomplishments of his children, including his lovely daughter-in-law. He was always ready and willing to help — a shoulder to cry on, a paint brush for that hallway repaint, deck building, graduations, all of it brought him such satisfaction and joyfulness. His grandsons were always a tremendous source of love and delight for Jan. He and Justyna took great joy in looking after the boys when they were young.

Our dear father, dido and darling husband, you will be missed terribly. Jan is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Justyna, son Myroslaw (Tania), daughter Violetta, and his two wonderful grandsons Mathew and Julian, and his sister Julia (Harhaj). He is predeceased by his sisters Tekla (Zarebska), Anna and Irena (Kusy), and his parents, Anastasia (Zerebnyj) and Andrij Ilkiw.

Special thanks to all the truly wonderful staff at the Toronto Grace Health Centre, and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto. All the staff we encountered have been absolutely wonderful in this trying time of COVID-19. In particular, the staff in the palliative care unit of Toronto Grace cared for our father with such care and compassion in these last months. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre in support of their Palliative Care unit:


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Irina (Friend)

Entered June 9, 2021 from Toronto

Please accept our sincerest sympathies on the loss of your dad.You were an amazing caregiver to him during his last few months at hospital. I’m sure his passing was peaceful as he was surrounded by those he loved.His home was always open to friends of his son ,daughter and daughter-in-law, with his ukrainian hospitality you never leave with out trying Ustyna cooking, which he was always very proud of.
You are in our thoughts,
Kazantsev family.

RJ FALCONI (Neighbour & Friend)

Entered June 9, 2021 from Bond Head

Violetta - I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad. Reading the life history, he was such a special person and a wonderful father. An incredible journey shared by many of us who had parents that immigrated to Canada and the hardships they endured to raise a family in a new land and to give us a chance at new freedoms and opportunities. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. He will forever be in your heart. Stay strong.

Teodor and Julianna Janiga (Sister-in-law)

Entered June 9, 2021 from Markham

Our brother-in-law. The day you left, was a day none expected that day, was very hectic, no one could understand why no chance to say goodbye.
There is so much I wish to say. You left without warning. Gone so fast, now all we have are memories of our past. You are loved by so many. You might not have known, but in our hearts is where you have grown.
God saw you getting tired, so he put his arms around you and whisper "Come to Me"
The Lord who gives and takes.
I remember our last conversation and goodbye, little I know it was forever.
John, may you rest in the hands of the Lord.
We will miss you, and love you and things will never be the same without you.
- Thank you for becoming the big brother I always wanted.
- Thank you for loving my sister.
- Thank you for giving me, beautiful Niece and Nephew
- Thank you for bringing me here into your life.
- Thank you for your kind words.
- Thank you for being just Janusz to me.
I may not handle my emotions. The way that I should do . But still, thank the Lord for the time I had with you.
Rest in God's paradise.

David Jolly (Friend of daughter)

Entered June 9, 2021 from Port Burwell, Ontario

My deepest condolences are extended to the IIkiw family. May Jan RIP

Dave Ground (Friend of Violetta)

Entered June 10, 2021 from Bradford

Violetta, I'm very sorry in hearing the passing of your Dad. The obituary I just read was wonderful. He was a fantastic person and wonderful father. Start each day with one of your great memories of your Dad and time will heal.


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