In the tapestry of life, there are those rare individuals who stand as beacons, illuminating the path for others through their unwavering dedication to the community. Markar Sharabkhanian was one such extraordinary soul, a luminary whose brilliance shone brightly in every facet of his life. He was a dedicated principal, a community leader, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and a long-time friend and contributor to our publication.
Born into the loving embrace of Onnik and Shake Sharabkhanian, Markar’s story began in the town of Kalamata, Greece. He was the second of three children in the Sharabkhanian family. Markar’s insatiable thirst for knowledge was evident from a young age, and his pursuit of education took him to the enchanting city of Venice.
Upon completing his studies at the esteemed Moorat-Raphael College, Markar returned to Athens, where he assumed a role as a teacher of Armenian studies. However, fate had a different plan, leading him to Toronto in 1968, where he accepted a librarian position at the University of Toronto. It was in this young and burgeoning Armenian community that Markar’s dedication to the Armenian culture would truly flourish.
Markar was a driving force in the Armenian community of Toronto, and his commitment to the Armenian people was unwavering. He was a talented writer and speaker, advocating tirelessly for the well-being, justice, and service of Armenians worldwide. In the early days of the Armenian Community Centre, he played an instrumental role in founding and editing Artsakank—the first Armenian journal-magazine of its kind in Toronto.
In 1975, Markar embarked on another significant chapter in his life when he married his beloved Elise Hasserjian, and together, they were blessed with two children, Hovig and Vazrig. Four years later, in 1979, he played a pivotal role in establishing the ARS Armenian Private School of Toronto, where he served as the institution’s founding principal. His vision laid the foundation for the remarkable educational institutions that stand today, including Roubina Nursery, Babayan Kindergarten, Kololian Elementary, and Lapoyan Secondary schools.
What makes Markar Sharabkhanian’s story even more compelling is the backdrop against which his life unfolded. He was born into one of the most tumultuous periods in Armenian history, the first generation of an exiled people. The weight of exile and the loss of his homeland and roots were etched onto his soul, making him intimately familiar with the profound suffering and anguish of his people.
Throughout his life, the Armenian language remained his constant companion. He nurtured young minds with a fatherly warmth, instilling in them a deep love for the Armenian language, history, culture, and literature.
In his twilight years, Markar found solace and connection in the village of Ushi, Armenia, and to the surprise of many, these years were marked by a vitality and activity just as great as his years as principal. In Ushi, he not only injected new life into the village but also found new life within its welcoming embrace. The village adored him, and to the children, he was “Baron Markar,” as if he had been their own school principal. The entire village treated him with deep respect and admiration. If every village in Armenia could have been blessed with someone like Baron Markar, there is no doubt that the nation would flourish even more brightly.
Markar Sharabkhanian’s legacy is one of integrity and foresight. He turned his beliefs into actions, leaving an indelible mark on national, educational, cultural, and political affairs wherever he was. As we reflect on his life’s work, we are inspired by his ability to instill pride in Armenian identity, a love for language and literature, and the belief that future generations would carry forward the legacy of Armenia with honour.
To his beloved wife and our dear friend Elise, his cherished sons Hovig and Vazrig and their spouses, and his adored grandchildren Nayira, Tvin, Tatev, Ary, and Sevan, we extend our deepest condolences and gratitude for sharing Markar with the world. The void left by his departure will be felt deeply, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of all those he touched.
Though Baron Markar may have left this world, his spirit endures as a guiding light. May his memory be a blessing and an enduring source of inspiration for generations to come. ֍