Home Town or Home Community:
THE NICULAI PETRAR FAMILY
Arbore, Bucovina, Romania is situated near the Ukrainian border and was part of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire when Niculai was born on Nov. 18, 1887. The town is nestled in the foothills of the heavily forested Carpathian Mountains with wide green valleys and sparkling streams. One of the streams runs through Arbore where gypsies do their laundry on warm, sunny days. Generations of peasants laboriously worked with primitive tools to eke out a living in the surrounding area.
It was into this environment that Niculai (Nicolae) Petrar (Petraru, Petrari) was born to Cozma Petraru (1850-1914) and Ilinca Sturza (1870 – 1940). Cozma was a lumber worker and was killed by a fallen tree. Niculai had four brothers and six sisters. The family attended the Romanian Orthodox Church in Arbore that was built in the 16th century and decorated with frescoes. These were historical and biblical pictures painted on the outside walls to tell the religious stories to the early illiterate peasants.
In Romania Petrar was spelt with an added ‘u and/or “i”, and on all of Niculai’s early documents until he eventually dropped it. We were told the name meant “stone”.
Niculai’s family worked the small plot of land that was owned by the state, hardly enough to support a large family. Before immigrating to Canada he served his compulsory two months in the Romanian army.
Early in the 20th century land and steamship companies were advertising glowing reports in the east European countries to lure poor peasants to emigrate to the Canadian west. To escape the economic depression of the country Niculai was enticed to the “land of plenty” where one could become rich very quickly. He sailed from Antwerp April 11 1911, aboard the SS Lake Michigan and arrived in Quebec May 31, 1911 .There were an increasing number of Romanians in the Regina area, so we can only presume that is why he and his sister Magdalena went there. One of his first jobs was working on the Legislative Buildings in Regina. He also purchased shares in a broom factory.
Niculai became a naturalized Canadian citizen July 16, 1914. The document states that he was born in Arbore, Austria. This was because Arbore was part of Austria at the time.
His brother Dimitru (Dan) followed in 1912 and together they owned a small house in east Regina. They worked for Constantine Corches and Trian Milos. In 1915 they traded the house to Dimitru Moroshan for his homestead (Sec.34, Tp.23, R15, W2nd) four miles north of Dysart, Sask. and another Romanian settlement. They remained as bachelors until the early 1920’s when Nicolai sent the boat fare for his bride, Domnica Iremescu, also of Arbore, daughter of Dimitru Iremescu and Magdalena Elasa.
Domnica was born May 10,1902 and lived with two elderly aunts. She arrived in Dysart in the spring of 1922 after traveling on a boat where passengers were packed like cattle in the lower decks. Niculai and Domnica were married on May 16, 1922 at St. George Romanian Orthodox Church (built in 1906) in Dysart.
Their home consisted of two rooms, a kitchen and a combined front room and bedroom. Domnica kept it spotless with the bed having a prominent corner, which was piled high with homemade feather ticks and pillows. They both, like many new immigrants, worked hard and long hours to make a living.
The depression years of the 1930’s were very difficult times. 1937 was especially dry and at harvest time, when they cut the wheat with the binder sheaves couldn’t be made because the stand was so thin. It was put into piles and picked up to take to the threshing machine. The yield was 100 bushels from 100 acres. During that winter, because there was no feed for the animals Niculai was offered a bit of straw from a bush by a neighbor.
Niculai worked the land with small used implements and horses, often walking behind them for hours in the dust and uneven land. Some of the implements were a two furrow plough, 3′ to 4′ sections of harrows, a 6′ disc, a drill – all pulled by four or more horses The land was quite stony so many backbreaking hours were spent hand picking stones. They had a few milk cows, pigs and chickens. In later years the cream separated from the milk was shipped to nearby dairies, by train. The cream was stored in an icehouse until shipped.
Domnica was always very proud of her washing. She would scrub and boil the sheets, feather quilt covers, tea towels (made from flour bags) and men’s white shirts until they were snow white. Bluing was added to the rinse water to help whiten them. Saturday was always a busy day preparing a large meal for Sunday. Fried chicken and lemon pies were specialties cooked on the wood stove in the summer kitchen so the regular kitchen would not get too hot.
Along with other Romanian families in the district many happy times were spent together With them they were able to carry on their customs and traditions of their homeland. Romanian weddings and funerals were attended by all. They were faithful members of St. George Romanian Orthodox Church. It was not uncommon for Niculai to walk the four miles to church each Sunday while the rest of the family had transportation. He was the bell ringer for years, which required a special talent, as there are two bells in the tower to be rung simultaneously.
