Home Town or Home Community:
Time is a journey that transcends the past, present and future. This is the amazing journey of our Kowal ancestors who had originated in Galacia, Austria.
Kazimiezr Kowal had been a widower when he had left for Canada in 1904. His two daughters, Nellie (Tom Semkiw) and Pearl (Mike Stoyanowski) and their families, had also joined him on the ship that had set sail for the ‘new land.’ Following their arrival at the Canada Customs in the Pier 21 Harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, they had traveled west and had immediately settled in St. Norbert, Manitoba. During his three years there Kazimier had come to the realization that although his decision for freedom had been a wise one, it had not come without its share of sacrifices. He had desperately missed the rest of his family that had remained in Austria; an only son Stanislaw (born May 3, 1875) his wife Magdalena (born in 1879) and their three year old son Walter (born August 27, 1901).
Stanislaw and Magdalena had managed to keep things running smoothly during Kazimiezr’s three year absence. Stanislaw had served in the Polish Army and together he and his wife had owned and maintained a thriving fruit orchard. Despite the fact that they had been kept very busy with that, they had still longed to join their family in Canada. Once they had agreed to leave Austria, Stanislaw had ventured alone to St. Norbert, Manitoba in 1907. Shortly thereafter, Magdalena and Walter had reunited with him in 1908. Three years later they had announced the birth of their daughter Nellie (born December 8, 1910.)
By then, advertisements for 160 acre farms had come up for sale in the West. That news alone, had been enough to lure the entire Kowal family to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on April 24, 1911. Once they’d arrived there, Stanislaw had filed for a Homestead on; Southwest 13 in Township 50, Range 25 and West of the Second Meridian on June 10, 1911 for the fee of ten dollars. Soon after, their days had become filled with clearing the bush, grubbing the land, picking the roots, digging a well, building a house, corrals, barns and other necessary tasks. And as if that hadn’t been enough, Magdalena had also established another orchard that had consisted of strawberries, raspberries, sand cherries, plums, kalyna (high bush cranberry), Saskatoon bushes, 3 Crabapple trees and 3 Gooseberry plants. The view from the verandah on the west side of their house had not only included that beautiful thriving orchard, but it had also encompassed a new cement sidewalk that had been edged with her faithfully weeded Pansies, Peonies and the like. One of Magdalena’s traits had been her ability to create wonderful pastry, doughnuts and bread. Her special recipe for canned Crabapple pie filling had been the envy of many people.
Meanwhile on the opposite side of the globe, in the village of Denysiu, Austria, the Kowal’s future daughter-in-law Anne Bukszak, had been born on December 22, 1903, to Anthony and Hazel (Czipak) Bukszak. Anne’s siblings had consisted of an older brother who had later died from a lung infection at the age of 7, two younger brothers Michael and Steven and a baby sister Mary. Anne’s parents had been well-to-do farmers who had certainly understood the meaning of hard work. Likewise they had believed and had made sure that all of their hard working hired help had been paid well. Those who had known Anthony, had said that he’d been somewhat of a perfectionist. Though his young unmarried daughter Anne, should have been proud of his abilities, she had become concerned none the less; for she had known that once she had married, her husband would have been required to live with her family and he would have had to prove himself both capable and hardworking, while trying to uphold the family standards.
Anne’s dreams of Canada had appeared when she’d first laid eyes on the catalogue photos of beautifully dressed Canadian women. Anne had often imagined herself as being among those women and her vision had finally came to light in 1924 when at the age of 20, she and her cousin Mary Chambul had departed for Canada. Although that should have been an extremely happy time for Anne, she had cried through the entire voyage. So much in fact that Mary had asked her, “Anne, why you be cry so much? We be go to Canada?” Anne had never answered her. Instead, she had simply continued to be consumed with the sadness and regret of not having bid her family farewell. For you see, it was Anne’s Uncle John Ruznisky who had offered enough ship fare in order for two relatives to come to Canada. Anne’s parents had decided that would be the perfect opportunity for her to explore her Canadian dream. Like the Kowals, the two women had arrived via ship to the Canadian Customs dock, located at Pier 21 Harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there Anne had traveled West to the settlement of Honeymoon, Sask., arriving October 14,1924, where she had resided with her father’s sister (Aunt Mary and Uncle John Ruznisky.)
