John Galanchuk was a hard-working man from Ukraine who wanted nothing more from his son than to get a good Canadian education. He had no interest in basketball or any silly North American games. As it was for most immigrant families who arrived on Canada's shores to give their children a better life, so it was for John and Minnie Galanchuk: Their son Kenneth was going to get a good education.
"My dad was a painter and he worked hard," said Ken with a smile. "When I was in university, he wanted me to quit playing basketball and concentrate on my studies, but my mom convinced him to let me play. I made him a promise that if I got one year - 1963 - to pursue basketball, I would quit and go back to school full-time. So he let me go to Lethbridge and play for the Lethbridge Broders, the Canadian senior champions.
"It was a great year, but I didn't quite give it up entirely after that."
Good thing, too. If Ken Galanchuk had quit prematurely, Manitoba would have been deprived of one of the greatest basketball players in its history, a man who is already a member of the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame and tonight will be formally inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Galanchuk was typical of Canadian basketball players in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was a top midget hockey player when he learned that the two coaches at Isaac Newton School, Jim Downey and Vic Pruden, were holding spring basketball workouts.
So Galanchuk, a solid natural athlete, attended the workouts and because of Pruden and Downey, he learned to play the game.
Those days with Downey and Pruden led to a remarkable career that reached its pinnacle during a six-month period between December of 1962 and May of 1963 when he left law school at the University of Manitoba to play in Lethbridge. By day, he worked at Broders Cannery in Lethbridge and at night played and practiced with the Lethbridge Broders, the team with whom he won a Canadian senior championship and represented Canada at a major international tournament in the Philippines in late 1962 and at the 1963 Pan Am Games in Sao Paulo and at the 1963 World Basketball Championships in Rio de Janeiro.
Galanchuck went on to play with the Manitoba Basketball team at the inaugural Canada Winter Games at Quebec City in 1967, where he won silver with playing with teammate and Honoured Member Fred Ingaldson.
He finally gave up the game in 1967 and made his father proud. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Manitoba and after practicing the profession for the next 24 years, was named a Federal Court of Queen's Bench Judge in 1991. He also served three terms as a Winnipeg City Councillor and from 1974-77 was a director of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club.
"I was lucky to have great coaches," he said. "From Mr. Downey and Vic Pruden, to Jimmy Bulloch at the U of M and Fredddie Ingaldson at IPAC. When you're fortunate enough to have great coaches like I did, you can go a long way."
Ken Galanchuk is also a member of the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame.