The Selyan sisters Nvart, Zvart and Victoria photographed before 1915, in Bardizag or Konya.

Mona Selyan collection (part 1) - 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.

There’s an arrow sign drawn on the photo to indicate him; he’s the one wearing a vest, standing in the back row, second from the right, right under the window on the right.

A detail of the photo displayed above; Yezegel Yezeguellian can be seen standing in the very back row, second from the right.

Sitting from left to right are: Baydzar Boyagian (née Lutfian), her daughter Noemie, and Baydzar’s husband Gosdan Boyagian. Standing from left to right are: Yevnige, Marie (Sona’s maternal grandmother), Bedros, Gadarine, and Sophie Boyagians. Noemie, Yevnige, Marie, Gadarine and Sophie are 5 sisters and the daughters of Baydzar and Gosdan. Bedros is also their sibling, he is Gosdan’s son from a first marriage.

1. The man on the right is Yezegel Yezeguellian, the child standing in the middle is Yezegel’s sister’s son, and the man on the left is Daniel Bezirjian.

2. 1910; from left to right are: Noemie Boyagian is standing with a basket in her hands, her mother Baydzar Boyagian (née Lutfian) is sitting next to her, the woman sitting next to Baydzar is probably her sister Anitsa, standing next to Anitsa is most probably her son Astig who is holding a big hula hoop with one hand.

The five Boyagian sisters, standing from left to right are: Gadarine, Marie, Yevnige, Sophie, and Noemie.

1. Istanbul?, 1920. The man standing on the right is Haroutyoun Yezeguellian, he is Yezegel Yezeguellian’s brother, Azad Selyan’s paternal uncle, standing on the left is Haroutyoun’s wife Zabel Yezeguellian, and standing in front of Haroutyoun is his son Garbis Yezeguellian (Garbis is from a first marriage).

2. Istanbul, 1922; standing from left to right are: the sisters Yevnige and Noemie Boyagians, sitting in the middle is their mother Baydzar Boyagian (née Lutfian), the small child on the left is Gadarine’s (Yevnige and Noemie’s other sister) son Haroutyoun who died at a young age.

Standing from left to right are: Nvart, Zvart and Victoria; they are Mona Selyan's father, Arthur Selyan's aunts. The Selyans were originally from Bardizag, but the photo could also have been taken in Konya, as the sisters married and went to that city.

1. 1922; Gadarine Boyagian’s husband (name unknown), with their two children, the child on the right in Haroutyoun (who died at a young age).

2. 1921; standing in the back row from left to right are: sisters Yevnige and Noemie. Sitting from left to right are: Baydzar Boyagian (née Lutfian) and her son-in-law, her daughter Gadarine’s husband, on Baydzar’s lap is Haroutyoun (Gadarine’s son), her grandson.

3. 1921, Gadarine Boyagian’s husband (name unknown), with their son Haroutyoun on his lap.

Both photographs depict (most probably) Gadarine Boyagian’s son Haroutyoun; the first photo is from 1923 while the second one is from 1921.

Standing is Yevnige Boyagian, sitting on the right in the second row is Baydzar Boyagian (née Lutfian), sitting in the front row from left to right are: Marie and Noemie Boyagians.

A group photo of the doctors and nurses at the Sourp Prgich national hospital in Istanbul; standing first from right is Marie Boyagian (Azad Selyan’s mother), third is Doctor Zarian/Zaroubian?, sixth is Malkhasian; standing in the second row, second from the left is Payladzou Shmavonian (who is originally from Bardizag).

1. Bursa (Istanbul?), 1918. Sitting in the middle is Sophie Boyagian, her sister Marie is sitting on the bench on the right.

2. Bursa (Istanbul?), 1912. Sophie and Marie Boyagians.

Marie Boyagian is standing third from the left in the back row.

Marie Boyagian photographed wearing her nurse's uniform. She and her sister Sophie were both nurses at the Armenian hospital Sourp Prgich in Istanbul. 

The photo was taken by Yervant Selyan.

Standing from left to right in the fourth row are: Sirvart Kubikian Boghossian, Zvart Selyan Bodurian, Nvart Selyan Kubikian, unknown, unknown, unknown, Siranoush Kubikian, Kurkjian, unknown.

Sitting from left to right in the third row are: Dalita Couian Selyan, Onnig Kubikian, unknown, Sarkis Kubikian, Kurkjian, Minas Selyan.

Standing from left to right in the second row are: Hripsime (Alice) Kubikian (later Basmadjian), Noubar Kubikian, unknown, Hasmig Kubikian (later Shaljian), Garo Kurkjian, Takouhi Kubikian (later Amiraian).

Sitting from left to right in the first row are: Hagopos Kubikian, Garabed Bodurian, unknown, unknown, Hazaros (Gazaros?) Kubikian.

A set of postcards sent from Bardizag to the US/Canada

1. Postcard sent from Bardizag, dated: June 11/30, 1913

2. Postcard sent from Bardizag, dated: May 18/31, 1913, addressed to the author's maternal uncle (either Haroutune, Mgrditch or Yervant Selyan), who was born in Bardizag but had immigrated to the States.

3. Postcard sent from Bardizag and Izmir, dated: June 24/7, 1910. The author writes to his sons saying that he has left Bardizag and has arrived to Izmir.

1. Postcard sent from Izmit, date: January (?) 19/1, 1906, addressed to the author's brother. The writing says: "Dear brother, today it's your Christmas, but you'll probably receive this postcard during our Christmas, so please accept our warm wishes from now." The photo on the postcard shows the train station of Izmit.

2. Another postcard most probably sent from Bardizag, it depicts Mother Armenia on ruins.

1. Postcard sent from Bardizag, date: April 19, 1912, addressed to the author's (Vahram?) maternal uncle M. (Mgrditch) Selyan who was born in Bardizag. The postcard is sent to Massachusetts, USA.

2. Postcard sent from Izmit, date: October 4/17, 1908, the author addresses the person to whom he sent the postcard as "dear brother". It's sent to Mgrditch Selyan in Boston, USA. The title on the postcard reads "Liberty, Equality, Justice, Brotherhood" in Armenian, Ottoman Turkish and French. The postcard was printed at the K. Papazian printing, located on Tchichek-Bazaar. The author writes about his concern regarding the enemies clouding the new Turkey which was at its height of liberty, these internal enemies have started disrupting Turkey's clear political horizon... Taking the date into consideration, this postcard was probably the first one sent after the adoption of the constitution. 

3. Postcard sent from Bardizag, date: September 10, 1912. Sent to Mr. M. (Mgrditch) Selyan in Massachusetts, USA.

1. Postcard sent from Bardizag (?), date: March 11/24, 1915, addressed to the children of the author.

2. Postcard sent from Bardizag, date: May 10/23, 1915, addressed to Mgrditch (Selyan).

3. Postcard sent from Bardizag, date: May 4/17, 1915. The author addresses his sons (children) saying that he writes to inform them of some bad news - their aunt Srpouhi has died the day before and the funeral was today. She had long suffered from a weak heart...

Greece, 1935, at the Zavarian Armenian kindergarten. The little girl fourth from the left in the first row is Azadouhi Selyan (born Yezeguellian).

A family picnic, sitting fifth from the left in the first row, holding a white cup in her left hand is Victoria Selyan, Mona Selyan’s paternal great-aunt.