Shortly after settling in with her relatives, Anne had required some dental work in Prince Albert. With her appointment behind her, she had quickly bundled up her coat collar and had then set out to brave the howling winter wind. While she had been waiting to cross the street, a gentleman had appeared beside her and had begun to make idle chit chat with her. Not wanting to expose her swollen mouth to the frigid air, Anne had simply nodded her acknowledgement, had pulled her collar tighter around her face, and had proceeded to cross the street, leaving a young and very confused Walter Kowal behind. After their many months of chance encounters and eventual courtship, Anne Bukszak and Walter Kowal had headed for the alter. They had arrived at the newly constructed Albertville Church on May 9, 1925, in a 2 horse drawn buggy that had been called a Democrat. It’s been said that when their ceremony had ended, Father LeBel had generously offered Walter a glass of celebratory wine. And while Anne had just become a married woman herself, the table of tradition had turned on her when ‘she’ had been the one that had moved in with ‘her’ in-laws. (Yes, that had certainly diminished her European family standards, where the husband had been required to live with ‘his’ in-laws.) Never the less, Anne had taken her 2 ½ year residency with Walter’s family quite seriously. It’s been noted that she had often impressed her in laws with her remarkable abilities as a new wife. In fact, Anne had said that when her mother-in-law had tasted her cooking for the first time, she’d had no qualms in asking Anne to take over that particular kitchen task.
In 1927, Walter had built a two room house on his own quarter of land that he had purchased with the help of his father in 1919, on North East 13 in Township 50, Range 24 and West of the Second Meridian. Walter’s first tractor had been a 1924 Titan, followed by a 1926, 1530 McCormick Deering steel-wheeled tractor. His first car had been a 1927 Essex that had been purchased in 1927. Walter had helped his father Stanislaw, build a barn in 1927 and a 2 story house in 1929; all of which still stand where Walter Jr. and his wife Grace reside today.
Like many young couples that had settled in the Honeymoon district, Anne and Walter Sr. had become parents to 8 healthy children: Ellen Theresa on April 28, 1926, Frances Mary on August 2, 1927, Walter Frank Jr. on November 8, 1929, Stanley James on March 24, 1931, Josephine Lily on April 24, 1932, Anna Alexandra on September 18, 1933, Steve Robert on March 2, 1935 and Johnnie Tony on August 27, 1937 (his father’s birth date). Mrs. Barbara Hordyski had attended all of the children’s births and imagine her surprise when Walter Sr. had awarded her ten dollars following the birth of his first son.
Money had been scarce in the early thirties so Walter Sr. had gone to work in the bush with other such laborers as Tony, Joe and Paul Krawec, Steve Wozny, and Peter and William Palidwar. The duration of those trips had gone on from November to March and had lasted for nearly 4 seasons. They had cut burnt Spruce for pulp north of Birchbark Lake and had hauled it to Foxford where it had been loaded in Canadian Pacific box cars that had been bound for the United States. Anne had generously sent sacks of potatoes, onions, sauerkraut and lard; and Walter had provided a beef or pork from the farm. He had also hunted for moose or elk to help feed the men at the camp. Meanwhile back at the farm, Anne had seen to the chores, had kept the house clean, and had raised the children. Anne had said she’d been so busy that there had been many times when the children had come home from school, before she had even had a chance to start supper. Anne had been so busy in fact that one late fall day, Walter Sr. had been preparing for the bush . ………………and so had she. Walter had asked his wife why she had been so determined to have gone with him to the camp. Anne had told him that she had become frustrated because the heavy farm burdens had been too much for her to handle alone. Needless to say………..that had marked the end of Walter’s days at the bush camp.
Despite all of that, Walter Sr. had been a good provider who had liked to have spent time with his family. He had supplied his family with extra meat from hunting elk, moose and deer. He had also taken great pleasure in fishing at Anglin and Candle Lake, even though he hadn’t been too keen on cleaning them. He had taken the children ice fishing at the North Saskatchewan River where he had instructed them to, “Bob your line up and down.” Occasionally in the summer Walter Sr. had taken the older children to Emma Lake or Waskesiu Lake on Sundays to enjoy a boat ride. For an added treat they’d had ice cream cones as well. Walter had enjoyed music and he had learned to play the violin by ear. He had also helped to build the first winding sand road that runs south of the Honeymoon Hall to the Pulp Mill. (The Kowal family still refers to that road today as the ‘sand hill road.’) Walter Sr. had been a councillor for the R.M. of Buckland Division 1 during the 1930’s and as well, he had been a member of his children’s school board.
The 1930’s had arrived with a vengeance for they had brought forth a hardship that had not only rocked the Honeymoon area, but the entire country as well. The Kowals had relied on their hard work and pride to get them through the challenge of raising their large family on meager earnings. A lot of families had certainly struggled through the ’30s, but the Kowal’s had been determined and together they had proudly persevered through one of the toughest times of the Twentieth Century………… ‘The Depression.’ To this day, the Kowal children still attribute and give thanks for the fact that they “never knew what the Depression was. We never went to bed hungry or cold. We always had lots of food and warm clothes to wear.” In addition, they have always known that their parents had worked hard to provide for them. While Anne had been an excellent and accurate seamstress who had made her own patterns from paper grocery bags. She had also cross-stitched tablecloths, dresser scarves, clothes and numerous parrot prints. Though Anne had started most of her sewing projects in the evenings, some of them hadn’t ended until the wee hours of the next morning. That particular chore had been evident to Walter every time he had seen his wife illuminated by the glow of the old oil lamp, that had once been their only source of light. Her husband had been sure to remind her of just how late it had gotten, every time he had said, “Anne, come to bed,” True to her word, Anne had simply nodded her head in acknowledgement and whispered, “I be finished, close the light.”
