Alexander Huziak was born on or about the
25th of March, 1906, in the Logberg District
approximately 30 miles east of Yorkton,
Saskatchewan, Canada. The fifth of
eight children of
immigrant parents from Eastern Europe,
he spent his early years in a very
rural setting among other newcomers of
Ukrainian and Icelandic descent.
of the Great War found him finishing up his
brief education (a Ukrainian kid in an
English school was not a great combination
at the time). By the age of 12 he was
spending weekends fiddling at local dances1.
worked many odd jobs throughout the area,
including self-employment as a painter. The
30's found him helping his eldest brother
Wasyl build numerous area churches, and
between 1942 and 1957, he undertook a number
of contracts for the finishing of the
interiors, including decorative
ornamentation, icons and murals. Included
was the interior of Our Lady of Assumption
church near Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, now
preserved as the
Historic Site. He later
established a small jewellery business in
Broadview and then Yorkton, finally working
as a finishing carpenter for a local
homebuilder from the early 60's until his
retirement in 1971.
built his first violin in 19352,
although it was in 1947 when he first was
"able to buy good tools & wood for violins"1.
By the time of his retirement, he had built
about a dozen violins; then, with more time
on his hands, he upped the pace to complete
one, two and once even three in a year. In
addition, he carved a couple of smaller
versions for grandchildren, including a
5-1/4" to challenge the then-current record
in the Guinness Book of World Records. While the majority of the wood
used in his violins was purchased from
professional supply companies, he used every
opportunity to source it locally - not by
felling a nearby spruce or maple, but by
raiding already well-seasoned wood sources.
Old threshing machines, and even an old
counter from a local hardware store, are
currently living a second life as musical
total, Jim Huziak produced about 50 violins;
we're not sure exactly how many as he was a
far better craftsman than accountant.
of his early beginnings at country dances,
he was especially fond of classical music,
with a special admiration for
Although not a religious man, it was perhaps
his many years of painting under the
acoustically-rich domes of country churches
that was behind his wish to some day hear
his violins played there.
Although he did not produce his violins
specifically for sale, he was not adverse to
parting with them if they were going into
the hands of talented players. Many
violinists of varying skills would stop by
his workshop where they got to spend an
afternoon trying out as many as they liked
with no pressure to buy. His asking price
of $2000 was beyond the reach of the average
amateur violinist in the 70s and 80s, but it
helped ensure that his instruments found
their way into the hands of serious players.
Huziak completed his last violin in 1996,
the year he passed away suddenly from a
The family has the majority of his most
recent violins on hand, but they are
unfortunately played only infrequently.
Occasionally during a quiet evening, one
will hear the mournful note of a tuning peg
slipping as a lonely violin plaintively
calls for attention. They deserve more.
family is attempting to locate and document
all of his violins (we currently know they
are spread as far as Toronto, Ontario
through Seattle, Washington, USA). One
nearer to home was recently assessed at many
times it's original selling price. As for
the ones we have here, our goal is to get
each violin into the hands of a violinist
where it can only get better.
a few will find their way unto the stage of
a country music show, or maybe a performance
in a cathedral or concert hall. Jim Huziak
would have liked that very much.