Author: Josef Čermák (CzechFolks.com PLUS)
Weather and the opening ceremonies
The Czechoslovak (and later Czech and Slovak) Days used to be held on Sunday and the weather (if my recollection is correct) behaved as it should. Switching the date of our important day to Saturday apparently displeased the gods of weather and they started to spray us. This year wasn’t an exception, even though – although the sky over Masaryktown was full of playful clouds – it didn’t rain there. It rained though all around and that certainly affected the afternoon crowd. This year program was not that much different from the programs of the previous years: the mass before lunch and – until the midday – a soccer tournament, then lunch at the Prague Restaurant (the lunch was excellent), after lunch a march with flags to the monument Crucified Again, at the monument the laying of wreaths on behalf of the Masaryk Memorial Institute and Sokol, the national anthems. Then the microphone in the hands of the entertainers, Jan Šmíd and Zuzana Matějíčková, moved to the center of the field bellow the restaurant. In the speeches of the honorary guests (a Minister of the Ontario government, an M.P., the honorary consul of the Slovak Republic, Michael Martinček, a local councilor…we heard much praise for Richard Krpač, who, at this point, was not quite ready to go. In his thank you speech, delivered in perfect English, Richard Krpač recalled his first official appearance at Masaryktown. In anticipation o spending the whole day playing soccer, he came dressed as a soccer player. Which was fine, until he was called to the microphone to make an official speech. He came to the microphone in shorts and otherwise improperly dressed. For that – as he now smilingly recalled – he really caught it from one or two ladies. This time the ladies should have been pleased.
Conferring the Jan Masaryk Prize
Conferring the Jan Masaryk Prize was undoubtedly the most important part of this year’s ceremony. This year, Richard Krpač conferred the award on four Czech Canadians: George Heller, an entrepreneur, past CEO of the Hudson Bay Company (a company founded by Prince Rupert of Bohemia), Milan Kroupa, an entrepreneur (among others, Edenvale Aerodome). Professor Pavel Jelen, a leading member of our Edmonton community, and Miloš Krajný, who won the award last year; and four Slovak Canadians: Olga Turoková, an active member of the Slovak and Czech cultural communities, Pavol Džačko and Richard Štilicha, founders of Canada SK Entertainment company, and Ladislav Peter Kozák, pastor of the Slovak Lutheran Church in Toronto. The awards of those who were not present were accepted by their friends. Reverend Kozak’s thank you note was read by Josef Čermák.
Sokolfest at Masaryktown
The Sokol show at Masaryktown at the 63.Czech and Slovak day was one of the first events honoring the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Sokol in Canada.
The first exercise was performed by women. Well, that’s almost but not completely true: the women – from Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph were joined by two men from the Kitchener area, George Karger and Standa Staněk, who saved the honor of the Canadian Sokol manhood. The exercise they performed was written by a member of the Toronto unit, Anna Janoušová, back in 2002 (Anna Janoušová was our instructor when we performed her composition in 2004 and instructed this year’s group) – the 2004 performance was obviously the reason why I seemed to recognize it. Then Ivo Sypták who stood next me, said: “I remember that I could do it with them…” I am sure Ivo could. I couldn’t…Our Sokol sisters in the first row of the performing group were Hana Jurásková, Wendy Malysáková and Anna Janoušová and as I watched them, I realized the difference between an ordinary member such as myself and Sokols such as Jan Waldauf (who is in a class of his own), Anna Janoušová and Ivo Sypták, or Hana Jurásková, Jana Otrubová, Standa Staněk…All of them were somehow born into the Sokol sisterhood and brotherhood. I somehow married into it. They are the creators and leaders, while I am a simple member who managed with some difficulty to learn and perform the exercises (and loved the festivals and their bewitching atmosphere), I admired the movement’s antique roots and Czech contents. I realized how much I respected my Sokol brothers and sisters performing in front of me, how proud I was that I belonged to that wonderful group of people, who chose the noblest of motto’s: “Neither gain, nor glory.”
