Sribney, John


by John Sribney

I was born October 12, 1893, in the village of Oleksenchi, County Borshchiw, Province of Ternopil, Country of Ukraine. I attended school from the ages of seven to fifteen. My father's name was Hnat, a farmer, and my mother's name was Warwara (nee Ga las), a housewife. There were six children - Justin, Pearl, Michael, Margaret, Bill and myself.

There was very little land to be shared. The population ratio was four people per hectare (3.5 acres per hectare). The country was over-populated and many people were leaving for Canada, including my older brother, Justin, who left in 1908.1 decided to go too.

I left Ukraine in 1912 at the age of eighteen, by train to Antwerp, Belguim, where I waited three days while the ship was being cleaned. A load of cattle had been brought in from Canada in this ship. The trip across the Atlantic took fifteen days. I docked in St. John, New Brunswick, then travelled by train to Suilbury. All this fare cost $40.00, and it was com pulsory to have a minimum of $25.00 in cash or one would be sent back.

I worked at various jobs -- railroads and lumber camps till 1915, when I went on to Viceroy, Saskatchewan, neai Weyburn, to help with the harvest. During the winter, I stayed with an uncle, Philip Yakimeshen, on the farm nea Canora, Saskatchewan. This went on for two years. Then decided to move on to British Columbia, near Prince George where I worked in lumber camps until 1922.

I settled on a farm ten miles south of Elk Point. I had learned about this area from my brother, Justin, and other relatives. I bought 160 acres from Frank Molineux for $800.00. This was Frank's homestead -- S.W. 22-55-6-W4 There were seventeen acres broken.

In 1923, on February 6, I married Tekla Zazulak, fron Derwent. We lived in the sod-roofed log house which I had built earlier. For a wedding present from her parents, my wife received four cows, four heifers, two horses, a crean separator and $100.00. We received $50.00 in cash donations at the wedding.

My wife's parents migrated to Canada in 1907. They came to Mundare and bought a homestead south of Derwent.

In the summer of 1923, with the help of my wife, we built a log house with a shingled roof.

Our first crop was eight acres of wheat, five acres of oat and four of barley. The bundles were hauled in and stacked and then threshed by a neighbor, Charlie McNamara.

The three oldest children -- Steve, Pearl and Mike -- wer born here. As time went on I bought a half section of land three miles east. I sold the place I lived on and moved to the half section, where I could farm more land close by. This was N.E. 26-55-6-W4, and was Hudson Bay Co. land.

Here we lived and farmed. This land still belongs in tht family. Four more children were born here -- Tillie, Walter. John and Emil.

Steve is presently farming the home place, and lives across the road. Pearl lives on a farm near Elk Point. Mike had a PhD. in biochemistry and is a professor at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario. Tillie works at the Treasury Branch and lives in Vermilion. Walter is sales manager for Cargill Grain Co. and lives in Vegreville. John had three years of geology at the University of Alberta and is now manager of Qualico Construction. Emil is a dental surgeon in Calgary.

For the first year or so of farming, I had help from my brother and we shared machinery. All work was done with horses. Crops were stooked, then hauled into stacks and threshed.

Later, neighbours worked together to form crews and thresh by hauling stooks to the threshing machine. Crews consisted of at least twelve men -- eight with hayracks, two hauling grain, one at the granary and one running the machine. Cooking for threshers was a big job -- twelve men plus the family. Threshers were up at 4 a.m., horses were fed, breakfast was at 5:30 to 6, and threshing began at 7. Dinner was from 11:30 to 12:30, lunch at 4 pm., and we threshed until dark. Supper came after that.

As time went on, fields were becoming infested with wild oats. In 1942 I decided to invest in a machine of my own. I was the first one in the community to have a Red River Special threshing machine with a Carter disc cleaner. I threshed my own crop as well as the neighbors.

Most of the trading was done in Vermilion, until the railroad track was built to Elk Point in 1927. It took two days to travel to Vermilion by team. We hauled grain there and brought ground flour back. Cattle were herded to town for sale.

Going to Elk Point, it was not unusual to wait in a line-up for three hours to cross the river by ferry.

In 1928, I sold four 1100-pound steers for $25.00 each. I sold one hog and bought a box of apples for the children.

Municipal taxes were paid by working on and building roads with fresnos drawn by horses.

My wife and I are now retired and live in Edmonton.