Boyko, Metro


by Peter Boyko

My mother, Polly Woytowich, was born in Austria in 1893. She married Metro Boyko when she was about eighteen years old. They lived on a farm and had two boys, Peter and William. My father was killed in the first World War. Later my mother married Nick Shankowski. From this marriage two children were born, Walter and Harry.

My stepfather learned about homestead land from posters and pictures which advertised free land and a good life in Canada. He came to Canada in 1925 and bought land from Nick Slwyka. In 1929 my mother came to Canada with my brother Bill and I, and my two half-brothers, Walter and Harry.

We came by ship to Quebec, which took nine days from London. There was much entertainment on the ship. From Quebec we came by train to Chipman, Alberta, to relatives of my stepfather, who had sponsored our family. We then came by truck to the Elk Point farm.

Our house was a log building about 14 x 26 feet, plastered on the outside, and plastered and whitewashed on the in-side. Our home was heated by a wood heater. We had lamps and candles for light. Mother brought some pictures from Austria to brighten up our home.

Brother Bill and I went to school in the Old Country for about five years. After coming to Canada, we walked three miles to King George two-roomed school in the winter months. The school was built of lumber, with grades one to six in one room and grades seven to eleven in the other room. There was a very large attendance in each room. When I first went, there were no desks. We had to sit on an apple box for a seat at the back desk. Since I could go to school only in the winter, I took special lessons from William Trefiak, who had a swimming pool down by the Saskatchewan River, south of Elk Point.

Our doctors were Drs. Miller and Ross. Dr. Ross delivered my twin half-sisters, Mary and Annie, at our home. The last baby, Peter, was born in the Elk Point Hospital. Dr. Ross pulled teeth for us when it was necessary.

We went to church at Northern Valley. Dances were held in the school house. In 1939 we went to Edmonton to see King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. We got the return trip for $3.00. We had picnics and the boys played baseball. The farmers' boys played violins for dances.

We drove to Myrnam to have our wheat ground into flour. The roads were very poor then. We bought our groceries in Elk Point most of the time. In spring and fall we couldn't cross on the ferry. People would cross on the cable. We farmed more land each year as we cleared off the bush. The main crops were wheat, oats and barley. We hauled our grain and hogs to Elk Point, which was about seven miles. For farming we used horses at first and later iron wheeled tractors.

We never travelled back to the Ukraine and we did not write very often. We got our mail at Elk Point after the Peat Post Office closed.

T, Peter, married Sophie Pietrowsky from Lake Eliza. We bought our first land from Bill Crossen, the east half of Sec. 21-T56-R7-W4. We had three children - Lucille, Maryann and Orest.

During the Second World War our good neighbor, Ernie Appleton, cooked at the Officers' Mess in Edmonton and I was invited by him to a very good supper there.

During the depression, times were hard but there were many good points about those times. People got together to have picnics or dances. Everyone helped supply the lunch and the small amount of necessary cash.

I am still farming and enjoying the good life, but times are progressing so fast that I find it hard to keep up.