Yet other families had persevered and had gotten through trying times as well. Occasionally the Kowal’s had generously provided struggling families with food; in exchange for their work on the farm. Those that had settled nearby, had also worked long and hard and had suffered personal tragedies of their own. For instance, Tom and Nellie Semkiw’s infant daughter had been the first death that had occurred in the settlement; after which Tom had donated some of their land for a cemetery that had later become known as the ‘Honeymoon Cemetery.’
It hadn’t been long before the settling immigrants in the Honeymoon area had met to address an ongoing concern. They had desperately needed a place to gather so that they could worship their faith. One could only imagine how difficult it must have been, to have had built a church back then. Despite the very primitive tools they’d had access to in the mid 1920’s, God had made sure that his encouragement of strength had been felt by all, including Anne and Walter who had helped to erect Honeymoon’s first Polish Roman Catholic Church, ‘Our Lady Of Perpetual Help.’ Fashion had played a significant role for the female church goers as well. In those days, it had been proper for all women to adorn hats for the Holy services. The seating arrangements had been that the women had sat on the left side, while the men had occupied the right side. Seven out of the eight Kowal children had been baptized in that church, while Ann had been baptized in Grandpa Stanislaus and Grandma Maggie’s house. In fact, when Anne had carried her infant daughter across the yard to be baptized by Father Jozef Cybart at her in-laws house, their eldest child Ellen had called out to her, “Mom, make sure you call her Ann!” Imagine Ellen’s gratitude when her mother had indeed proclaimed their youngest daughter, ‘Anna Alexandra.’ Catechism classes had been a summer ritual for all of the Kowal children and the Priest had taught the six week long classes right at the church. Of course religion classes were the last place the children had wanted to be in the summer, but together with Anne’s infinite wisdom, she had used the promise of candy as a persuasion for the children to attend the classes. Church had been attended as regularly as the weather had permitted and Walter Sr. had often chauffeured the Priest from town to perform the Worships.
Education had played an integral part in the Kowal children’s lives. The children had been taught the Ukrainian language before the Polish one because there had been more Ukrainian speaking people in the community back then. Although Ukrainian had been their native tongue, neither of them had really spoke any English until they had started school. What they had learned there they had recited to their mother who had also been a quick learner. When it had come time to get their children ready for school, Walter Sr. and Anne had that particular weekly ritual down to a fine art. Once Walter Sr. had put the water on to heat and he had done a few outside chores, he had then told Anne that it was time to get the children ready for school. The children had attended Podole` School which had been located east of the Honeymoon Cemetery. It had been a one room school house that had offered grades 1 to 8 and sometimes had enrolled as many as 72 students. Some of the former Podole` teachers had included Mrs. Paskaruk, Mr. John Tokaryk, Mr. Mike Kindrachuk, Mrs. Jennie Palidwar and Miss Grace Ashby (who later married Walter Kowal Jr.). When the children had returned home from school, they had changed their clothes and had seen to the last half of their chores. There had been no exceptions for the girls either, for they had proved that they could work just as hard as the boys could. The children had milked 12 to 14 cows daily; after that they had separated the cream so that it could be sold in town. They had fed and watered all the animals by pail and they had cleaned out the barn and chicken coops as well.
When the children had been in school, Anne’s days had been just as long and laborious too. Monday had been laundry day and she had toiled for many an hour on simple, yet effective equipment that had merely consisted of a scrub board, lye soap and a wash tub. Two other week days had been reserved for baking, to which Anne had made an amazing 28 loaves of bread a week. And for a family of ten that had been a lot of bread back then! The bread had been coupled with homemade jams or Rogers Golden Syrup & Peanut Butter during the school week. Salmon sandwiches had been eaten on ‘Fasting Days.’ Fridays Mrs. Hordyski had come over and had made perogies with Anne. Saturdays had been reserved for town trips in order to take in the cream and to pick up staple supplies such as coffee, tea, sugar, salt, material for clothes and other items. While their parents had been away, the children had been assigned to do the chores and to make supper. On Sunday afternoons during the winter months when there had been less work to do and the children’s homework had been done, Anne had gathered her children and they had sung songs. She had often read them stories about the Kings and Queens and their families in Europe. Those stories and many others had continued into the summer months as an incentive for the children when they had plucked goose feathers. Anne had also made her own laundry soap out of lye, pork fat, wood ashes and other ingredients. Even canned chicken, beef, pork and fish had been necessities on the farm, as there had been no power or refrigeration. Those that had known Anne, knew that she had never been one to shy away from hard work. Even though their two bedroom house had been small, Anne had kept it tidy. She had taught the girls to sweep every corner and the children had never jumped on the well-made beds. Every spring and upcoming Christmas season they had seen to the task of washing the ceilings and the walls. Anne’s small frame had been quite stalwart when it had come time to dig the fourteen bushels of potatoes she’d planted. The same could have been said when she had made stooks of the grain, had worked with the threshing crew, had forked hay high onto the hay rack or when she had hauled 4 five-gallon pails of well water to the house. Although we know that carrying 2 five gallon pails of water in each hand might have seemed like an impossibility for such a small, short woman; Anne had in fact carried those two pails in each of her tiny hands, while maintaining a perfect and steady walk.
