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In celebration of eighteen years at Enter Stage Right -- Bionote of Mark Wegierski

By Mark Wegierski
web posted January 4, 2021

Mark Wegierski was born of Polish immigrant parents, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

He attended the local public school, Swansea Public School, until Grade 5. (He had also  attended Kindergarten at the same site.) He still has fond memories of the crusty old teachers at Swansea, notably Miss Cochrane (his Grade 1 teacher), Mrs. MacIntyre, and Miss Little (his Grade 5 teacher). He completed three grades in two years, and thus entered Grade 5 after three years of grade school. He attended St. Pius X Separate (Catholic) School for Grade 6 (an old- school nun, Sister Hermann, was his teacher), and James Culnan Separate (Catholic) School for Grade 7. Being a year younger than most of the students in Grade 7 at James Culnan, he faced considerable bullying in that year. His problems were aggravated by the fact it was a semi- experimental “open concept school” with so-called “classrooms without walls”. Those kinds of faddish concepts were quite popular in the official school systems at that time, and the Separate school system wanted to prove they were just as “progressive” as the Public one. The unpleasantness at James Culnan was a powerful motivator behind his successfully writing the competitive examination for entry into the University of Toronto Schools. He was writing for entrance into Grade 7, for which he was the appropriate age. He had previously written the examination from Grade 6 (for Grade 7 at UTS), but had not succeeded at the first try.

Mark Wegierski completed his Ontario Secondary School Honour Graduation Diploma (OSSHGD) at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), a unique “public/private” model “laboratory” school linked for a number of years to the Faculty of Education, University of Toronto (FEUT), as well as to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).  UTS had been founded in 1910. The plural in the name of the school derives from the fact that originally, a separate school for girls had also been proposed, though it didn’t materialize. Eventually, however, UTS became a co-educational school.

After writing the competitive examination, Mark Wegierski began in Grade 7 in September 1973 (as part of the regularized, enriched/intensive six-year program at UTS). His year of intake was the first co-educational one at the UTS – where half of the available places were allotted to females – hence he was especially fortunate to have been accepted in that year, when there were 50 percent less spaces available for males. At that time, UTS was admitting a total of about 70 students a year. There were usually ten to twenty times the number of candidates writing the exam, as there were places available.

His studies continued into Grade 8, and then four years of study, then equivalent to the then-standard in Ontario five years of Grades 9-13. (At UTS, there was at that time, a system of designation of Levels I-IV.) He graduated as part of the Class of ’79 (in June 1979), as an Ontario Scholar.  He also won the DuVernet Award for Best Essay in Senior-Year Philosophy. Among some fond memories of UTS were his participation in the Southern Ontario Model (United Nations) Assembly (SOMA), especially the occasion when he was part of a two-man delegation representing the Republic of Peru. His most memorable teachers (among several others) were probably Norah Maier (English), Neil Maclean (History), Lynda Duckworth (Geography), Stewart Bull (English and History), Fred Speed (Science), and Dr. W. R. H. Montgomery (English and Philosophy).

In June 1974, Mark Wegierski achieved his Graduation Diploma (Grade 8) of the Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Saturday) Polish School (Toronto), Polish Alliance of Canada, with an over-all result of Very Good (5). He had completed the equivalent of 8 grades in six years.

Also, during the summer of 1975, Mark Wegierski had completed a Polish Ethnography Study Program (235 hours/college level) based in Kielce, Poland, for which he received a Diploma.

In August 1975, he received an Honourary Diploma for Participation in the First Polish Poetry and Prose Dramatic Recital Festival for Persons of Polish Descent Living Abroad, held in Torun, Poland.

In August 1977, he received a Diploma of Recognition for Propagating the Beauty of the Polish Language and Popularizing Polish Literature, at the Second Polish Poetry and Prose Dramatic Recital Festival for Persons of Polish Descent Living Abroad, also held in Torun, Poland.

Having successfully completed his studies at UTS, Mark Wegierski was accepted into St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with distinction, with a double Major in History and English Literature (1979-1983). The degree also included courses in International Relations, Political Science, Philosophy, and Modern Languages. He managed to take two courses with the world-renowned literary critic H. Northrop Frye.