Niculai and Domnica had five children – John, Marie, Dimitru (still born), George and Margaret. They were all born in the little house, which had a lean-to added in later years. Domnica suffered with many ailments and had numerous surgeries during her life. Without the aid of Medicare it kept the family in debt for years. The debts would be added to the municipal taxes and if one could not pay them the landowner did manual work for the Rural Municipality. Niculai paid debts for health care until late in life. He died in hospital April 24, 1965 and Domnica died Jan. 8, 1971. They are buried in St. George Romanian Orthodox cemetery.
John, born April 9,1923, worked on the farm and did house work for his mother when she was ill. He was often kept home from Gardiner School, which he attended, to do this work. In his early teens he did work for local farmers and was a lineman for the
McDonald Hills Telephone Co. He joined the armed forces in Oct. 1943, obtaining farm leave to help during harvest. During his service he developed the measles and was quarantined so his troop was sent overseas without him. He was discharged in Nov. 1945 He married Gladys Mitchell, McDonald Hills, Sask. on Oct. 9, 1948.
He became manager of The Dysart Co-op in Aug. 1950 and managed the bulk outlet and grocery store until 1985. During his tenure the Co-op flourished and became a very viable business in the village. He served on Village Council for 32 years – eight as Mayor, Parkland Library Board for 20 years and has been a warden at St. Cuthbert Anglican Church since 1964. He was also a Charter Member of The Dysart Credit Union, an original board member of Qu’Appelle Valley Home Care District #39, a member of The Royal Canadian Legion, and a member of the Masonic Lodge and Order of The Eastern Star.
Gladys, born March 21, 1928 attended McDonald Hills and Dysart schools, followed by Normal School in Moose Jaw in 1946 – 1947. She taught at River Ayr (Broadview) and Cornwall (south of Southey) Schools before marriage. When John became manager at the Dysart Coop she became part time bookkeeper, a job she held for 38 years. She was also involved in numerous community activities, such as a member of the Homemakers Club, and a 4-H leader, Donor’s Choice and arranged Community College classes. She is very active in the Anglican Church, Order of the Eastern Star, president of the Dysart Museum and volunteers at the Dysart Library. Genealogy is one of her favorite pastimes.
John & Gladys have traveled to many parts of the world including Ireland (numerous times) and Romania where they visited their parent’s original homes. Other parts of Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, southern U.S.A. and across Canada have been part of their holidays.
John & Gladys’ daughter Patricia Susan was born Feb. 10th, 1950 and son, Brian John was born Nov. 21st, 1954. Like most parents they became involved with after school activities and their education.
Patricia Susan was born at the General Hospital in Regina where her mother, was one of approximate 14 women in a room. After 10 days in hospital, they traveled home by train from Regina to Dysart, then by closed-in cutter and horses to McDonald Hills where her Dad worked.
The family moved into the Village of Dysart in Aug. 1950 and resided in a suite of rooms at the back of Grohs’ Hall. From main-street they moved to Holland Street in 1953 and lived in a tiny house beside the Glass family. Carol and Pat became friends. Her brother, Brian, born in 1954 became friends with Carol’s sister, Bonnie.
In 1957 the Joe Zatylny family of David, Vernon, Gerald, Garry, Joe and Donna moved to the neighborhood.
Many hours were spent playing catch on the street, hopscotch on the sidewalks play-acting in the back yards, anti-anti-I-over in the alleys, learning to ride 2-wheel bicycles, a pick-up game of 500, snow tunnels in the winter and generally being outside and always moving around.
Pat started school in 1956 and attended the little blue one-room schoolhouse in Dysart (where Quinn and Tammy Grohs now live in 2005). Her first teacher was Miss Mugford (who married Ralph Patterson of Dysart).
Throughout her school years she enjoyed taking part in most activities offered to the youth. She also played the accordion and continues to do so.
Garry Zatylny, born Aug. 14, 1950, moved with his family in October 1957 to Dysart His Dad bought the corner gas station on main-street and started an equipment dealership there. He lived on Holland St. and became good friends with Don Petrar. Garry was an avid figure skater throughout his teens. He passed his dance and free skate programs and recalls Rosella Gibson traveling throughout the southern part of the province taking him and others to test days. He also played minor hockey and belonged to the Roman Catholic Youth Group. In 1965 Garry also became a committed member of4-H. He enjoyed the pursuits of Outdoorsman and Mechanic and to this day loves fishing and the outdoors.
