My father and I are in the midst of planning a trip to the “old country” — Croatia — this fall. One of the things I learned this week is that to have any success at making family connections once there, we’ll have to determine which “line” of Rukavinas we hale from. Apparently, like Arsenaults on PEI, there are so many Rukavina families in our home place that they have taken on nicknames over the years.
Jonathan Safron Foer’s “Everything is Illuminated” might be good preparatory reading. I loved the excerpt or condensed version that I read in the New Yorker (which unfortunately means I still remember it too vividly to have patience for the book). I suppose that if Croatia is war-torn and full of people desperate to emmigrate to Canada, there may be a tendency for Rukavinas to exaggerate their relatedness to you. Probably good you’re researching ahead and not counting on leaving it to the first taxi driver who approaches you at Dubrovink International (whose name I predict will be Rukavina).
Considering the surname Rukavina you should go to Gospić the main town of the Region Lika, from where all Rukavionas are originated. There are many branches of this surname, and many of them emigrated to US and Canada, but many of them are still living in Gospić. The best for you would be to go straight to the local-government office, or to parish house, where they will give you any information, but still you should know the basic data (Name of your grandfather, place of birth, date of birth etc.) I myself
was born Rukavina, and I have read a lot about this family,
the first traces are even from 16 century, when Grgur Vladimirović came home from Turkish captivity, and was wearing shirt with long broad sleeves, and therefore was
named Rukavina (e.g.in Croatian language sleeve is called
rukav, and a sleeve of great size is called rukavina)
All the best to you and your father,