The women were followed by children and young men and women, all were magnificent, all gave all they had, and their coaches (Mary Anne Knibe, Wendy Malysáková, Robert Tmej, Ivo Sypták, sr., and Ivan Curilla; with their helpers, Mark Syptak, Nicole Syptak and Timothy Takacz) surely must have felt the loveliest of human joys, when we give ourselves without expectation of either gain or glory.
The last event of this part of the program was a performance by a Slovak dance group from Windsor, Rozmarin. They were outstanding, faces radiating smiles, swirling costumes, playful melodies…We are grateful to them for joining us for the 63. Czech and Slovak Day at Masaryktown. When I was leaving the lovely park early in the evening, the sky cleared, and crowds of young people were arriving for the camp-fire, set by Ivo Sypták and friends.
In spite of the hardly ideal weather, it was a successful day. The largest share of credit for its success goes (beside the performers) to Iva and František Ječmen:
To František Ječmen, president of the Masaryk Memorial Institute, who keeps this jewel of the Czech and Slovak properties abroad shining; and Iva for her work in organizing the event and assuring its smooth run.
100 YEARS OF SOKOL IN CANADA
The first Sokol unit in Canada was founded in the village Michel in British Columbia on October 23, 1911.
SOKOL CANADA celebrates: The celebration of this proud anniversary already began (for example at the 63. Czech and Slovak Day – see above) and continued at the Sokolfest in Cleveland.
Sokolfest in Cleveland
The first report from Cleveland sent by sister Janoušová (courtesy Marie Crháková) on July 1, read:
“Dear brothers: I am sending you joyful news. We brought here 7 competitors, 5 girls and 2 boys and I must tell you, that we have 2 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. That’s what you can call success. The children are enthusiastic. Allen Dixon, Robert Tmej and Luboš Frynta took care of the children and as coaches were perfect. … I received for Sokol Canada a beautiful commemorative plague for our centennial from the American Sokol and yesterday, at the meeting of WSF, a commemorative plague from the Czech Sokol….”
One family which certainly can’t complain, is the Fryntas: 4 of their children won medals (gold, silver, bronze): Julia Frynta, Elizabeth Frynta, Barbara Frynta and their little brother, Tomas.. They were joined by Madelaine Dixon and Mackayla Dixon and John Tmej. They all deserve a huge round of applause.
The following sisters and brothers performed the calisthenics – 7 sisters from Toronto: Jarmila Bečka, Marie Crhák, Svatava Heřmánek, Anna Janouš, Hana Jurásek, Wendy Malysák a Alice Tmej ; 2 sisters from Montreal: Míša Fuchs and Marie Hřib; 4 brothers from Montreal: Josef Hřib, Štefan Horný, Antonín Matoušek and Petr Stikarovský. Another 10 participated in the opening ceremonies.
Sokol summer games at Masaryktown, August 13, 2011
The next celebratory event will take place at Masaryktown in Toronto on August 13, to which everyone is cordially welcome. For information, please contact Hana Jurásek (905 838-5269)
The celebration in Sparwood.
The text on the commemorative plague, to be unveiled in Sparwood, conveys – in four languages – the Sokol story, and particularly the story of Sokol in Canada.
The Canadian Sokols hope to see you at the Sokol Summer games at Masaryktown on August 13, and at the Centennial celebration at Sparwood, on October 9.
What is “Sokol?”
The Sokol (meaning “Falcon” in English) organization is today an international gymnastic and sports oriented organization, founded in Prague by Dr. Miroslav Tyrs, a Czech university professor and nationalist, in 1862. At that time, the Czech people were under Austrian rule and its brethren, the Slovaks, under the rule of Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Dr. Tyrs intended Sokol to be a vehicle for raising national consciousness and personal health and well-being. Membership grew quickly and at the end of the First World War, Sokol members played a significant role in facilitating the establishment of the new country of Czechoslovakia in October 1918.
