It is with sadness, that on November 9, 2023, our dedicated husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and great grandfather, Kazimierz “Kaz , “Kazik” Swica has passed away at the age of 92 at Copernicus Lodge, Toronto, Ontario. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 66 years, Maria Krupa “Marysia”, and his four children, Krystyna Esteves (Paul), Richard (Sue), George (Janis), Elizabeth Chalmers (Jeffrey), and eight grandchildren, Andrea (Emile Studham), Jordan & Jason Esteves, Emily, Hannah Swica, Rachel Swica (Mike Rotin), Karli & James Chalmers and five great grandchildren, Rio & Lola Studham, Hadley, Alora & Emmy Rotin.
He lived with the greatest of memories of his family in England (Gawel, Krupa, Hope, Wroblewski). Canada, United States & Germany, the US (Krupa & Palimaka, Swica, Bunkenburg), his treasured friends (Skadorwa, Kurys, Szczepkowski) and the Tatra Club Family. He was a proud and founding member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church. His fondest memories are those of his long term employees and business associates, many of whom had remained in his entire business career.
Kaz loved cars, emerging technology, computers and proudly and successfully created a Facebook profile. His love of animals especially any family dog that entered into his home, was reciprocated with major tail wagging, excited barking and a seat directly under his feet at all dinner tables.
Kazimierz was born in Pawlow, Tarnopol, Poland on February 3, 1931, the youngest of 5 children to Aleksander, an officer with the Polish Army and Genowefa (Chalupa). Kazik is predeceased by his parents and his siblings, Wanda, Amalia, Olga and Tadeusz.
His life and his will to survive all obstacles was a testament from the day he was born until the day of his passing. His life was full and historically fascinating.
After the German invasion on September 17, 1939, Poland was controlled and divided into German & Russian territories. The Soviet policy targeted over a million Polish citizens to 4 major deportations. Unconscionable, the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) arrived at the Swica home on February 10, 1940, at 2:00 a.m. and gave them a half hour to gather their belongs and food portions before they were taken by horse and sleigh and then loaded onto cattle trucks. Their journey to Siberia would take several weeks (4-6 weeks, as accounted by his sister Wanda) travelling North to Kotias, River Vychegda, and ending in Archangelsk. Thousands of Poles perished during this journey alone. Once they reached their destination, each member was provided a ½ meter living space in wooden structured barracks. In April 1940, the surviving Poles were forced to work in Siberian Labour Camps (Gulags). Sadly, Kaz’s sister, Amalia suffered a horrific death at the age of 16 while working at the camp.
WWII would once again change the displaced Poles including the Swica Family, when on June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. In desperation, the Soviets released an imprisoned General from the Polish Army, Wladyslaw Albert Anders to form the “Anders Army”. This led to the subsequent release of Poles to fight alongside the Red Army. Due to political frictions, shortages of weapons, shortages of food and clothing, the “Anders’ Army” led an exodus of Polish civilians through the Persian Corridor, into Iran, Iraq and Palestine. It was during the exodus, that Anders formed the 2nd Polish Corps fighting alongside the Western Allies. The Poles including the Swica Family travelled through Uzbekistan, Pahlavi, Persia now Iran, Tehran and were settled in a camp in South Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). These camps were specifically created for Poles in exile. During this time period, in 1943, at age 18, Kaz’s oldest sister Wanda joined the Polish Squadron which subsequently joined the RAF and continued to serve with the RAF until 1945.
Upon arriving in Rhodesia, Kaz received his schooling at Digglefold, in South Rhodesia from 1943-1948. This schooling continued to educate and prepared the younger generation as “Poles for Life” as well as to protect them from denationalization. After the war most refugees did not want to return to Poland which had become enslaved by the Soviet Union. As a result of my father’s sister service with the RAF and the 1947 Polish Resettlement Act, the family resettled as Displaced Poles in Nottingham, England in 1948.
Kaz was determined to succeed in his new homeland and he took multiple part time jobs to support his family. He was an avid self-taught photographer and quickly turned his hobby into a wedding photography business. He had photographed many of his lifelong friends’ weddings which he held dear to his heart. His photography obsession led him to purchasing too many cameras, a lot of dark room equipment and taking too many family photographs, that although at times annoyed us “not another one”, are now cherished memories.
In December 1952, Kaz met the love of his life Marysia on a bus on their way to their Catholic Churches’ Nativity Pageant. Not surprising to us, Marysia at age 15 was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. Kaz, portrayed the roll of one of the soldiers. Marysia was 6 years younger than Kaz, but immediately upon seeing her he stated “I am going to marry that girl”. However, Marysia was not allowed to date until she was 16. Kaz waited and asked her out immediately as soon as she turned 16. Her mother encouraged her to date him because he was a nice Catholic boy and wasn’t like the others who were just out having fun.
On July 20, 1957, they were married and began their family. Their first born Krystyna arrived in September 1958. Kaz and Marysia’s travel adventures were far from over and he decided to join his brother Tadeusz for a better life in Canada. In March 1960, Kaz, Maria, Krystyna and his parents arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the final ship carrying new immigrants to Canada.
Kaz always worked hard and learned the Tool & Die trade. He loved his work and his boss at the time, but knew he needed more. He dreamed of owning his own business and shortly into 1968, opened up Jutland Tool and Die Limited. By then, he was the proud father of 3 Canadian born children, Richard, George & Elizabeth.
The business grew successfully and by 1979, Jutland Tool & Die Limited moved to Mississauga into a larger building. The business expanded their services from a tool and die and a mould making facility to include an in-house plastics injection moulding plant. Within two years, a second building was purchased to facilitate the expanding business. Soon all four children were integrated into the business. The business carried on into 2010, when it regretfully, the business closed due to the economic environment.
His financial success was shared with those he loved being with. He and Marysia hosted many memorable parties for family and friends with bands, entertainment and of course wonderful food and family weekend events.
But for our family, the highlight was his desire to be the next Clark Griswold from his favourite Christmas movie “Christmas Vacation”. Christmas Lights could be seen by flights landing at Pearson Airport we all would say.
His life was full of travel and to say he has seen the world would be an understatement. He and Marysia travelled throughout many countries and went back to visit Poland in 1982 after the Solidarity movement.
With several health setbacks, including 2 bouts of colon cancer, he was unbeatable in his strength to survive. Unfortunately, at age 88, his health took its’ final toll starting with a small stroke in July 2019, and subsequent major stroke on December 27, 2019. The second stroke changed his life, Marysia’s life and his family’s life until the day he passed.
We cannot express enough gratitude to the 4 North Nursing Staff at Copernicus Lodge. Their spirit, care and strength throughout Kaz’s time with them since July 2020 will always be appreciated. We were battered with COVID outbreaks, social distancing and heartache that we were not always able to support him the way we would have liked to.
He would like to be remembered as an individual who loved life, loved to work, had a kind heart and with a great sense of humour. He often told us while at Copernicus Lodge, that when he dies and when he gets to heaven he hopes that God will give him a job because he likes to work.
Live, Laugh, Learn and surround yourselves with the people who bring you happiness and joy. Until we meet again. May he rest in eternal peace.
In his memory, if desired, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Copernicus Lodge Foundation, 66 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto ON M6R 3A7
Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada – 1200-2300 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4P 1E4