Hnybida, Petro


by Dmytra Hnybida

My father, Petro Hnybida, was born February 22, 1888, to a peasant family in the village of Iwankiw, County of Borshchiw, Province of Ternopil, Western Ukraine, which at that time was under the occupation of Austria. There he grew and attended the public school. Upon completion of his school years he stayed home helping his older brother, who was a village shoemaker. Then in March 1907, he decided to leave his native village, his family and friends, to seek his fortune in the New World.

He and a few other friends that decided to go, set out on their voyage from the port of Hamburg, Germany, at the beginning of March, and ended their voyage three weeks later in the harbour of St. John's, Newfoundland. From there they went to Fort William and got themselves a job as laborers working the terminals, but the job did not last too long as the terminals were completed. This meant, "Go west, young man", to pick up jobs that were

available, as there was no such thing as unemployment insurance. From there he and a couple of friends went in search of work on the rail lines around Kenora, Ontario, working for contractors who were working for the Grand Truck Railway, which later on, I believe, became the Canadian National Railway. Though wages were low and men partially paid, it also happened that the contractor would go bankrupt, and leave the men without getting the rest of the wages. This meant the men had to take up odd jobs in order to survive. Finally Petro got a job in Winnipeg, Manitoba, working in the freight yards.

In Winnipeg he met Anna, his wife, who was also from his native village in Europe. She was born December 8, 1889, to Sofia and Ivan Nykolyshyn and arrived in Canada in April, 1912. They got married in the fall of the same year. Also that year, Petro enrolled himself in a night class for immigrants, to get a better knowledge of English, and was transferred to Transcona railyards as a car repairer, where he worked until 1919.

In 1919 he took a trip to see his cousin at Smoky Lake, Alberta. The family was growing. There was by then William, the oldest son and Nellie, the first daughter, and wages were not high so he decided to go farming in the Smoky Lake area, and stayed there from 1919 to 1924. This is where I, Dmytro, second and third child was born, October 17, 1923.

The land was grey, wooded and rocky. My father came across an ad in the paper stating that there was raw land for sale in the Elk Point area. So he got in touch with the land agent, who took him around to see the land. After looking over the land, he decided to take the S.W.l /4 17-56-6-W4, and in the spring of 1925 took his family and belongings to this new area by train to St. Paul, and by horse teams to Elk Point, as the railway did not reach Elk Point at that time. That same year there came an addition to the family, the last and second daughter, Mary.

Being interested in public affairs, Petro was elected in 1928 as secretary-treasurer of King George School District, and served to 1935 on the school board, and was also elected as a municipal councillor in 1928, and served until 1930 in the Municipal District of Ethelwyn. Finding it too hard to look after the farm and public affairs both, he declined re-election to the municipal council.

My father also took part in community affairs, such as local church organizations, being Secretary of the local church, and also a member of the King George Community Organization, and also took part in the local farm organizations. Later on, due to health reasons, he only took part in the local church organization. He retired in 1959 from farming, and went to live in Elk Point. I took over the family farm.

From 1960 to 1969 he spent his retirement years with his daughter Nellie in British Columbia in a warmer climate. There he went to his everlasting rest, being predeceased by his wife Anna in 1960, and oldest son William in 1930. He left behind two daughters, Nellie and Mary, and one son, Dmytro, also three grandsons, one serving five years with the Royal Canadian Airforce, and two serving with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and one grand-daughter.

Family pictures are not available due to the disaster of fire on the family farm at Elk Point On July 11,1974