Definition: Ruthenian, Galicia, Novosilka

Ruthenian: The term “Ruthenian” has been used to describe several similar ethnic groups since the bronze age. It is synonymous with “Rusyn” and “Russniak”. When my great great grandfather Danylo Koszlak immigrated to Canada in 1910, the term was used to describe Greek Catholics speaking the Ruthenian language, living in a territory known as “Galicia” at the time.

Galicia: In Danylo’s time, Galicia was an autonomous province in the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in modern day Poland and western Ukraine. The name is taken from the city of Halychyna. Official languages were Polish and Ruthenian/Rusyn (Ukrainian). Galicia saw a huge emigration of its peasantry between 1880 and the start of World War 1 (1914ish) due to its poor economical state and inequalities between Polish landowners and Galician/Ruthenian peasants.

Novosilka: Novosilka is a village in the modern-day Pidhaytsi/Podhajce raion (“county”), Ternopil oblast (“province”) of Ukraine. In Danylo’s time, it was known as Nowosiolka, Berezanskyi/Brzezanskiy raion, Tarnopol, Galicia (Austrian empire). Until 1939, mainly Polish was used on documents from this area.

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