Pat graduated in 1968 from Dysart High School and attended university in Regina for 2 years and obtained her Standard Teaching Certificate. In the meantime, Garry had joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1969 and took his basic training in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He was posted to CFB Borden and CFB Trenton as an aircraft technician. He worked on the Prime Minister’s aircraft- at that time it was Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Garry was stationed in Trenton when the War Measures Act was invoked for the only time, out of a war situation, in Canada with the FLQ crisis.
Garry and Pat became engaged in Detroit at the Maxim home-relatives of the Petrar’s. Pat returned home to teach in Dysart and Garry stayed in the east. He returned home in January 1971 to begin employment at his family’s business, Dysart Sales & Service, a farm equipment dealership.
They were married on August 7,1971 in St. Cuthbert Anglican Church with Father Jack Bull (Anglican) and Father Ken Greer (Roman Catholic) officiating. They were the first couple to be married in Dysart with two priests of different religions on the altar- they were always trend- setters! Pat continued to teach French and other subjects from Grade 7-12 in Dysart until 1973. Garry drove a school bus to pick up the children in the south. About this time they moved 6 miles north to the farm owned by Joe Zatylny, Carry’s dad. They moved back into Dysart in 1975 and built the home they are living in now at 101 Victory St.
They have been so blessed in their marriage. Their first daughter, Nicole Susan, was born on December 23,1976 and was adopted in February 1977. A year later, on February 2, 1978 Amy Dawn arrived. What fun they were having! And then their third bundle of pink-Rebecca Simone- was born on March 30, 1981. The family was complete.
All three girls became community participants. They took part in figure skating, curling, 4-H, church pursuits- catechism and choir and more.
All of the girls did post-secondary education and then were married. Amy married Michael Bott of Dysart on June 5, 1999. They have welcomed Emily Dawn-July 5, 2000 and Katelynn Marie- March 12, 2003- to their family. Nicole (Nikki) married Ryan Czemeres of Dysart on July 17, 1999. Their little girl, Tara Nicole was welcomed on March 13, 2001. Both families live in the Dysart area so they are blessed, yet again, with little girls nearby. Rebecca (Becky) married Dean Schick of Yorkton on August 3,2002 They make their home in Yorkton where they both work. They have purchased a house and they are making it their home.
Garry and Pat go to work together every day at Dysart Sales & Service on Highway 22. Their shop was just rebuilt because the one built by Carry’s Dad in 1968, burned to the ground in June 2001. That was a challenge to their abilities. But they rebuilt and continue to offer services to area farmers.
They have lost people close to them -Carry’s folks, Joe in 1996, Vera in 2003, his brother Theodore in 1982 and Vern in 1995 and his grandnephew, Joseph in 1995.
Garry and Pat share the philosophy that the purpose of their time here on earth is to make life pleasant for themselves and those around them. To this purpose they continue to offer their time, talent, and money to many causes. The celebration of Saskatchewan’s Centennial is indeed a time to reflect on the past and place their hope in the future. Then- legacies must live on.
Brian grew up in town and was always interested in the natural sciences. He was an active 4-H member and leader in the 4-H Junior Sportsman program and was also involved in high school sports. Brian held many part time jobs while growing up in Dysart including working at the grain elevators, for local farmers and for the town.
He completed the Renewable Resource Program at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences in Saskatoon after graduating from high school. He received his diploma in 1974 and started working as a Conservation Officer with the British Columbia Fish and Game Branch in Quesnel, B.C.
During his four years in Quesnel, he met and married, Heidi Bettcher. She had grown up on a farm close to Quesnel and had been actively involved with horse activities most of her life. Heidi loved to sketch and paint from the time she was a child, an interest that would serve her well later in life. Brian and Heidi’s first child, a daughter, Dara, was born in Quesnel in 1976.
The family moved to Atlin, B.C. where Brian became the District Conservation Officer in 1978. Although isolated, being a two hour drive on gravel roads to Whitehorse, Yukon, the closest city, it was a great place to live and work. Their second child, Jarett, was born in Whitehorse (which had the closest hospital) in 1979. Heidi still recalls when Brian had to stop on the drive in at 2:00 AM while she was in labour so he could watch a cow and calf moose in the moonlight in the ditch and see the salmon jumping in the Yukon River.
The family pulled up stakes and moved to Queen Charlotte City on the Queen Charlotte Islands in November, 1981. The eight hour ferry trip to the islands from Prince Rupert was horrible, and most of the passengers and crew were seasick due to rough water in Hecate Strait.