The Kowal farm had been self-sufficient with the many horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese and turkeys that they had kept. Of course no farm would have been complete without a large garden. Walter Sr. had made sure that he had helped Anne with this yearly task by seeding the peas out of the drill that he’d also used for grain; simply by plugging up some of the holes. Extra garden produce such as potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower had been traded in at either the New Windsor Grocery or the Prince Albert Grocery in town for cherries, plums, pears, peaches, apples, apricots, dry fruits and figs. These fruits along with vegetables from the garden had been canned for the coming winter. They had kept potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, sauerkraut and their own canned goods in the cellar under the house. Besides having milked their own cows, the family had made their own butter, cottage cheese and sauerkraut. Anne had also grown poppies to dry and use in various baking recipes. When the berries had ripened in the summer, the family had picked blueberries, saskatoons, kalyna, low bush cranberries, raspberries or mushrooms (pidpenky) after Sunday Church. Again, Anne had made these fruits into jams, canned them or had made fruit perogies that had been eaten with real fresh cream poured over them. Walter Sr. had never wanted to see his children go hungry and he’d made that known quite a few times when he had said, “Anne cook, let the children eat, they be grow and be healthy.” Of course Anne had shared her husband’s view on that particular subject too. Nothing had been more important to her than her family’s good health. For the rare times when they had needed medicinal treatment, Anne had proved her competence by using whatever home remedies she could muster up. For example, her homemade Blueberry wine had been added to hot tea when she had treated the family for coughs and colds during the winter. Any extra blueberries had been sold and the profit had been used for the family when they had attended various Sports Days or the Exhibition.
Laborious farm tasks might have taken much longer to complete, had it not been for Anne’s abundant meals that had been served with her famous “firewater drink”. It had consisted of hot tea, honey and lemon slices that had been brewed in a quart sealer and then wrapped in newspaper for added insulation. Many a thirst had been quenched by this simple beverage! Anne had certainly counted her blessings one particular Easter when she had been brewing her famous Hopps Beer. A knock on their door had announced the arrival of a very unexpected guest. The children had opened the door to reveal a six foot tall North West Mounted Police officer, who had been dressed in a buffalo coat and fur hat. Anne had immediately become nervous about her brewing beer because she’d heard that there had been many people who had been caught for bootlegging homebrew. The officer had told her not to worry because he had known that she had been using it for their own consumption and not for the purpose of selling. Since their house had also been frequently used by the N.W.M.P. for meals and rest stops along their way to apprehend criminals in the northern communities, the officers had come to know the Kowal’s way of living, quite well. Any visitor who had stopped by back then, would have agreed that they had all been well taken care of. In fact, people had been truly amazed at how well prepared Anne had been!
Though they had lived in an era where there had been a great amount of work to do, the Kowals had also taken the time to have fun. Quite often the children had made their own fun and amusement. Many times they had sat on the pedal of Anne’s Singer sewing machine and had pretended that they were ships that had sailed out to sea. They had also played Hide n’ Seek underneath their round dining room table. Yet another time they had made a pet out of a young bull calf. Once he had become fully grown they had rode him back and forth while they had pastured the cows.
The Kowal children had particularly enjoyed all community competitions. Besides their own district of Honeymoon, other areas such as Albertville, Cloverdale, Spruce Home, Kalyna, Meath Park, White Star, Janow Corners, Henribourg, and Strong Pine had offered many activities for both young and old alike. There had been ball games for the men, sack and three-legged races for the children and the women had raced while balancing a raw egg on a teaspoon. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Grandma ‘Maggie’ had won that race one year! And of course no event would have been complete without food and drinks and there had always been plenty of that on hand. Some of those canteen items had consisted of hotdogs, bananas, watermelon, chocolate bars and Revels. Soft drinks had sold for 10 cents and ice creams cones had sold for 5 cents.
Pie Socials had been held in late October to raise money for both the former Polish Hall and church, ‘Our Lady Of Perpetual Help.’ Mothers and daughters had baked pies, made sandwiches, prepared pickles and had brought a bottle of wine. That type of social meant that the people would gather in the hall and the orchestra leader would auction off each of the lunches to the single teenage boys and men in the crowd. All lunches had been awarded to the highest bidders. Once you had claimed the lunch, you then sat with the girl and her family who had prepared it, in order to get better acquainted with them.
