by Carl Dembicki
Kazymir Dembicki and Julia Dutka came to Canada as children with their parents from Austria in 1903, on the same ship: fourteen days from Austria to Montreal, then to South Edmonton by train. They were met by friends who took them by team to the Mundare district, where they stayed until they purchased land in the Two Hills district. The children attended Lenyck School.
In 1912 Kazymir heard of land available in what was later known as the Gratz district, eleven miles southeast of Elk Point. Here he homesteaded a quarter for $10.00.
Then he went to work for the railway to earn money to buy a team, plough, axe, grub hoe, and to get married.
In 1914 he and Julia Dutka were married in the Catholic Church in Mundare. Then they came to the homestead to build a house of logs, using plaster (clay mixed with water, straw or hay) to fill the openings between the logs, sod for a roof, and the ground for a floor.
In those days land was cleared by axe and grub hoe. Small areas most easily cleared were broken by a team and a walking plough. Their means of transportation was by foot or team and wagon. There were only trails for roads and many times the wagons would bog down and they would have to pry them up by hand, using a rail for a jack.
The nearest town was Vermilion. Here they got wheat ground into flour and purchased groceries. The round trip to Vermilion took them three days by team. In temperatures below freezing they kept warm by walking most of the way. Their family was six boys and two girls. In 1964 they moved to Elk Point in retirement.