This was followed by a Master of Arts (M.A.) in History (1983-1984), at the University of Toronto, focusing on International Relations, Modern and East-Central Europe, and the History of Ideas. He fondly remembers Professor Peter de B. Brock, the longtime East European studies scholar at the University of Toronto, as well as Professor Modris Eksteins, the cultural historian (author of the highly-acclaimed, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age).

In 1983-1984, Mark Wegierski was a Founding and Executive Member (Cultural Affairs), of the University of Toronto Polish Club, an attempt to establish the presence of a dynamic Polish students’ and faculty organization at the University of Toronto.

Subsequently, Mark Wegierski completed a Master of Library Science (M.L.S.) (1985-1987) at the University of Toronto, focusing on Collection Development in academic, and public reference libraries; Archives; and Rare Books. The degree included core library subjects (reference, cataloguing, and collection development); computer applications; statistics; management studies; analytical/historical bibliography; archival theory; history of books and print; and social/informational environment analysis.

A memorable occasion at the University of Toronto was his participation in a model United Nations Assembly, when he powerfully represented the Republic of El Salvador.

In 1982-1985, Mark Wegierski was highly active in a University of Toronto political party association, and was a University of Toronto Model Parliament “Member of Parliament” for four consecutive years.

In the annual Model Parliament election, campus political party associations received seats (out of a total of 100 seats) in a model Canadian House of Commons, or a model Ontario Provincial Parliament (in alternating years), according to the percentage of the student vote received (all University of Toronto students were eligible to vote). Generally, a party’s caucus was selected from the campus association membership by the executive – with the President of the association being the party leader; the Speaker of the Parliament was an actual prominent politician; there were several officers-of-parliament (student volunteers); and the Model Parliament was scheduled to meet for three days at Hart House, typically Friday-Sunday.

In 1989, Mark Wegierski took the course, “Online Information Retrieval: An Introduction” at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Library and Information Science (FLIS), Continuing Education.

In 1990, he took courses (two days each) in WordPerfect 5.0; dBase III+; and DOS/WP/Lotus/dBase Intro.

On January 17, 1991, Mark Wegierski placed first out of 54 persons in a branch-wide Management Skills Exercise (Division Support Branch, Computer and Telecommunication Services Division, Ontario Ministry of Government Services).

Also, in 1991, Mark Wegierski completed a Records Management Seminar (7 sessions – 21 hours in total), from RIM Services Inc., Toronto.

In January to March 1992, he took the WordPerfect 5.1 course (Winter 1992), at the Toronto Board of Education, Western Technical-Commercial School, Evening School.

In 1995-1996, Mark Wegierski was an Adviser for a provincial riding association in Toronto.

In 1996-1997, Mark Wegierski was Vice-President and Acting President of a federal riding association in Toronto.

Mark Wegierski returned to studies at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies, in 1998, with three Writing seminars.

He then studied at Ryerson University, G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, with four Creative Writing Workshop courses in 1999-2004.

In 2000, he participated in the prestigious Taddle Creek Summer Writers’ Workshop (four days) (with well-known Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer as his instructor) at Hart House, University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies.

On August 29, 2004, Mark Wegierski attended the official local ceremony of Polish-German reconciliation and the unveiling of a commemorative monument to both Polish and German victims of World War II, in Nieszawa, Poland (near Torun in the Kuyavia-Pomerania voivodeship).

In 2005, he achieved the Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing at the Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), The Humber School for Writers (an eight-month program).

In 2004-2009, he achieved the Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. Among other courses taken, he received a grade of “Honours” – equivalent to 90% or higher – in the “Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction” course taught by Caitlin Sweet, a noted Canadian fantasy and science fiction author.

In 2007-2009, he participated in eight sessions of the Humber Writers’ Circle, at Humber College, The Humber School for Writers. Each session lasted 135 minutes, and included an hour-long lecture, and 75 minutes during which the “first pages” of up to twenty participants, previously submitted electronically, were given quick “flash” assessments.

In 2013, he took a three-month Online Mentorship with Caitlin Sweet, a noted Canadian fantasy and science fiction author, at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies.

