PIONEER DAYS OF ALEX AND KATIE PANKIW
by Lee Moneta
Alex Pankiw was born in Boidure Brody, Austria in 1892. He migrated to Canada in 1910 and stayed with his brother Steve on his farm in the King George District. He worked on the Canadian National Railways in Vermilion and Edmonton.
Katie Demko, born in 1895, migrated to Canada in 1912 from Bolesteschi Perymish, Austria. She worked in a restaurant in Vermilion, making five dollars a month.
Katie and Alex Pankiw with the two youngest children, Elizabeth and Walter, 1933.
In 1914, Alex and Katie met and were wed that following year in Vermilion. They bought a homestead in the Gratz District, in the spring of 1917 along the North Saskatchewan River, across from Fort George. They cleared the land by hand to plant a garden and seed grain. That winter Alex returned to Vermilion on foot to work on Canadian National Railways. He bought a pair of oxen to clear the land and that year built a log house.
The harvesting was done by hand. The wheat was cut with a scythe and the bundles were tied by braiding the straw. It was then hauled to the neighbors three miles away to be threshed. The nearest elevator was Vermilion, forty miles away.
Dad later bought a pair of horses which made farming easier. In 1945 he bought a new tractor and other machinery and also a new truck which made transportation and farming a luxury.
Our parents were active and interested in the community. Dad was a trustee for Willow Range School for many years. All the neighbors worked together in cutting logs and putting up log buildings for one another. Dad and Mom were always there to lend a helping hand.
In 1930 Dad had a serious operation. Thanks to Dr. Ross and Dr. Miller he got back on his feet again to work and provide for his family. Since we lived along the North Saskatchewan River, Dr. Ross would stop at our place to rest his horses and warm up while he was in our area making house calls.
Through the years, our parents raised eight children. Bill, Mike and Pete are farming in the Elk Point District, Steve a postal worker living in Edmonton, served in the army for three years, married Stella Harrison and is living in Edmonton. Mary Melnyk retired from farming and is residing in Elk Point. Leona Moneta is employed in the local hospital and living in Elk Point. Walter is farming the home place. The children have now expanded the family tree to thirty-three grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren.
Our parents retired from farming in 1964 and resided in Elk Point. Dad passed away at the age of eighty:one years in September 1973 and our mother was put to rest on September 7, 1977.
The children remember their great parents with lasting gratitude.