How To Research Ancestors from Volhynia, Russian Empire

How To Research Ancestors from Volhynia, Russian Empire

by Angela Fiebelkorn, MGS #5795
VP Communications



Volhynia (English), Volyn’ (Ukrainian & Russian), Wołyń (Polish), Volin (Yiddish), Wolhynien (German)

Many Manitobans have ancestors who came from the province of Volyn’, Russian Empire (1721-1917), but self identified as being Ukrainian, Ruthenian, German, Polish, Jewish, Lithuanian, Mennonite, Russian, and Romanian to name the most prominent ethnicities from that region.  This information can be found on the 1901, 1911, 1921 Census of Canada under Racial or Tribal Origin, in the 1916 Census under Race, and in the 1931 Census under Racial Heritage.  A brief understanding of Volhynian history will help place the context of the late 19th and early 20th century immigration to Manitoba from Volhynia.

A Brief History of Latter Day Volhynia

Today, Volhynia is a historical region located in the northwestern part of present-day Ukraine and adjacent areas in southwestern Belarus and eastern Poland.  In the late 14th century, Volhynia came under the influence of the expanding Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had high levels of ethnic diversity and religious tolerance thanks to the Warsaw Confederation Act of 1573.  Here followed a period of relative stability, until 1648 which saw an emerging series of uprisings, rebellions and civil war over the next 150 years.  By 1795, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist and saw the region assimilated by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.  Volhynia was divided between the Russian Empire and the Austrian Empire, with the western parts becoming part of the Austrian province of Galicia, and the eastern part a province of the Russian Empire (1795-1917).  It was during the latter days of the Russian Empire that the migration from this region to Canada started.

This is MGS Member content.  Please log in to view.