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map Sanok      Stanisław "Stan" Biega, was born May 6, 1923 in Liszna, a village 4 km. north east of Sanok, south-eastern Poland. His father was Jan Biega and his mother was Karolina Ryniak. Jan Biega engaged in farming and logging and also had tenant farmers on his property that included land on the river San, directly across from Dębna (the village inn which there are many Biega families). Stan had one sister who was two years younger, Janina. There is reason to believe that Stanís grandfather was Jędrzej (Andrew) Biega who owned 74ha of land (see "Sanok - dzieje miasta" ISBN 83-86077-57-3, published in Krakow in 1995, p.405) although this matter is still being researched by Stanís son Ron.

     Stan was two years of age when his father Jan died following an unprovoked altercation with another man. He may have been collecting rents at the time and he may have been on his way home after a night with friends at a local pub, Karczma. In any event, Stan and his sister were raised by their mother until the spring of 1930. At that time, his mother succumbed to pneumonia after swimming in the river to cool off after working in the fields.

      Following the death of his mother, Stan and his sister were raised by an uncle who was part of the Filipczuk family. Stan frequently went skiing and ski jumping in the nearby Słone Góry (in English, Salty Mountains) during the winter and he was best friends with his first cousin Mieczysław Filipczuk who continues to reside with his family in Liszna.

     Stan aspired to being a doctor and surgeon one day, but World War II intervened when he was a 16 year old high school student. As the Nazi army was approaching Sanok in September 1939, he was drafted into the army. His unit retreated eastward into the mountains under relentless attack and hid for a period of time. When the Soviet army took over the area he was captured and sent to a labour camp where he almost died that winter. He established a rapport with the Russian doctor in the camp who, after about a year, sent him to a Russian fishing boat in the Black Sea. He tried to escape twice, almost drowned once, but was captured again.

      After the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, the Soviets released most Polish prisoners and allowed them to join the Polish units being created by General Anders. Stan was evacuated through Iran to Palestine, where he underwent several months training, then served in the Polish II Corps which was part of the British 8th Army that was then advancing through Italy. He participated in the furious and bloody battle that ended with the successful capture of Monte Cassino.

     After the war, the Polish II Corps was transferred to Great Britain and Stan lived in London for two years working as an auto mechanic. During this time, Stan was able to re-establish contact with his sister who advised him that it was not safe to return home under Soviet rule. Janina around this time married Stan Musiał and they had two children. In January 1948, Stan accepted an opportunity to emigrate to Canada. He spent a brief time on a farm near the Quebec border before leaving for Toronto in search of work. He found employment as a machinist at Massey-Harris (later called Massey-Ferguson), a world wide manufacturer of farming equipment, mainly tractors and combines.

      Stan was a gifted singer and ballroom dancer (waltzes and polkas) and he spoke half a dozen languages that he learnt during the war. In the summer of 1948, he went to a dance at the Polish Hall on Beverly St. in Toronto where he met Genowefa "Jean" Kostuch, his future bride. Jean was also a Polish emigrant, the first born of Antoni Kostuch of Marszowice and Maria Nowak of Gdov, and she arrived in Toronto in 1938 at the age of 11. Stan and Jean married in November 1948 and had five children: Gary Stanley (1949), Carol Marie (1950), Christine Elizabeth (1952), Ronald Jan (1956) and Stephen Anthony (1960).
During the 1950ís, Stan'Ss first cousin Genia Filipczuk Jaworski also emigrated to Toronto and Stan was very close to her and her daughter Rysia Wysotski of Oshawa, Ontario, who with husband Peter raised two children, Linda and Andrew.

     During his years with Massey-Ferguson, Stan was very active in his Union, the UAW (later CAW) Local 439 where he served in several executive positions. He promoted health and safety programs and fought to improve working conditions and benefits. He had a similar passion for politics and was a strong advocate for Medicare. During these years, Stan made two trips to Poland, in 1972 on his own and in 1976 accompanied his wife. He was re-acquainted with his sister who is currently divorced and lives in Krosno, Poland, not far from her two adult children.

     Stan retired in 1979 but he remained active with organized-labour causes; for example, he volunteered each year to run an information booth at the Canadian National Exhibition offering free pension advice and he attended conventions in Canada and the USA on a regular basis. He was also a member in good standing of the Polish Second Corp Army Veterans and he regularly toured with them and sang in their choir.



More about Biega families


Brief history of the Polish Second Corps
commanded by Gen. Anders


Here are some pictures. Then there will be more about the family.
The first photo is of the Filipczuk family in Liszna about 1930. Stan is in the picture with sister and mother.
Then Stan, on left, with a buddy in the Second Polish Corps in Italy in 1945
Filipczuk family Stan in II Corps
Stan was transferred to Britain with the II Corps in 1946.
Then he emigrated to Canada. This photo was in Toronto in 1948.
Stan in UK Stan in Toronto-1948
Stan marriued and had five children.
We see him with his eldest son and 2 daughters in 1955, near Wasaga Beach.
stan with 3 oldest children
Stan took an active part in Polish veteran affairs. The first photo shows him with a choir in 1991. He is second from the left.
The next photo shows him at a Memorial Day wreath laying.
Polish vets in Toronto Memorial Day

All photos from collection of Ron Biega. They may not be copied or reproduced without his express permission.

     In the summer of 1993, Stan was invited back to Monte Cassino to celebrate 50th anniversary celebrations in 1994. Alas, he had to cancel those plans when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months later. He passed away at home on February 24, 1995, at age 72. Jean Biega continues to reside in the Greater Toronto Area as do her children:

  • Gary is now a retired Toronto Hydro electrician and "Class A mechanic", a life long bachelor with no children.
  • Carol married Wally Tylak in 1969 and is employed at the Registrarís office at the University of Toronto; they have two sons, Michael (1975), a sheet metal worker, and Stefan (1977), an environmentalist now working in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
  • Christine is a secretary, now separated with one daughter, Jennifer Moran (1981), a social worker now employed in Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Ron married Cheryl Tucker in 1981 and is an appeals officer with the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. They have three children:
    • Jan (1986), a fourth year international relations major at University of Toronto who also goes by the name biegaman on several international beer websites;
    • Sebastian (1990) is a high school senior who aspires to a career playing guitar, heavy metal or classical;
    • Alannah (1993) is just starting high school and is very involved with competitive baton and dance, has written newspaper articles and tutors on a regular basis.
    They travel frequently and recently visited Cracow and Sanok.
  • Stephen is currently single with no children; he has worked in sales and promotions and is currently self-employed as a management consultant.

The text of this article was written by Ron Biega, Toronto

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Last update March 16, 2014