I was born December 10, 1901, in the village of Kolianky, Horodenka District, Ivano-Frankivsk Province. My maiden name was Pavlina Osadchuk. My parents were peasants. They had eight children, only three of whom survived.

I was still small when our family went to Canada. My father decided to emigrate because he couldn't tolerate the social injustice that prevailed in the village. For example, the feudal landowner, in collusion with the mayor of the village, wanted to misappropriate the people's common pastureland and plant trees on it for his own use. The peasants opposed this illegal move. My father led the fight of the peasants. The landowner and the mayor bribed some hoodlums who attacked my father and severely beat him up.

We came to my uncle's place in Foley, Manitoba, which is between Winnipeg Beach and Komarno. My father acquired a homestead in Komarno. It was mainly swampland covered with bush. We struggled on this farm until the end of World War I. My mother and the children worked at clearing the land of trees and stones. My father, like other homesteaders, looked for work everywhere - he worked in a stone quarry in Stonewall, on the railroad, and he went out harvesting.

There were still no roads in those days, so it was necessary to go on foot through the swamps and bush in order to get to the store in Teulon, a distance of some twelve miles, and then to carry a ninety-eight pound sack of flour on the way back. A few people would get together and all go to the store at the same time.

After my father had earned some money, he bought a pair of oxen and began ploughing the cleared land. He worked very hard but it was impossible to make a living on that farm.

When I was old enough, I started going to school which was two and a half miles from our place. The children had to go to school on foot, in the rain and in the cold. Once I froze my feet and would have suffered severe harm if it hadn't been for some neighbours who took me in the house and put snow on my feet. Otherwise, I would have lost my toes. My father carried me home on his back. I had three years of schooling in all. Our teacher John Demchuk, taught us a half hour a week to read and write in Ukrainian.

My father couldn't find work of any kind when World War I broke out and was derisively called "Kaiser" and threatened with arrest just because he wore a large moustache. My mother and my older sister had to go to work. I went out herding cattle all summer for an English farmer in Teulon. I was paid fifty cents a day for this work. I had to get up early and bring in the wood for the stove and the water. After breakfast, I drove some four hundred head of cattle out to pasture. I wasn't quite thirteen at the time. In 1915, I worked all summer as a water carrier at the Balmoral brick works.

interview by Peter Krawchuk


A typical Ukrainian pioneer house
Manitoba, Canada

National Archives of Canada