When Ruslan Yakoviychuk moved to Canada in 2005, it was a homecoming of sorts.
During his working years, Ruslan’s great-grandfather left Ukraine for greener pastures in Canada, eventually returning to Ukraine twenty years later with enough money to buy land and build a school.
His prosperity was short lived when the Soviet Union took everything from Ruslan’s family and sent many of his relatives to work camps. While the money and their property may have been gone, the stories of Canada lingered on and moving to Canada became a dream for Ruslan.
That dream took a step closer to reality in 1992, when Ruslan met Canada’s then-Governor General, Ray Hnatyshyn, during a state visit. The Governor General, whose family happened to be from the same region as, inspired him to pursue his dream.
Seven years later, Ruslan found himself working as a teacher in Ukraine but struggled with the instability and corruption as it tried to re-establish itself as an independent country. Ruslan applied to leave his country, eventually moving to Portugal.
It was in Portugal that Ruslan learned another of the family trades – carpentry–and met his wife. As it turned out, his wife had family in Kingston. As the European economy started to take a turn for the worse in 2005, Ruslan got a Canadian work visa and the couple left Portugal for Canada with just $500 in their pocket. It was not long before they settled on Kingston as their new home.
“I love the way Kingston is set up with the lakes and the people,” he said. “You fall in love the first time you see it.”
He worked as a carpenter until he was able to incorporate his own company, RY Contractor in 2009. He has since founded a second company, Legacy Fine Homes.
“One of my first big jobs was to build a clinic downtown for a local doctor, who happened to be my neighbour,” he says. “He wanted to open his own clinic but was worried about his student debt. I barely spoke any English at that time, but I quoted for half the amount and half the time of another contractor.”
He remembers getting strange looks and a few laughs, especially when he said he had been in business for just three months. Only six weeks later, that changed.
“I finished the job, all four thousand square feet, two weeks early with just the doctor helping me,” Ruslan said with a grin. “After that, I had so much work I couldn’t keep up. Never judge a book by its cover.”
Ruslan shifted gears and slowed down his business in the years since, to ensure he has the time and flexibility to both manage his business and pursue his passions.
In addition to several multimillion-dollar home construction projects throughout the years, Ruslan is involved in the community through groups like the Kingston Homebuilders’ Association and the Portuguese Cultural Centre of Kingston. Even during the 2019 federal election, when he ran for political office, Ruslan was busy building several homes including his family’s dream home.
Besides his work, political ambitions, and community efforts, Ruslan is raising two school-aged daughters, speaks seven languages, and plays music in his spare time. He plans on releasing his second album, this one in Portuguese, in the coming years. Hard work is central to Ruslan’s life philosophy.
“You have to be honest, positive, do a quality job, and never give up,” he says.