Damian Piskun was born on Nov. 12, 1904 in Zinkiw, a small place north of Poltava in Ukraine. Father Ivan was a high-ranking officer in the Russian Imperial Army and was killed in the war with Germany in 1915. Mother Marija was a daughter of the wealthy farming Bazali family. Damian spent four years in a Moscow primary school after which he was enrolled in The Poltavian Cadets Academy. In 1918, The Russian Revolution was spreading and mother became concerned for their safety and decided to take her children Damian, Aleksey and Marija to the Black Sea Crimea Resort area, hoping to escape the conflict. On the way, the train stopped in the town of Lozovoje. It was supposed to remain there long enough to allow Damian to go inside the station to get hot tea. Tragically, when he returned the train was no longer there. Fortunately, The White Army was passing through and an officer who happened to be a friend of his father recognized him and could not leave him there alone. He spent 1½ months travelling with them. While the army was involved in skirmishes, they kept him safely in the background until the officer found his school in Vladikavkaz and sent him with an escort to join his classmates. The school was also in the process of evacuating to The Black Sea. To avoid falling into the hands of The Bolshevics, they took a much more difficult and longer route across the Kavkaz Mountain Range and arrived at the sea port of Batum. He was never to see his family again.
After some challenges they crossed The Black Sea in a fishing barge and arrived in Istanbul, Turkey. They could not remain in Turkey, but fortunately King Aleksandar of Serbia provided the necessary transfer and brought them to Serbia in 1920. They settled in the small town of Bela Crkva in the empty army buildings to continue their education there. Damian graduated in 1925. He then enrolled in Belgrade University taking Electrical Engineering, but after two years of struggle he could not continue due to a lack of funds. This is when he met Vera Trajkovic. They were married and lived in Belgrade with their four children.
At the end of World War II in 1945, big powers at the Yalta conference divided Europe and Yugoslavia became part of the Eastern Block. In 1948, Yugoslavia split from The Central International Communist Committee which was dominated by the Soviet Union, so Tito’s regime began a serious conflict with Moscow. Yugoslavia remained committed to communist ideology, but not under Soviet influence. Damian was expelled from Yugoslavia as an undesirable, due to his Russian ancestry. He then left with his wife, son, Sergije and daughters, Ksenija and Tatijana, for Trieste where they remained in a transient camp for almost a year before they immigrated to Canada.
The family arrived in Canada in 1951 and spent their first year on a sugar beet farm near Picture Butte, north of Lethbridge, Alberta. Finishing one year of their 3-year contract, they were released and moved to Lethbridge where they spent the winter. In the spring, they moved to Calgary where they remained until 1954 when they moved to Toronto. Their oldest son, Jovan, at that time was in the compulsory army service and could not join them. After release from the army, he found it necessary to go to Austria and declare political asylum. He joined his family in Toronto in 1956.
Damian was a founding member of the Imperial Russian Cadet Society under the auspices of The Canadian Veteran Legion in Toronto and was involved in many charities and benefits for the cadets and their families. He died in 1979 in Toronto.
Vera Trajkovic was born on June 8, 1912 in the small town of Obrenovac, Serbia, about 35 km west of Belgrade. Her father, Jovan, was a cabinet maker. Mother Evica died when Vera was about 14. Father remarried, but Vera didn`t get along with her stepmother and moved to Belgrade. She had five brothers and two sisters, all older. Three brothers died in the war in 1918 and two other brothers and one sister died in the 1930’s. Last sister Leposava (Lepa) Scelovic died in 1974. All Leposava’s children (a daughter and two sons) are deceased but had children. Daughter Radmila (Rada) Vinter had a son Tomislav (Toma) and a daughter Ceca. Son Ljubomir (Ljuba) had no children and the other son Vojislav (Voja) had a daughter Danica (Maca) Gordjevic and son Vlasta. Vera died in 1994 in Toronto.
Sergije Piskun 2018