A Life Lived

Fenna (Kapeluch) Kordan


Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Survivor. Born on April 6, 1918 in Vyslik Velykyj, Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire; died December 13, 2020, in Toronto, under COVD conditions.


Fenna Kapeluch was born in the Carpathian mountain village of Vyslik Velykyj during the 1918 flu pandemic, the end of the Great War, and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The daughter of Chrystyna (Drozd) and father Andrij, she was one of eleven children. Compelled to work as an itinerant worker at a tender age because of poverty, she was left unschooled. However, she was not without a book or pen in life, having learned, unaided, to read and write through strength of will and purpose.


Fenna would marry before the onset of the Second World War. The German invasion of Poland introduced turmoil to her life. She would lose her husband to war, who was seized by Nazi authorities and sent to a concentration camp. She was transported as forced labour to Germany and, from there, taken to Austria. Alongside French prisoners of war, she was compelled to work as an agricultural worker on a farm near Klagenfurt, Austria, labouring for four years under harsh and trying conditions.


Fleeing at the end of the war from servitude, Fenna returned to her mountain home on the Polish-Soviet frontier. There she found chaos, the result of conflict between the anti-communist Ukrainian insurgency and government forces. The conflict led to untold suffering among the population, culminating in the forced resettlement of the local Ukrainian inhabitants by Soviet and Polish authorities who sought to defeat the rebels this way. In the cycle of violence that ensued, in her arms, Fenna’s mother would die of starvation. Fenna would flee and take refuge in the mountain forest wilderness, making her way eventually to Czechoslovakia and onto Western Germany. In 1948, she would migrate to Canada as a displaced person.


The memory of conflict was never far away, shaping her worldview, state of mind, and personality. Nevertheless, despite the cruelty of war, she sought normalcy. Fenna remarried (Andrij), made a home, raised children (Olga [and Henry]. Bohdan [and Bohdanna]) and cherished her grandchildren (Nicholas [and Hung Chiu], Olena [and Daniel], Christian). She took great comfort in family, speaking lovingly and with admiration of their achievements. She valued her garden, delighting in dahlias and going gaga over geraniums. The munificence of her vegetable harvest served to remind her of the bounty and richness of life.


Fenna took pride in the dignity of work: first, as a nursing assistant at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto, but then, wanting freedom in work, chose to be a domestic. Cultural identity was also dear to her. She celebrated holy days and family gatherings with the dinner table groaning under mounds of Ukrainian food – borscht, holubtsi, varenyky, patychky. As a believer, she kept her faith close by, never losing sight that through God’s love we might find peace and salvation. Widowed for thirty-four years, she knew loneliness, but found strength in her perseverance and accomplishments. She maintained her garden until she was 98 years of age and lived alone in her home until 99. At 102 years of age, she survived an operation on her broken hip, but not the isolation of the pandemic – the second in her life.


In the end, Fenna was disciplined, uncompromising, and even fearless in her approach to life. Above all, she believed that no matter how simple her life, her life was deserving of respect. When she received restitution from the government of Austria for her mistreatment during the war, she gave the money away. What she simply wanted was for there to be a record and an acknowledgement of what happened; to have others know that she mattered – that, in fact, we all mattered.


We bow our heads before her in remembrance and with love and respect.


“Due to the current pandemic restrictions and under direction from our regulator, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, effective November 14, 2020 all funerals and visitations will be by invitation only to limit the number of people in attendance and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We encourage those that are unable to attend in person to express their sympathy by posting a message of condolence to our website and or, donating to the charity."



Burial / Entombment / Cremation


July 01, 2021
Taylor Kennedy
My condolences to Olga and Bohdan.
December 21, 2020
Laurel Schollen
Dear Henry and Olga, My deepest condolences to you and your family on the loss of your beloved mother and grandmother. What a beautiful tribute for a very beautiful woman of courage, wisdom and grace who lived an extraordinary life. Thinking of you during this very difficult time, Laurel
December 20, 2020
Sonia Maryn
Dear Bohdan and Dania, please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your Mother. She truly had an extraordinary life — some of which was, yes, imposed upon her not by choice, as many of her generation experienced. As a child of the DP immigration myself, I consider this generation to be utterly amazing in what they survived and, then, in their new home of Canada, managed to build to sustain the patriotism of their children to Ukraine. We lost my own Father on November 1 at the age of 99. He, like your Mother, was among the last of their Toronto “hromada” left standing. To offer a moment of silence is far too little to honour them all, but please accept that on behalf of all of my family, together with my lasting friendship for you both, Much love, Sonia Maryn.
December 20, 2020
Kim & Zhi Jun and family
Remembering her wonderful and gentle soul will forever remain in our hearts. May she rest in peace.
December 18, 2020
Terry Kelly
Dear Olga and Henry, Thinking of you as you reflect on the loss of the truly tremendous woman. Thank you for so eloquently sharing her extraordinary life story. Love and Peace
December 17, 2020
Carol Kahar
Dear Bohdan, Our heartfelt condolences on your loss. Mrs Kordan's remarkable life journey mirrored that of her people, lived with strength, love, and determination. May she rest in peace. Carol & George Kahar
December 17, 2020
Jennifer Lewis
Olga, What a beautiful memorial to a strong and resourceful woman. I can't imagine how hard it is to lose her in the middle of a pandemic. My heart goes out to you and your family. Lots of love
December 17, 2020
Tracy Cunningham
Dear Olga, my sincere condolences on the loss of your mother. Keeping you in my prayers.
December 17, 2020
Jill Ing
Helen (Fenna) made us so welcome in the community. She was such a sweet neighbour, sharing her perogies with us, and putting our bins away for us while we were away at work on garbage day. We enjoyed our tea visits with her, and even shared a wee nip of something fun together if the occasion called for it. I will never forget that sweet voice and smile.
December 16, 2020
Jean MacDonald
Dear Olga and Henry, My deepest condolences on the loss of your mother. A warrior once and always. Keeping you all in my prayers.
December 16, 2020
Henriette van de Pol - de Cock
Dear Olga and family, Our sincere condolences. Your mother was a strong woman and how beautiful with everything she has been through, she still turned 102. All the more sad that she died from COVID-19. May she rest in peace ! “ Stronger than the loss is the memory that remains“. Tante El & ome Gert, Joop & Henriette, Corrie & Peter
December 16, 2020
Shanti and Anil
Our sincere condolences to you and your family. A strong, determined lady who survived harsh early days with strength and determination. May you all find comfort in the memories you have made with her. 🙏
December 16, 2020
Borys & Donna Sydoruk
Our sincerest condolences for the loss of your mother and baba. May she rest in peace!
December 16, 2020
Professor Lubomyr Luciuk & Ms Katharine Wowk
Our sincere condolences to the entire Kordan family on the loss of your mother and grandmother. May she truly rest in peace, having lived a remarkable life of purpose and meaning, never forgetting her Ukrainian homeland while making Canada, her adopted country, the better for all she achieved during a long and good life here. ВІЧНАЯ ПАМ'ЯТЬ!
December 15, 2020
Please accept my sincerest condolences on the passing of your mother/grandmother.