Field Days had been held in May at their school and all of the Kowal children had competed in the races, long jump, high jump, ball throw and other various events. The top two in each event had gone on to compete against other top athletes and each year a different school had hosted this large competition. Many ribbons had been won by the Podole` students. Points had been issued for each placing and the team with the highest number of points had been awarded the prestigious Field’s Day trophy. Stan and Josie’s athletic abilities had helped their school to win that trophy on two separate occasions. Some of the athletes had even gone on to compete at Prince Albert’s P.A.C.I. school where medals had been awarded to the athletes.
Dances had been held every weekend in various communities. As teenagers Fran, Walter Jr., Stan, Josie and Ann had worked until dark and then they had washed up and had gotten ready for the dance. Their father had fueled up the Ford truck and away they had gone. The Kowal children’s generosity had often included driving the neighboring teenagers to those dances as well. Back then the dances had begun around 10 o’clock at night and had lasted until about five o’clock in the morning. Even Anne had known that her children could be coming home late so she had allowed them the simple pleasure of sleeping in until eight o’clock, before she had called them to do their chores. The family had also picnicked a lot on the Prince Albert riverbank with a lunch that had consisted of a ring of garlic sausage, ripe tomatoes, homemade bread and strawberry soda. In the winter they had socialized with neighboring families who had taken turns at hosting house parties where they had danced, sang songs, played cards and had lunch.
Christmas had been one of the most favorite times of the year for the Kowal family, for it had brought forth school and church concerts, tree trimming, baking, family gatherings, Worship, peace and the hope of a prosperous New Year. Like their Mother’s Day concerts, their Christmas school concerts had been held at the Honeymoon Hall because it had offered more room and it had a stage as well. The students had all taken part in the concert. There had been English and Ukrainian recitals, plays, skits, the girls had sang duets (the Karpish girls had been among some of the best), and the entire school from Grade 1 to 8 had sang Christmas carols. Once the concert had been over, they had all received a gift. (The children had been allowed to pick one item from the Eaton’s catalogue that had been bought for them on behalf of the school board that Walter Sr. had been a member of.) As far as the Christmas Church celebration had been concerned, there had rarely been a Christmas Eve Mass; for the Priest had 3 different community churches to perform Mass at. (Initially Mass had been held every Sunday, but because the other new and upcoming community churches had required a Priest as well, Mass had been offered every second Sunday and then eventually every third Sunday.) So needless-to-say Christmas Mass had been kept quite simple. Though it had been spoken in Latin, all of the hymns and carols had been sung in Polish. Everyone in the Kowal house had marveled at the large decorated Christmas tree that had stood proud every year and the candles were only lit at Christmas Eve on the tree. On Christmas Eve the family had gathered for their traditional twelve course meal at their long dining table, with the hay underneath representing the manger, it had held dishes like three kinds of perogies, buckwheat and rice cabbage rolls, bean and mushroom soup, fish, herring, beets with horse radish, mushroom gravy, pickles and a stewed dried fruit compote. Anne had also prepared a Ukrainian dish called Kutia, which had consisted of poppy seeds, wheat and honey. The family had also feasted on Anne’s mouth-watering homemade treasures like her famous doughnuts, khrustyky and pompushky that had been filled with prunes, apples, or poppy seeds for the holiday season. On occasion, their Grandparent’s cousin Ben, had brought them candies and nuts from the east. And although they had often celebrated without any gifts, the Kowals had still rejoiced in the fact that there had always been plenty of food, songs, card games, love and laughter to go around. Walter Sr.’s joy of singing carried over into Christmas morning and he would awaken everyone at 5 am to go caroling around the community. Who would have guessed that this holiday gathering would have turned out to be the start of many, many celebrations of ‘Christmas Eve on the farm.’ Indeed it had become a precious tradition, one that the Kowal’s and their generations would uphold and share for years to come.
Other gatherings had determined certain community decisions, such as how their rural post office had gotten it’s name. Apparently Stanislaw, Mark Korycki and John Berezowsky had been in the Land Title’s office discussing appropriate names for the building, when they had looked out the window and had noticed a bridal couple leaving. One of the men had said, “Look, they are off on their honeymoon.” The new office name had been unanimously agreed upon and the Honeymoon Post Office had been incorporated on May 1, 1916.
