Entertainment

Vancouver perogy king ‘Hunky’ Bill Konyk dead at 88



Bill Konyk, better known as Hunky Bill, died Tuesday night. He was 88.


Jason Payne / PNG

Bill Konyk, better known to Vancouverites as Hunky Bill, has died at the age of 88, according to a spokesperson for the Pacific National Exhibition, where Konyk served up his Ukrainian-style perogies for 52 years.

The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Konyk was born and raised in Winnipeg but left for Chicago as a young man to pursue a career as radio sports reporter. He met his wife Kay in Chicago and they had three sons — Billy, Clayton and Mark.

The radio game eventually took the family back to Manitoba and then to Vancouver where he settled and became a local culinary legend when he started selling his perogies, kielbasa sausage and cabbage rolls — Winnipeg Uke Soul Food, as he used to call it — at The Fair in 1967.

“Next thing I know, I’m making some serious coin,” he told the Vancouver Sun in 2011.

PNE spokeswoman Laura Ballance said in a statement that Konyk died peacefully Tuesday night, surrounded by family.

“Hunky Bill was a beloved member of the extended PNE family for 52 years, beginning, as the legend has it, when the then Vancouver based radio executive bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the PNE to sell his homemade Ukrainian style perogies,” said Ballance.

“The story goes that Bill showed up at the PNE administration office and spent an hour and a half convincing the then head of the PNE booth sales department to give him a chance. Konyk got his booth, won his $10 and began a 52-year journey during which time Hunky Bill has become one of the most iconic pitchmen and restaurateurs in Canadian history.”

Ballance said Konyk’s family will continue to sell Hunky Bill’s food at the PNE, which begins Saturday.


Bill Konyk, also-known-as Hunky Bill, was the king of the perogy at the PNE.

Jason Payne /

PNG

Konyk with his official 'Hunky Bill' electric fly swatter, on sale at his booth in 2000.


Konyk with his official ‘Hunky Bill’ electric fly swatter, on sale at his booth in 2000.

Peter Battistoni /

PNG

Konyk shows off the goods in 2007.


Konyk shows off the goods in 2007.

PNG

Hunky Bill's Ukrainian combo meal in 2004.


Hunky Bill’s Ukrainian combo meal in 2004.

Ian Smith /

PNG

Konyk in the kitchen in 1972.


Konyk in the kitchen in 1972.

PNG

Konyk manning his booth in 1971.


Konyk manning his booth in 1971.

PNG

Hunky Bill's in 1970.


Hunky Bill’s in 1970.

PNG

Konyk at Hunky Bill's in 1968.


Konyk at Hunky Bill’s in 1968.

PNG

The lineups began early for Hunky Bill's famous pierogi, which Bill Konyk has served every day at the fair for the past 50 years.


The lineups began early for Hunky Bill’s famous perogy, which Bill Konyk has served every day at the fair for the past 52 years.

Jason Payne /

PNG

With files from Matt Robinson, Shelley Fralic

Show More