A Radiant Life

The Honourable Sylvia Fedoruk, Scientist, Sports Icon, and Stateswoman

Reviewed by Sydney Lockhart

Posted December 1, 2021

Playing girls’ sports was one of the first contributions Sylvia Fedoruk made to her Ukrainian-Saskatchewan community. Then, as she furthered her education, she became a woman of note — not just for the small town of Canora, Saskatchewan, but for all of Canada.

Merle Massie’s book A Radiant Life tells Fedoruk’s story, starting with her parents’ wedding and her birth in 1927. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 1951, Fedoruk played a role in developing the first machine to successfully use radiation to treat cancer and was the first woman to join the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada.

Meanwhile, Fedoruk continued her involvement with sports, both as a competitor and as an organizer for women’s curling. She also became the first female chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan and, in 1988, the first female Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan.

Massie is a Saskatchewan-based historian, farmer, and author who tells the story of Fedoruk’s life with a narrative that not only highlights her great accomplishments but also her personality. Massie writes of Fedoruk: “With intelligence and wit, determination, some sarcasm and darkness, much warmth and grace, Sylvia was a whole woman who loved the province of her birth with a rare depth.” Fedoruk received numerous honours before she died in 2012.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2021-January 2022 issue of Canada's History.

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