In 1939, a fire had broken out in the Nisbet Forest area that had been located south of the farm and close to where the Prince Albert Pulp Mill is located today. Walter Sr. and other men had gone to help contain the fire. Of course back in those days a fire was a dangerous thing and had usually burned everything in its’ path. Walter Jr., age 9, Walter Pawlyshyn and Adolph Dawiskiba were ordered to take the 1530 McCormick Deering steel-wheeled tractor and grader with them in order to make a fire guard. Thankfully the fire had eventually been put out. Barely being teenagers themselves, Walter Jr. 13 and Stanley 12, had been told to take a crosscut, sweedsaw, two horses and a sleigh to that burned out area. The boys had spent the better part of the day cutting wood and they hadn’t stopped until they had reached the required cord quota. As they had started to load the wood on the sleigh the boys had sensed the horses’ nervousness. Their assumptions had proved correct when the horses startling neighs had captured their attention. As hard as the boys had tried to peer into the distant bush, they had not been able to focus on the image of what had appeared to be, someone making their way through the bush with a lantern. Their fears had been put to rest once they had seen that it had been their mother who had emerged from the bush. Anne had told the boys that she had become worried when midnight had arrived and they still hadn’t made it home. The boys had eventually sold that cord of wood to Joe Kutzak, for the sum of three dollars and fifty cents.
The year of 1945 had brought forth a winter that would never be forgotten. Although it had been extremely cold temperature wise, there had never been any sign of snow. That hadn’t deterred 13 year old Stan who had gone to deliver feed hay for the horses that had been with his father, at Pete Korycki’s sawmill. Walter Sr. had been cutting the logs for his new house while Pete had helped out with the sawing. Stan notes that neighbors such as the Brassard’s, had been very hospitable when they had welcomed him and his team of horses so that they could refresh themselves during their 24 mile trek north of Paddockwood.
The drafting of men during WW II had caused a shortage of men in certain trade jobs. That had definitely become an incentive for 16 year old Ellen and Katie Hryhor who had left for Ontario in December of 1942. Both of the girls had been successful in landing jobs at the St. Catharines Steel Factory where they had built shells and bombs. Stan noted that there had not been any school during those two years of war, because their teacher had been drafted as well.
In 1944 Walter Sr. and his father Stanislaw had moved the summer kitchen to the quarter of land by the Nisbet Reserve. Shortly thereafter, the Kowal’s had decided to build a new house because their seven children had required more space. The cement for the basement had been poured in 1945 and Fran remembers when she had worked the cement with a board in order to get the air pockets out and to help make it smooth. Once again, Stanislaw had rolled up his sleeves to help out with their new project. Walter Sr. and Anne had been thankful for Stanislaw’s help in the past and since their house had been one of the biggest projects they had taken on, they had been extremely grateful to him. They had also obtained their hardware materials at McDiarmid Lumber that had been located in Henribourg. Following that, an ice house had been built to prevent their perishables from spoiling, as there had been no power available back then. To help keep items cold throughout the hot summers, Walter Sr. had cut ice blocks from the North Saskatchewan River in the spring and then he had put them amongst the wood shavings in the ice house to help with the insulation factor.
Their son Walter Jr. recalls when his father Walter Sr. had purchased a 1914 Model T from Modern Motors in 1944 for $50.00, a one ton light blue Ford Truck in 1946, a Ford 8N tractor in 1947 and a threshing machine in 1948. Daughter Ann also remembers when her father received a letter from the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan after WW II, that had stated if he had driven the Model T to Detroit, that he would have received a brand new car from them. (They had wanted his car because it had been one of the very few still around at that time.) Walter Sr. had decided against the trip mainly because it would have been a very long trip to make and the road conditions back then, were unlike the highways that exist here today. As it was, a fellow from the United States had purchased both the Essex car and the Titan tractor for restoration purposes and for a total sum of $400.00.
The Kowal’s youngest son Johnnie, had often expressed a real kindness towards animals. That fondness had probably started when he had been about four years old and someone had taken a photograph of him holding some baby chicks. That affection had continued years later, when he had caught a buck and two doe with a rope while on skis in the winter of 1955 when there had been 5 feet of snow. He had brought them back to the farm for feeding, otherwise they would have fallen prey to the hungry wolves and coyotes. Johnnie had released them back into the wilderness the following spring. Then he had found two orphaned bear cubs when he had been working on the Hanson Lake Road with the D.N.R. Once again, Johnnie had brought the animals back to the farm so that he could care for them. The cubs had stayed in the pen that he had constructed until he’d been able to find them a home at the zoo.
The year of 1945 had brought about exciting news of a marriage for one of the Kowal children. That occasion had marked the start of one of Anne’s well known sayings, “I be sewing new dress and make doughnuts, khrustyky and Matrimonial cake!” The Kowal’s eldest child Ellen, had married Thomas Bayer on November 24, 1945 in Ontario. It was while they had been living in St. Catharines that further exciting news heralded the arrival of the next generation: their first son Tom in July of 1946 (wife Sandra (McPherson) and daughters Lynsey and Theresa), followed by their second son Larry (wife Debbie (Kukaryshen) and children Lawrence and Kelsey). The birth of Tom had also proclaimed Walter Sr. and Anne as grandparents who had become known as ‘Dido’ and ‘Baba.’