Another move came in 1983 with a new job as the District Conservation Officer in Fort St. John, B.C. Heidi became involved with raising, showing and handling German Shepherd dogs. Dara and Jarett were both into elementary school by this time and participated in the usual school activities as well as helping to look after and feed the livestock at home. Heidi and Brian eventually built a boarding kennel facility on the property and that, along with pet grooming, became Heidi’s full time job for the duration of their stay in Fort St. John.
Warmer climates beckoned and the family was off again in 1986, this time due south to Creston, 7 miles from the U.S. border. Acreage country again and soon horses were back as part of their life.
Their last move in B.C. was to Nelson in 1990. Heidi started working in retail floral sales in Nelson and the kids carried on with school, sports and skiing. Dara traveled to Japan while living in Nelson on a student exchange program. She learned a lot about Japanese culture while there.
Brian’s experience and additional training that had been provided by B.C. gave him the opportunity to take employment with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Saskatoon in November 1992.
Another piece of property was located out of town – eighty acres this time. Brian and Heidi have been living on the same property since they moved from Nelson. Brian still enjoys his job and travels extensively. All the family members have been able to join him on some of his working trips at one time or another to Mexico, Ireland and many trips to the U.S.
Heidi took her artistic interests and retail floral designing skills and opened her own store. Willow Wisp, on Avenue B in Saskatoon in 1996. The business flourished and she eventually relocated to a busy development on 8th Street in 2002. Currently the store employs three people, one of them being Dara, who quite enjoys working full time alongside her mother. The store sells home decor, handmade furniture, floral and garden supplies and handmade crafts.
Dara attended the University of Saskatchewan after graduating from high school and is working towards an Arts Degree. Dara met the love of her life in 2001 and married David Black of Saskatoon in September, 2003. Most of the Petrar family was able to attend the wedding at the Sheraton hotel in Saskatoon. Dara was particularly proud that she had both sets other grandparents at the wedding and David had both his grandfathers’ attend. David is an Environmental Scientist and works for Seacor Environmental in Saskatoon. Dara and David’s first child, Dylan, was born on May 23′, 2004.
Jarett graduated from high school in 1997 and has worked at numerous vocations and attended the University of Saskatchewan. He is an accomplished carpenter and has worked alongside his mom in creating pieces for her store. In 2004, he completed the Resources and Environmental Law program at Woodlands Institute, Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences in Prince Albert. He hopes to obtain employment as a Fisheries Officer or Conservation Officer after he completes two more years of his program at another educational institution. He worked in Manitoba for the federal and provincial governments on student employment programs in 2003 and 2004.
Maria Petrar was born Feb. 21, 1926 at Dysart, Sask., attended Gardiner School and worked at the farm until leaving for Regina in 1942 when she was 16 years old, to find work. She found employment at R. Simpsons Ltd., then at Capital Cleaners. She married John George of Southey, Sask. at St. George Romanian Orthodox Church, Dysart on October 24,1948. Maria worked as a cook at Sherwood Cafeteria for 19 years. She was a member of The Canadian Order of Foresters for 40 years and President of St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church Ladies Auxiliary for 32 years. During that time she was fortunate to attend conventions in 13 different states of the USA.
Her husband, John, was a driver for Imperial Oil for 32 years and received an accident free award for 2 million miles in 1977. He was also very active in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and at the Romanian Club as a volunteer. John passed away on Feb. 1,2004. John & Maria have two daughters. Donna and Beverley.
Donna Marie was born in April, 1953 and grew up in Regina. She is married to Bryce Miller and they live in Regina.
Beverley Faye was born in February 1955 and raised in Regina. She married George Richard Maxim in August 1973.
George was born to George and Anne Maxim in Windsor, Ontario in 1950. The family relocated to Detroit, Michigan when George was an infant and lived there until deciding to return to Canada in 1971.
Their first daughter, Suzanne, was born in 1978, followed by a second daughter Stephanie in 1986 and a son, Robert in 1988.
Life seemed perfect until the early 1990’s when Stephanie began showing signs of illness. After much searching, a diagnosis of a rare neurological condition known as Batten Disease was given. Batten Disease is genetically transmitted, and Robert was subsequently diagnosed with the same condition. Sadly, there was no treatment or cure. Robert passed away in 1996 at age 8, and Stephanie passed away in 1999, at age 12.
