Stepa, Paul

PAUL M. STEPA1reftext77_190.gif

By Lillian L. (Stepa) Demchuk

Paul M. Stepa, my father, was born in Lamont, Alberta, the third child of Mike and Annie Stepa, who were farming in the Delph area.

After spending his growing years in the above community, Paul attended barbering school in Edmonton from the fall of 1935 until the spring of 1936. Upon completion of this course he started work in Waskatenau.

However, Dad was looking for a place to make a living and establish his own business. Elk Point was recommended to him by Jim Fraser, who at that time was fieldman for the Cockshutt Co. Dad recalls Jim saying, "Elk Point has lots of nice people". About six weeks later Paul was on the train to have a look at this place. He remembers meeting and conversing with Joe Mah during the trip. Mr. Mah owned and operated a cafe in the community and was able to impart some information about the area.

On September 21, 1936, Dad opened a Poolroom and Barber Shop, where a haircut was twenty-five cents, and a shave fifteen cents. Anyone interested in pool was able to play a game for ten cents or three games for twenty-five cents.


Lena and Paul's wedding picture, 1943.

During this time Paul stayed in the Alberta Hotel. From there he went to the home of Helen and Mike Nikiforuk, where he boarded for approximately five years.

In 1937 Dad built a larger poolroom and obtained a snooker table.

Entertainment during these years consisted of pool, of course, and dancing at least twice a week. Barn dances were especially popular.

In 1938 Dad got his first car, a 1928 Ford coupe, purchased from Ed Caskey. Soon after he traded this vehicle on a 1936 Chev coupe. This certainly was a highlight in his life and enabled him and his friends to make many trips to Heinsburg, which was a beehive of activity in those days; almost twice the size of Elk Point.

In 1943 Paul married the former Madeline Bykowsky of Derwent. Two daughters and one son were born to this couple, all of them raised and schooled in Elk Point.

The Second World War found Dad selling war bonds, because he was told he was needed more in this capacity than in the army. He was.extremely successful at this, selling the second highest number of bonds in the province and receiving the Eighth Victory Loan Certificate for this endeavor.

Selling came easy to Dad. He had a few profitable sidelines in his place of business. For example, along with a haircut and a game of pool, a man could purchase any number of confectionary goods, a made-to-measure suit, a diamond ring, or life insurance.

Despite busy schedules, there was always time for community work. Paul attended his first Chamber of Commerce meeting some time in 1937 in Bill Andrishak's store, and has been a member to this date. Also interested in education, he has been on the school board for the County of St. Paul since 1961.

In 1947 Dad and Dr. Ross were appointed by the Chamber of Commerce to explore the possibility of a local gas company. With Dr. Ross heading the committee as president and Dad as acting secretary, the two men traveled the country-side, promoting the plan and selling shares. The scheme was accepted by the population and, in 1948, the first gas well was developed on Peter Andrishak's farm. Shareholders were the first citizens to enjoy the benefits of natural gas and, on November 11, 1948, gas was installed in the Elk Point Poolroom.

Dad has managed throughout the years to belong to a varied number of organizations such as the Lions, Elks, and the Masonic Lodge. Along with other Elk members, he was responsible for the initial planning that resulted in the Elks Hall.

It was not all work and no play, however, as Dad enjoyed several hobbies such as hunting, curling, and carpentry. Antique collecting has been of interest in the past few years and Dad is a familiar figure at auction sales.

In January, 1956, after due consideration, Paul opened an office for general insurance in a small building where Macleods Store is located today. Shortly after, he built an office next to Tredger's Drug Store. In 1967 another move was made, this time to a larger office next to the Elk Point Cafe.

This business proved a worthwhile venture, and, in January, 1976, along with his son-inlaw, Larry Demchuk, formed Elk Point Insurance and Realty Ltd.

Dad has not changed his outlook during the years and remains an active and interested member of this community.


Mr. and Mrs. Paul Stepa and son Victor 1956



LEFT TO RIGHT: Lucille and Cam MacKenzie, Lillian and Larry Demchuk