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1939 1955

1956 1965

1965 1971

1971 - today

The Beginnings in Western Canada:1939-1955


Vladimir at approximately 4 years old

 

Nothing in Vladimir Horik’s background seemed to indicate that he would eventually become a painter. He was born into a humble family of Ukrainian immigrants who were farmers in their home country. His father, who came to Canada for a "visit" when he was 18 years old, ended up in Alberta where he stayed for the rest of his life. His mother was born on an Alberta farm of a father also from Ukraine who was only ten years old when he came to Alberta with his parents in 1898, even before that region became a Canadian province; that fact made him a genuine Western settler.

The marriage of his parents, in 1937, which led a year later to the birth of a stillborn baby girl and, the following year, to Vladimir’s, ended up in divorce not long after. During his childhood and teen-age years, he often moved from place to place because his mother, who had to earn their living, could not always take care of him personally. Alternately, he lived with his mother or father, in Edmonton, at his mother’s friends who took care of him like their own children, and with an uncle and aunt who lived on a farm east of Edmonton and who had a son his age. Vladimir often said himself: "Even if I come from a broken family, I have never lacked care, attention and love".

When he was about eight years old, his mother moved with him to Field, British Columbia. The years he spent there were a golden period which left an indelible mark on him. While the village of Field, located in the Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains, offered a quiet and free lifestyle, very close to nature, it was also a railway traffic hub. Vladimir could, as he pleased, hike in the mountains, build a cabin in the trees with his friends, fish in rivers full of fish, go mountain or trail skiing, and admire the big locomotives and the long trains that all stopped over at Field. That’s probably where his love for nature, mountains and landscapes stem from.


Type of Steam Locomotive Vladimir Was Working on

At the age of 15, his school days ended prematurely and an "adopted big brother", who was working for the CPR in Edmonton, helped him find a job as a railway worker. His night shift job consisted in taking care of the maintenance of the huge steam locomotives that drove the trains: light the fire to build steam, grease the wheels, move the locomotives to fill them with water and coal, and finally bring them back to the roundhouse. Proud to have a man’s work entrusted to him in an environment that brought back good memories, Vladimir carried out his duties as best he could, but he admitted feeling terrorized at times by the size and the power of the engines, him being so young and not very tall.

However, the work became monotonous with time; he longed for a more stimulating life and he was looking for a way of getting out of his environment. He knew that the world was broad and that his was limited. One day he saw a poster of the Canadian Armed Forces showing a parachutist dropping in a beautiful blue sky and bearing the slogan "Join the army and see the world". That’s all it took for the young man eager for change and adventure: at the age of 17, he joined the Canadian army. It’s also at that time that his father, who had remarried many years before, had two other sons who became the real brothers he always dreamed of having; but unfortunately, he did not get the chance to know them very well then because he was always posted elsewhere.

The Young Serviceman in Canada: 1956-1965