100 Years of Sokol in Canada (1911-2011).
Members of Sokol had emigrated to Canada in search of better opportunities at the dawn of the twentieth century, but it was not until 1911 that a group of Czech miners and their families found themselves in the Crow’s Nest Pass area, specifically in the then existing towns of Michel and Natal, British Columbia, not that far from present day Sparwood. It was in Michel that the first Sokol branch in Canada came into being on October 22nd, 1911. The first elected officers were Frank Trojanek as President, Joseph Beranek as Vice President, Vaclav Vohradsky as Gymnastic Director, Vaclav Brixa as Secretary and Tony Pondelnicek as Treasurer. Shortly thereafter, another Sokol branch was founded in the neighboring village of Frank, Alberta. After the end of the war and with changing economic conditions, the activities of both branches dwindled and eventually ceased, date unknown. What is known however, is that as late as 1947, a Mr. Kalivoda trained a local youth group in a Sokol gymnastic routine to perform at that year’s local ethnic festival.
Following the disbanding of the Michel and Frank Sokol branches, new ones were founded in Winnipeg in 1928, Montreal in 1929, Toronto in 1931, Regina in 1932, Battawa in 1940 and in Kitchener in 1949. Following the communist coup d’état in February 1948 in Czechoslovakia, when the Sokol organization was banned by the government, a new wave of Czech and Slovak immigrants founded additional branches in Montreal, Windsor, Toronto, Noranda, Ottawa and Vancouver. In 1952 all Sokol branches came under the umbrella on a national organization, Sokol Canada.
Today, Sokol Canada and its branches are active not only in gymnastics and other sports, but also in cultural and social activities. Since its inception almost sixty years ago, Sokol Canada has organized ten international festivals and its members have participated in turn in numerous Sokol events in other countries. Included in this participation is attendance at renewed all-Sokol festivals in Prague in 1990, 1994, 2000 and 2006, where Sokol was permitted to renew its activities following the collapse of communist rule in November 1989.
Sokol Canada members have greatly contributed to the evolution of gymnastic and physical fitness programs in Canada and have achieved notable personal success on the Canadian and international gymnastic scene. They held officer positions in the Canadian Amateur Athletic Association (Mr. J. Waldauf), in the Ontario and Canadian Gymnastic Federations (Mr. J. Waldauf and Ms. S. Corn), in the Canadian Forces (Sergeant J. Kasanda), as members of the Consultative Committee of the Canadian Council for Amateur Sport and Physical Fitness (Mr. J. Waldauf), as members of Canadian Olympic gymnastics teams (Mr. R. Kihn), as judges in world gymnastics championships (Mr. F. Vidlak) and as officers of the International Gymnastic Federation (Ms. S. Corn).
As Sokol Canada enters its second century, it faces a number of challenges to its continued existence. Changes in government and society, changes in interests of the upcoming generation, an ageing membership and loss of corporate memory, all conspire to hinder the continuing contribution of Sokol Canada members to Canadian society. Only the determined effort of each member to work sincerely and diligently and to cooperate with other members of society and the Sokol family will ensure that Sokol Canada will celebrate 200 years of its existence in Canada in 2111!
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63. Výročí oslav Československého dne na Masaryktownu
Počasí a zahájení
Československé (a později České a Slovenské dny) se na Masaryktownu konávaly v neděli a počasí se (pokud si vzpomínám pravdivě) chovalo, jak jsme od něj měli právo očekávat. Přeložení našeho významného dne na sobotu se bohům počasí nějak nelíbilo a začali nás pravidelně kropit. Letos zřejmě nebyl výjimkou, ačkoliv – i když nad Masaryktownem samotným potulovaly tmavé mraky – nepršelo (pršelo kolem dokola a to jistě mělo vliv na odpolední účast diváků).
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