Oral History >Local People

John Jaciw (Biography)

John Jaciw was born in the village of Kolynci, in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast of Ukraine in 1932. As a young child, John admired the illustrations found in his Bible that were created by the famous French painter, Gustave Doré. Perhaps this admiration for illustrations and art at a young age was the inspiration for his own work later in life. John was 18 years old when he arrived in Canada in 1949 and has been a resident of Windsor since 1954. John began to work for Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. as a graphic designer and spent 30 years with this company, designing bottles, labels, and graphics. During his entire career, John also engaged in freelance work for a number of studios, commercial enterprises, charitable organizations and private individuals, assisting them graphically in their endeavours. John has been married to his wife Shirley since 1963, has two children, Dennis and Christine, and two grandchildren.

John studied at the Creative School of Art in Edmonton, Alberta; the Meizinger Art School in Detroit, Michigan; St. Clair College; and the University of Windsor. In addition, he has attended a number of artistic seminars in Michigan and New York State, and was granted membership to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in 1975. John has had his designs and artwork recognized locally, nationally, and even internationally. His work has included design work such as coins and bank notes, stamps, monuments, crests and logos for organizations and groups, humorous political cartoons for a Ukrainian magazine known as “BCEMIX”, acrylic painting, etchings, as well as other ventures such as wood-carving . He has created stamps and designs representing the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine and approximately 150 honouring personalities such as Taras Shevchenko, Vladimir the Great, and Lesia Ukrainka.


  • Honorary life membership by the Windsor Coin Club in 2001
  • Ukrainian Canadian Congress Volunteer Service Award in 2001.
  • Award of Excellence granted by the American Professional Graphic Artists in 1984.
  • Recognition for voluntary graphic contributions to many charitable organizations in Canada and the U.S., and by the Ukrainian Canadian Business and Professional Association of Windsor in 1977.
  • Ukrainian of the Year by the Graduates of Detroit, Michigan; and Windsor, Ontario.
  • His wood sculptures featured at the Chaika Art Gallery in Detroit, the Cleary International Centre, and the Windsor Wood Carving Museum.
  • Art Competitions and Awards:


  • Designed the crest for the City of Windsor in 1970
  • Designed the medallion for the City of Windsor in 1970
  • Designed the Centennial Anniversary logo for the City of Windsor in 1992.
  • Designed a monument located in Michigan, honouring Ukrainian American Veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces, the Insurgent and 1st Division of the Ukrainian Army, and the Ukrainian Catholic Veterans Melnyk Post 645.
  • Designed the cover for the book, entitled "Ukrainians in Windsor and Essex County", in 1995
  • National
    Prizes awarded by the Royal Canadian Mint for the following coin designs:

  • One of three winners (1st Prize) of the Windsor Star's Centsation coin design in 1999. His design, entitled "Ingenuity", became the 25¢ coin for the millennium in February 2000. Twelve coins (one for every month) for the millennium series were produced for the Royal Mint of Canada. John's coin, "Ingenuity", portrays an ideal environment of the future, where there is an interdependence of modern cities, rapid transportation, lush farmlands, and space exploration.
  • First Prize for the design of the one hundred dollar gold coin in 1983, commemorating the 400th Anniversary of St. John's, Newfoundland, as a sea port.
  • First Prize in 1991 for the design of the coin commemorating the discovery of Baffin Island.
  • Second Prize for a design celebrating the anniversary of the city of Toronto in 1984.
  • Third Prize in 1987 for design for Olympic barrel jumping.
  • International

  • Best in Show wood sculpture (1987) for the International Wood Sculpture Competition at the Cleary International Centre in Windsor.
  • First Prize for the international competition for the Ukrainian coinage, sponsored by Dzvin Magazine of Lviv, Ukraine, in 1992.
  • Latest Designs

  • Designed the convention medallion for the Windsor Coin Club in 2003.
  • Designed the Medallion for the 50th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Credit Union in Rochester, New York, in 2003.
  • Designed two competition medals for Rose City Gymnastics in Windsor, Ontario.
  • Designed the medal for the Pan Am Games in Windsor, Ontario, in 2005.
  • Charities
    John Jaciw has created or designed a number of objects in order to raise money for charities including the following:

  • Children of Chornobyl Christmas greeting cards
  • Christmas greeting cards which were sent to soldiers in Iraq
  • Granite sign for St. Anne's Church in Windsor
  • I.D. logo for Sts. Vladimir and Olga Catholic Church
  • Logo for "Two Thousand Years of Christianity" in Warren, Michigan
  • Concept designer and participant in the wood carving of a mural for the Centennial of the City of Windsor, which was a gift to the city and is found in the Cleary International Centre.
  • Stamps and Christmas cards and crests for the UBC (Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of Detroit) from 1962 till 1994.