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Klymasz, Robert Bohdan
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Dr. Robert Bohdan Klymasz was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1936. In 1957, he obtained a B.A. from the University of Toronto, and later studied at the University of Manitoba (M.A., 1960), Harvard University (1960-1962), Charles University, Prague (1962), and Indiana University in Bloomington (Ph.D., 1971). His doctoral dissertation “Ukrainian Folklore in Canada: an Immigrant Complex in Transition” was supervised by Richard M. Dorson. He married Shirley Zaporzan in 1963, and they had two daughters, Andrea and Lara. In 1967, he joined the Canadian Museum of Civilization and served as its first programme director for Slavic and East European Studies. Throughout his career, he has held several prestigious positions, including the executive director of the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok) in Winnipeg, visiting associate professor in Folklore at Memorial University's Department of Folklore, visiting professor in Folklore and Slavic Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, and visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School.
In 1993, as a curator with the Museum of Civilization, Dr. Klymasz began a comprehensive study on community life in Gimli, Manitoba. Fieldwork on this project began in 1993 and continued on an annual basis every summer until the summer of 2001. The project, which became known as the Gimli Community Research Project (G.C.R.P.), was meant to offer insight on what makes the Town of Gimli a safe and prosperous town in which to live. The early work was low-key in nature, focusing on the town's life and culture, for example, attending meetings of the town's council, various public forums, proceedings of the local public law court, and meetings of the Board for the New Iceland Heritage Museum. Gradually, the fieldwork shifted to monitoring phenomena that gave Gimli its "dreamtown" quality. The final report was completed in 2002 and was entitled ""Dream Town": Art and the Celebration of Place in Gimli, Manitoba."
Upon his retirement in 2000, he was named Curator Emeritus with the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Dr. Klymasz is a renowned expert on Ukrainian Canadian folklore, having extensively written, published, and lectured on this subject. His publications include An Introduction to the Ukrainian-Canadian Folksong Cycle (1970), Ukrainian Folklore in Canada (1980), 'Svieto': Celebrating Ukrainian-Canadian Ritual in East Central Alberta Through the Generations (1992), and The Icon in Canada (1996). Dr. Klymasz also published numerous articles in scholarly journals, and many reviews of books and exhibitions in Canada's Ukrainian and Icelandic ethnic press. He continues to pursue his recent interests with grants from the University of Alberta (CIUS) and the University of Manitoba (CUCS).
Dr. Klymasz was awarded the Marius-Barbeau Prize by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada (Laval University) for his studies in Ukrainian Canadian Folklore. In 2005, he completed the Archival Research Project on Walter Klymkiw, the conductor of Koshetz Choir, titled "Playing around with Choir": the Correspondence and Papers of Walter P. Klymkiw. The manuscript is held at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. Between 2006 and 2012 he completed several archival research projects including “A priest, a maestro, a community: epistolary insights into the music culture of Winnipeg's Ukrainian community, 1936-1944” (2006-2007), “Winnipeg Papers on Ukrainian Music” (2008), “Nuggets from the past: quotations on the Ukrainian experience in Canada” (2007), “Winnipeg Papers on Ukrainian Book Culture” (2009), and “Winnipeg Papers No. 5 “Cossacks and Indians? Encounters, Abductions, Guilt, Ballads and Empathy on the Prairie and Beyond” (2012). The manuscripts are held at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. In 2013 a Ukrainian translation of Klymasz's 1971 Indiana University PhD dissertation was published in Ukrainian, under the title, 'Ukrains'ka narodna kul'tura v kanads'kykh preriiakh' (Kyiv: Duliby, 2013).
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Revised by Orest Martynowych (May 2020).