Mark Wegierski has been published in the scholarly journals Review of Metaphysics (Washington, D.C.), Telos (New York), This World: Religion and Public Life, and Politeja (Krakow: Jagiellonian University), among others. He has appeared in Polish in the scholarly collection, Literatura polska w Kanadzie (Polish literature in Canada) (Katowice: University of Silesia, 2010).

In Canada, he has appeared in the popular publications Alberta Report, Books in Canada, Catholic Insight (Toronto), Convivium, The Interim, and The Next City, among others, as well as in the mass-circulation newspapers, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, The Hill Times (Ottawa), Saint John Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick Reader), and Windsor Star. He has also appeared in the French-language, Quebec-based journal, Égards (Considerations).

In the United States, he has appeared in the popular magazines, The American Conservative (online only), American Enterprise, American Outlook, Chronicles, The World & I, and World Magazine, among others, and in the mass-circulation newspaper Providence Journal (RI).

His article about Canada was reprinted in Annual Editions: World Politics, 1998-99 (Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1998), a major college/university reader.

Mark Wegierski has extensively appeared in Polish-Canadian and Polish-American publications – including Goniec (Polish Messenger), Polonez: Canadian-Polish News, Nowy Kurier (New Courier), Gazeta (Gazette), Glos Polski (Polish Voice), Zwiazkowiec (The Alliancer), and Polish American Journal. He also appeared once in a Polish-Australian newspaper, and frequently in popular magazines, mass-circulation newspapers, and some e-zines in Poland – including Arcana (Krakow), Gazeta Polska (Polish Gazette), Miedzynarodowy Przeglad Polityczny (International Political Review), Mysl Polska (Polish Thought), Najwyzszy Czas (The Time is Now), Nowe Panstwo (The New State), Nowe Sprawy Polityczne (New Political Affairs), Obywatel (The Citizen) (Lodz), Opcja na Prawo (The Option on the Right) (Wroclaw), and Zielone Brygady: Pismo Ekologow (Green Brigades: Ecologists’ Journal). He published two special author’s issues of Zielone Brygady.

He has also appeared in the British publications, Salisbury Review, Right Now, and the revived Quarterly Review, as well as in the German weekly, Junge Freiheit (Young Freedom).

In 2017, his poem was published in the collection Full Stop (Warsaw, Poland: IRF [Interdisciplinary Research Foundation] Press), pp. 37-39.

Since April 2002, Mark Wegierski has continuously appeared in various recognized webzines, posting on the Internet approximately once every 7 days since that time.

Some more recent academic conferences where his paper was delivered include: “Transatlantic Encounters” (University of Lodz) 2008; Sir Thomas More Colloquium (Polonia University in Czestochowa) 2010; “Conservatism: Made in USA” (Catholic University of Lublin) 2010; American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting 2010 (Washington, D.C.); Polish Association for the Study of English (PASE): 2010 (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan – Kalisz Campus), 2011 (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun); “Poisoned Cornucopia” Conference (University of Opole) 2012; Polish Association for American Studies (PAAS) 2013 (University of Wroclaw); Fantastic Literature Conference (University of Lodz):  2012, 2014, 2016; “Media in America” (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin) 2017; Telos Conference: 2012 (L’Aquila, Italy), 2017 (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia); “Shapes of Futures” (University of Bielsko-Biala) 2019; Polish Association for Canadian Studies (PACS) Congress: 2013 (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan), 2019 (University of Lodz).

Some other recent academic and association conferences (attendance only) include the APSA Annual Meeting 2009 (Toronto); Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP) 2012 (Humber College – Lakeshore Campus, Toronto); Freedom Press Canada Symposium: Spring 2013 (Toronto), Spring 2014 (Toronto); Canadian Constitution Foundation (Toronto Conference): 2008, 2009, 2017; the Canadian Writers’ Summit (CCWWP and other writers’ and publishers’ associations) (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto): 2016, 2018; Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto) 2018; Civitas Canada: 2009 (Toronto), 2014 (Toronto), 2019 (Toronto); and the George Jonas Freedom Awards 2019 (Toronto). ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.

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