Walter Jr. had headed for Ontario in the fall of 1947 but had returned in 1948 when his grandfather Stanislaw, had signed the homestead to him for the legal fee of one dollar plus one-third crop share for the grandparents. Stanislaw and Magdalena had remained on the homestead until their passing.
Fran had left for Ontario in the fall of 1949 with Phinney Hollick. Fran’s reason for leaving had been simple for she had not wanted to remain on the prairies like most young people had done back then, for their only recourse had been to marry at much too young an age.
Milestones had been celebrated with fervor and the Kowal’s 25th Wedding Anniversary had been no exception. While Anne had sewed herself a new gray and navy trimmed dress, her daughter Ann had taken on the task of creating the special cake that had been shared by all. Walter Jr. had also been busy modifying the Model T into a convertible. Anne’s initial skepticism had kept her from getting into that open aired vehicle, but after some lengthy persuasion, she had finally relented and had let Walter Jr. drive them to the Polish Hall, which had been the hosting site of the happy couple’s celebration.
The fall of 1950 had seen two more Kowal children headed for Ontario. Stanley and Josie had decided to follow the trail to where better jobs had been offered.
In 1952 Walter Sr. had traded off the Ford truck and had bought a 2 ton grain truck.
The following years had brought about a flourish of weddings for the remaining Kowal children. Anne had acknowledged each of those celebrations by awarding each couple with a handmade quilt and two goose feather pillows. Anne’s sewing tradition had carried on to her next two generations as well, for she had made flannelette quilts for both her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. The remaining Kowal weddings were as follows:
Walter Jr. married Grace Ashby on June 20, 1953 in Prince Albert, Sask. and they reside on what was formerly their grandparent’s homestead, in Honeymoon, Sask. They have four children: Walter Brian III (wife Lois (Ludlow) and children Chad (son Riley), Kailyn (wife Toni (Vandale) and sons Marcus and Brandon) and Shayne. Kerry (wife Darlene (Deck) and sons Dylan, Logan, and Jacob). Randy (wife Bonnie Clarke and son Joshua). A daughter Michele (husband George Stavros and children Stavrou, Kyriakos, Anastasia, Alexandros and Costantinos).
Josie married Paul Yachetti on October 2, 1954 in Ontario and they reside in Grimsby, Ontario. They have two children: Paula (husband Michael McCormick and children Melissa and twin sons Devin and Drew) and son James.
Fran married Lino Giavedoni during the Easter season on April 27, 1957 in Ontario and they reside in Winona, Ontario. They have two children: Steven and Jennifer.
Ann married John Liebrecht on June 15, 1957 in Prince Albert, Sask. and they reside in Honeymoon, Sask. They have three children: Kelly (wife Roxanne (Zelensky) and children James, Stephanie and David). Debbie (husband Lionel Diehl and children Chris, Renae, Jarett, Bobbi (husband Kelly Kotlarchuk and children Graham and Evan), Trent (wife Geri Syroteuk), Trevor, Rochelle (Ryan McKinnon and daughter Evangeline), and Sandy (husband John MacDonald and son Greg).
Johnnie married Audrey Briggs on May 20, 1961 in Prince Albert, Sask. Following the births of their two children they had moved to Mississauga, Ontario in 1964. Although Johnnie had passed away in 1985, Audrey remains in Mississauga, Ontario with their two children: Brett (wife Jan (Guest) and children Tylor, Jade and Riley), and Shelley (with son Trenton).
Steve married Yvonne (Provencher) on July 15, 1961 in Prince Albert, Sask., where they reside today. They have two children: Derek and Lori (husband Dan Bolotniuk, daughter Brooke and son Cole).
Stan married Evelyn (Hamilton) on August 9, 1968 in Prince Albert. and they reside in Samburg. They have three daughters: Adrienne (husband Lionel Lavoie and children Andre`, Justin and Nadine), Nancy (husband Gilbert Lavoie and children Ivan, Angela and Gille), and Jamie (husband Michael Jensen and daughter Lisa).
As fun loving as Walter Sr. and Anne had been, they had also been quite competitive. They had thoroughly enjoyed the times they had traveled with their daughter Ann and her in-laws, Sam and Vivian Liebrecht, to watch their sons play against each other. Walter Sr. had taken absolute pleasure in cheering for his sons, while Sam had delighted in watching his son John play, whatever softball, baseball or hockey games they’d had.
For a woman who had never owned a driver’s license, Anne sure had covered a lot of ground; including numerous trips to Ontario. During Christmas of 1964 she had flown down to Ontario and had gone to Florida with Josie and her family. They had driven through a blizzard and had eventually made it safely to Florida. Although Anne had been initially bewildered by Florida’s warm climate for that time of year, she had been truly amazed by all it‘s wonder. During that trip they had traveled to such places as Fort Lauderdale and the Keys as well. They had shopped and bought oranges and grapefruit in Orlando and they had also bought pistachios in Georgia.
