Monday, 16 December

Rare Photos from Bardizag and Bursa: The Mona Selyan Collection - Toronto

The Mona Selyan collection is an archive rich in photographs and documents that depict family members of both the maternal and paternal sides of Mona’s family.

The maternal side of the family, the Yezeguellians were from Bursa, while the paternal side of the family, the Selyans were originally from Bardizag (present-day Bahçecik). In this page you’ll find rare photographs from Bardizag and Bursa depicting the life of Mona’s ancestors in focus and the life of Armenians in Bursa and Bardizag in general.

All information was provided by and all materials were written in coordination with Mona Selyan’s mother, Azad (Azadouhie) Selyan, who was born in Kokinis, Piraeus, Greece, in 1931.

Mona’s maternal grandfather, Azad Selyan’s (née Yezeguellian) father, was Yezegel (Yeznig) Yezeguellian, who was born in Gallipoli in 1885 and died in Toronto in 1965. Azad’s mother’s name was Marie Boyagian [Boyadjian], who was born in Bursa in 1892 and died in Toronto in 1964. Marie’s mother, Mona’s great grandmother, Baydzar Lutfian Boyagian was born in Bursa, and died in Greece, in 1941, while her husband, Constantine (“Gosdan Agha”) Boyagioglu, Mona’s great-grandfather, died in Bursa, on Armistice Day, on November 11, 1918. Gostan was a tanner who produced heavy leather for shoe soles.

Marie Boyagian had 4 sisters, Gadarine, Yevnige, Sophie, and Noemie. Marie and her sister Sophie were both nurses at the Holy Saviour Armenian hospital (Surp Prgich) in Istanbul for 10 years. 

Marie married Yezegel and moved to Gallipoli around 1919. Their first child died, and the second child, a son called Garabed, was born in Gallipoli in 1920. Their only other surviving child was Azad. 

Yezegel Yezeguellian was a blacksmith; he made ship anchors and chains by hand. He had Greek marine clients who advised him that Smyrna was burning and that the Turks were approaching Gallipoli. The Greeks offered to take Armenians to safe harbour in Greece, so in 1922, the Yezeguellians emptied their church of treasures and buried their gold, and along with almost the entire Armenian population of Gallipoli, they were taken to Kefalonia, Greece, but were not happy there. They then went to Kokinia, Piraeus, which was populated by Turkish-speaking Greeks, so it was easier for Armenians to conduct daily business. The Yezeguellian family went from Gallipoli to Greece and eventually moved to Canada, where the descendants continue to reside.

In 1953, Azad Yezeguellian immigrated to Canada (first Montreal then Toronto). Her brother Garabed joined her in 1954. In 1956, her parents Marie and Yezegel also joined her in Canada. 

In 1955 Azad Yezeguellian married Arthur Minas Selyan in Canada, a compatriot Armenian who was born in Canada but whose family originally hailed from Bardizag. Arthur’s father Haroutune Selyan was born in Bardizag; the Selyans were 3 brothers and 3 sisters: Haroutune, Yervant, Mgrditch, Nvart, Zvart and Victoria.

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