Povaschuk, Bazyl

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by John Povaschuk

Bazyl Povaschuk, my father, was born in Austria in 1883. His parents died during the war and he was left an orphan. He worked for a shoemaker for a while, then, living conditions were so poor there, the Bishop of his church advised him and his friend to come to Canada where there would be better living conditions. In 1905 they both got work in Edmonton, then in 1907 my Father filed on a homestead in the Northern Valley district.

Then began building a home from logs, which were then plastered with clay and, when dry, whitewashed. The home was heated with a wood stove in the kitchen and an air tight heater for the living room, which was very hard to control for proper temperature in the home.

My mother, Anna Ferina, born 1886, came to Canada with her parents from the Ukraine. They moved to Manitoba for two years, then bought a homestead in the Primula area in 1909. Later in the same year she married my father. They drove with a team of oxen and wagon to Vermilion, where the marriage ceremony took place.

We got our mail from Hopkins Post Office. Later, in 1912, in Northern Valley Mr. Doxey had the post office and, later, Mr. Ernest Heinemann served our community.


Mr and Mrs Bazi1 Povaschuk and daughter Mary, 1941.

There were three children in my parents' family: Michael, now living in Toronto; Mary, living in Grande Prairie, and myself, John, who married Verdella Robinson. She was born in Clarksburg, Ontario.

I attended school at King George. In 1912 there was only one room, made of frame construction. In 1928 another room was added where seventy children were taught Grades I to X. We walked to school and, during the years of our schooling our teachers were Mr. Robinson, Mr. Zvarich, Mr. Treffiak, Miss McMullan and Miss Hass.


Johnny repairing the Model T Ford


Grandpa Povaschuk with his grandchildren Clifford, Jim, and Bob.

While I attended school, Mr. Robinson, being our teacher and a very good gardener, also took special care of his perennial border. On one occasion he divided a clump of peonies and gave several students each a root. I happened to be fortunate to receive a root. Over the years it has been divided and given to friends in our Elk Point community. We brought a root to town, so the memory of my school days blooms every summer.

On the topic of home remedies, there was one I shall never forget, but wish my mother had. Each spring she would mix up sulphur and molasses and give us each a generous portion. This, she said, was a great blood purifier.

Our entertainment was just around our neighborhood. Although there was not much money to spend, we all enjoyed going to church. Every summer there were community picnics, which parents and children took part in; races, ball games, and sharing of the lunch baskets. During the winter, there were surprise house parties. Ladies brought lunch. The menfolk who had violins, mouth organs and accordians supplied the music and we danced, sang songs and all had a wonderful time.

There were also Box Socials. The girls would decorate their lunch box very elaborately, each containing enough lunch for two. Come midnight, the fun began. The boxes were put up for auction, the bidding began, sometimes leaving some of the boys wondering if they had enough money to buy their girl friend's lunch box.

My father loved working with wood. He carved a churm for my mother from a poplar tree, also a washboard, mixing spoons, etc.

The first years of farming, wheat and oats were our main crops. We sold our grain and livestock in Vermilion. The neighbors usually got the cattle all together that were to be sold, and went on horseback, herding them to Vermilion to the market place.

The first set of harrows my father owned were made from birch, the teeth from saskatoon bushes. This he made himself. He began farming with oxen. He said those were the days when a farmer's patience was tested many times, especially during very hot days. When flies and mosquitoes were bad, the oxen would run, with him and equipment, to the closest slough and stand there in the water. With much persuasion, he would get them back to work. Later he farmed with horses. Our first tractor was a McCormick, which helped a great deal to get the crops cut. Early frosts were a great hazard; also bush fires created many problems.

Regardless of all the hardships we endured, we have many wonderful memories of our early years on the farm.