As mentioned earlier, Walter Sr. had always had a new vehicle in his midst. He had purchased a brand new, dark blue half ton truck in 1966 and another one in 1972, which had been ‘Bay Rock Blue’ in color. Living in Canada for so many years and considering themselves ‘Canadians’, imagine how Walter and Anne truly felt once they were granted Canadian Citizenship on June 21, 1968.
In the summer of 1970, Walter Sr. and Anne had gone to celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of their eldest child Ellen and her husband Tom. They had made the long journey to Ontario by truck and camper and they had enjoyed the company of their daughter Ann and her three children. Traveling with the grandchildren had made for some pretty hilarious times!
After nearly fifty years of being away from her precious family and homeland, Anne had finally returned for a visit in 1974, along with her daughter Ann and son-in-law John. One can only imagine how overwhelmed Anne must have felt, when she had taken her first step on to the ground now referred to as, ‘Polish soil.’ Once they had arrived in Warsaw, they had traveled by cab to where Anne’s cousins Joseph and Domka had lived (in Opole, the German side of Poland) in order to meet up with her two brothers and her sister.
In the fall of 1990, Anne’s only sister Mary from Poland, had been sponsored by Fran to visit here in Canada. It had turned out to be a very special visit for the sisters, because that had marked the last time that they had been together. Since that visit Anne had faithfully continued to write and to send parcels to her ‘overseas’ family.
Dido and Baba’s farm had held many exciting adventures for the visiting grandchildren. They had all had their turn at helping their grandparents out on the farm. They had chopped and hauled wood, milked the cows and separated the cream, cleaned chickens, cleaned the chicken coop, picked and cleaned blueberries, picked and shelled peas, hauled water, loaded hay, cooked and sewed, did the dishes, hung out the laundry and had washed the ceilings, walls and windows. Play times had been when they had gone fishing with Dido, built tree forts together, hunted, played shinny on the sloughs, played cards, sung songs, danced, skidooed, tobogganed and had driven the little Ford tractor. One of the best memories of Dido and Baba had been that they had never come to visit empty handed. They had always brought along such goodies as homemade baking and cooking, fruit, vegetables, wafer cookies, or popcorn twists.
In the summer of 1975, Walter Sr. and Anne had celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at Ed’s Inn in Prince Albert. At that time, the grandchildren had started to marry and Walter Sr. and Anne had been thrilled that their first great grandchild, Chad, had been there so they could take their four generation photo. To mark the Kowal’s special occasion a family photo had been taken as well.
In their later years, Walter Sr. and Anne had continued to do what they had always loved to do. Together they had watched hockey and ball games on television. In the summer Anne had walked to the forest reserve to pick blueberries and Walter Sr. had picked her up in the afternoons with the Ford tractor. Ah yes………that tractor had kept the boy in Walter Sr.; for when he had been riding that tractor, Anne had wasted no time in turning on the television, so that she could tune in to ‘Don Messer Jubilee’ or the ‘Soaps,’ which she had commonly referred to as ‘her stories.’ She had loved to enjoy a hot cup of tea while she had read her Polish and Ukrainian papers that she had subscribed to. Walter Sr.‘s love for sweet things had not gone unnoticed either. Even though his wife Anne had topped his list of cravings, his other goodies had included Jersey Milks, Coffee Crisps, Cherry Drops and Juicy Fruit gum. In fact, to prove just how much of a sweet tooth he’d had, Walter Sr. had spent many an afternoon indulging in cold treats at the Dairy Queen, while Anne had been shopping at Safeway’s or Kresges.
Those would certainly be the times that Anne would cherish about Walter Sr.; particularly after his passing in 1983. Due to Anne’s strong will, faith and determination, her family had gotten to enjoy her company for another nineteen years; until her passing in 2002. Throughout that time her family had also gotten the chance to witness Anne’s (Mom’s, Baba’s) continued strength and happiness. Baba had felt truly blessed every time she had witnessed her great grandchildren play hockey and other sports. She had been impressed with the famous Rocky Mountains that she had seen with her son Steve and his wife Yvonne. Baba had also witnessed many of her grandchildren’s and great grandchildren’s Baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations She had also lived with and had gone for regular car rides with her daughter Ann and her husband John. Baba had also enjoyed and could hardly wait for, her daily 3 o’clock tea and doughnuts that had been prepared by Ann and John.
On behalf of the entire Kowal family, we’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our Baba and Dido and to their ancestors as well. We’d like to say, “Thank-you for your courageous voyage and for persevering through many hardships, so that we could live in this wonderful country of ‘Canada.’ One of the few lands where freedom and peace still exist today.”
Transcribed by Walter Sr. & Anne’s granddaughters: Adrienne Lavoie & Debbie Diehl.