SETTLEMENT OF THE WEST

 
YOUNG GIRL
This is an interview with Mr. Joe Krychuck about the early settlement of Western Canada. The date is June 10, 1958 and this is a project for Mrs. Johnson's class.
 
Mr. Krychuck. You were born were going to talk about coming to Canada with your family, and your life as a real pioneer.

JOE
You can call me Joe. And I wasn't exactly a pioneer - my parents were though. They were as brave as they come. Left their homes and travelled half way around the world cartin' their possessions, and of course my three sisters and me.
Arrived in Quebec in 1904 with a boatload of other immigrants, we did - Customs officers all spoke English and French and we spoke Ukrainian. Anyway, they stamped our papers and let us loose on Canada. Our destination was a place called Lloydminster, Saskatchewan we weren't too sure exactly where that was from Quebec, but we headed west. Seemed like the right way to go 'cause everyone else was headed that way.

YOUNG GIRL
And what about the winters - what were they like on the prairies in those days Mr. Krychuck?

JOE
Call me Joe, young lady. Everyone calls me Joe.

YOUNG GIRL
Sorry sir.

JOE
Well let me tell you, you have not experienced cold until you have spent a Saskatchewan winter in a sod house. I shiver to think of it, even after all these years. We huddled together, each trying to keep as much of the blanket over us as possible. Me and the youngest - I was wedged between my sisters, bless their chubby souls, so I was a little warmer than the others. In the morning though, we were all equal. The blanket would crack when we moved - it was frozen, you see.

YOUNG GIRL
How many winters did you go through like that?

JOE
Oh, not that many. They were only really hard for the first few years, and then we didn't complain. This country was a blessing. My parents said it was the land of milk and honey and all we needed were beehives to reap the benefits.
But seriously, we could never of had such a farm in the old country. We build ourselves a handsome farm house and a big barn. I close my eyes and I can still see acres and acres of rolling wheat dancin' in the wind. Least ways, that's how I remember it.

YOUNG GIRL
And what about your family - were they all alone out there. I mean, didn't you have any neighbours?

JOE
Well, we weren't crowded, let's put it that way, but we certainly weren't the only settlers. There were thousands of families came to the west and stayed.
Our neighbours represented almost every country in Europe, and then some. Why, I recall the Bartov family from some place near St. Petersburg in Russia, the Pyras from Poland - I had a crush on their daughter, Yolanda, and, the Larsens from Sweden.
We all spoke different languages and many couldn't read or write, but we managed to communicate and work together. Your generation might learn a thing or two from that.

YOUNG GIRL
Any what about the Indians and Metis, Mr. Krychuck.

JOE
Joe, you can call me Joe.

YOUNG GIRL
I'm sorry. Mrs. Johnson says they weren't too happy about giving up their land. Did you get along with them too?

JOE
Well, I sure had no problem. One of my best friends was Metis - we got along just fine. But I had very little to do with his parents and it wasn't until I was much older that he told me why they weren't overly friendly to us settlers - told me how his people struggled to get title to the land - how they even went to war with the government to get noticed.
I think I understand what it must have been like to see people settling on land that you feel is yours, and I remember telling him that immigrants and Metis actually have a lot in common - we both care for and love the land so much. I don't think he ever heard me though.
Well, you got what you need for your class project?

YOUNG GIRL
Yes, I think so.
Thank you very much mist... - thank you very much Joe.

JOE
Now that wasn't so hard, was it?