Much owed here to Ukrainians

Early in the past century while waves of Ukrainians were populating the Prairies, being given quarter sections (160 acres) of farmland to homestead, others were moving to Fort Frances and helping maintain railroads and the paper mill. Wherever labour was needed in quantity, the “Ukes” were welcomed and their efforts stand today as proof of their ambition and trustworthy steadiness. For them, Canada was the place to be! And today, having proved their reliability, they are accepted as citizens worthy of being recognized as basic to our economy. When British Columbia produced their western history recently, our own Ukrainians hereabouts could point to their local achievement that built this area also. Having blended so well into our communities, they now can point to their scores of families being depended on to further our progress and fill in wherever needed, whether in commerce, industry, education, music, or civic responsibilities, such as local municipal management. Many of my closest friends over my lifetime had a “chuk” or merely “uk” as a suffix for their names, although a minority who mingled among the local Polish used the popular Pole name ending “ski”—and it’s not easy for others to distinguish between the two races. When I tackled this nearly impossible task of naming all our local Ukrainians, inspired by CBC’s Prairie history, I knew there would be reminders coming for months but here goes for openers (all are still represented here and show little inclination to leave): Blasky, Plasky, Naturkatz, Demaniw, Neurinski, Grynol, Andrusco, Ossachuk, Kiniski, Sus, Makarchuk, Van Jura, Kawulia, Bagacki, Wihnan, Bogacki, Badiuk, Pidlubny, Gushulak, Onichuk (our recent mayor), Wepruk, Werenko, Krawchuk, Kowalchuk, Basaraba, Chernaske, Fichuk, Hanzuk, Fedoruk, Solaryk, Madill, Mutz, Mylenchuk, Malinoski, Mihichuk, Markoski, and Ladanchuk. Whew! I came off old Third Street East near the CN subway, where neighbours included the Fichuks, Kowaluks, Hanzuks, Wihnans, and Kiniskis, as well as such Italians as the Corans and Rizzos (my dad came from Italy as a boy and shared the same lack of a Canadian education as most of our local immigrants). Today we are meeting newcomers working at Rainycrest from Portugal, for instance, who bring perfect English from overseas schools. My Ukrainian friends have managed to multiply in numbers. For example, there are now six Krawchuks listed in the phone book. Close friends in my youth included Bill Fichuk and Ed Chernaske—both members of large families. Find a load of Ukrainian “perogies” for supper! Thank me for this tip later.
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The next Rainycrest dance is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 28 with Bob Wepruk back from south.
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With our aging population, it’s said the ailment “Alzheimer,” which claims more and more elderly citizens, is among Canada’s most urgent problems. Many such patients now reside at Rainycrest here.
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Forget what you may hear about the “Meals on Wheels” service beginning to slip away. Not with faithful Gabriella Hanzuk in control of deliveries. “Gabby” assures me this very welcome community project is very much here to stay! Even on the coldest days lately, the volunteers kept arriving and, as one grateful recipient, I can report the meals keep on improving.
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Among the latest newcomers to Emo is an easterner, Meta Henderson, who has been quick to make friends.
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I was shocked to witness my Devlin chum, James Andrews, seated in a wheelchair following a recent stroke and being helped into the handi-van by driver Diane Cousineau while leaving the hospital this past week. His wife, Jan, reports “Jim” making good progress, though. Formerly from Oklahoma, he authored a fascinating book, “Mountain Pilots,” before leaving his former home. It concerns the search there for uranium with visiting fliers investigating his home mountains.
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Glen Canfield, the well-known local pilot, popped into McDonald’s one morning and remembered me as a high school chum and former neighbour. The Canfield family resided on Mowat Avenue behind the now defunct Prince Albert Hotel and we had ball games in their yard. Glen flew for local bush pilots Rusty Meyers or Vern Jones years ago.
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A new library is, by far, the least appealing project here yet suggested! There have been very few noticeable complaints about the present library.
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A rather startling statement in the papermill organ, “Screenings,” notified smokers who are caught three times sucking on that deadly weed that they lose their jobs! It’s not generally known whether the mill officials are concerned over their workers’ health or for taking too many smoking breaks! Smoking has become extremely unpopular but also very costly. My old dad used to grow tobacco in his backyard garden to hang up in a shed to dry for his pipe. And the popular Ray S. Holmes, for many years, was a leading tobacco vendor. My dad went to him for his “Old Glory” pipe tobacco at a quarter per plug. Now, have you heard cigarettes are priced at $10 per pack. They may have helped win the Second World War when almost everyone in uniform smoked!

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