George, Bev and Suzanne decided to improve circumstances for other families affected by Batten Disease, and formed the Canadian Chapter of the Batten Disease Support and Research Association in 1994. They have made research into the cause, treatment and ultimate cure of this terrible condition a labor of love in memory of Stephanie and Robert. Through their efforts, along with the efforts of many other Canadians with family members affected by Batten Disease, the establishment of a DNA testing facility at Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital became a reality in 2004. The ultimate goal is to find a cure.
George and Bev found offering their time as volunteers to be rewarding, and have worked with several national and international charities. They also love to see the world. In 2003, they began doing volunteer work for the Canadian Co-operative Association in the country of Mozambique, Africa and intend to continue with this type of work through their retirement years to combine the rewards of volunteering with the love of travel.
George Petrar was born On Sept. 23, 1928 at Dysart, Sask. and attended Gardiner School until 1942. He worked with his father on the farm, rented his first quarter of land in 1949 from Dr. Rothwell, Regina, Sask. and purchased it in 1971. The first tractor purchased was a 101 Super Massey Harris after working with horses for many years.
In 1953 his parents purchased a house in Dysart and George remained on the farm His father still helped out at the farm. He became active in municipal affairs and was a councillor for the R. M. of Lipton for 16 years. He was also a board member of the McDonald Hills Telephone Co. for 16 years, a member of the local school board, a director of the Dysart Co-op, a board member of Echo Lodge and Shalom Nursing Homes and a Trustee for the Parkland Regional Library. As well, he served on the Dysart Recreation Board and Lipton Library Board.
He married Veronica Brodner, Dysart, Sask. on Oct. 25, 1958 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. Veronica is the daughter of Isidore and Helen Brodner from the Radant School district. She attended Radant School, Dysart High School and the convent at Lebret, Sask. She worked at Silverman’s Store in Dysart for one year. As well as being a very active helper at the farm during all seasons, Veronica was a 4-H leader, a Catechism teacher and an employee of the Touchwood Qu’Appelle Home Care for 18 years.
George and Veronica had three children – Dawn Marie, James Nicholas and Janice Anita. As they were growing up their parents became involved in their school and extra curriculum activities.
Dawn was born April 20,1960, attended Dysart School, was active in 4-H and numerous sports activities. She later took courses in Gardening and Landscaping, Small Appliance Repair, Electrical and Professional Cooking. She has spent many years employed by the City of Moose Jaw in various departments and is currently working in the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.
She married Peter Rumancik of Lipton and they have two sons Joel (1984) and Mark (1987). They have made Moose Jaw their home since 1979.
Peter worked for the City of Moose Jaw for 20 years in the Water & Sewer Distribution System. Since 2000 he has been employed with the Five Hills Health Region as a Bio- Med Technologist.
Joel, after graduating in May 2002, is attending Lethbridge Community College in the Criminal Justice program. Mark is currently attending High School in Moose Jaw.
James, born Jan. 9, 1963 grew up on the Nicolai Petrar farm and attended Dysart School. He graduated in 1981. During that time he participated in many sports and activities including 4-H, volleyball, curling and hockey. He is still a very avid player and spectator of hockey. After graduation, he was employed by Canada Post and then the City of Regina for 14 years.
He married Cori Dumba of Dysart on June 27, 1987. Cori also grew up in Dysart and graduated in 1982. She also participated in many activities such as piano, volleyball, skating and curling. Following some post-secondary courses she began employment with Sask. Tel and continues to work there.
Nicholas was born on August 15,1993 and currently attends Lipton School. He enjoys many sports including swimming, soccer and most of all, hockey. Joelle was born February 22,1997 and also attends Lipton School. She enjoys sports including soccer swimming and figure skating.
In 1997 they moved to Dysart where James owns the original Nicolai farm. They are close to many family members and friends now.
Janice was born August 22,1967 and grew up on the family farm. After graduating from Dysart High School she completed the S.E.V.P. course in the Canadian Armed Forces primary reserve. She then attended the school of cosmetology, at Hair Design Academy in Moose Jaw.
She married Jeff Giesbrecht in June 9, 1990 and they resided in Saskatoon where they both worked. In June 1992 they ventured to the Northwest Territories where again they both found jobs. Their daughter, Allixandria was born March 1, 1993 in Yellowknife, NWT.
After living in the north for ten years they moved to Hinton, Alberta. Jeff continues to work for Diavik Diamond Mines in the NWT on a two-week in, two week out, rotation as supervisor in the recovery Process Plant. Janice after 16 years in the cosmetology field has decided to remain at home and do volunteer work.
Allix attends Gerard Redmond Catholic School and enjoys soccer, mountain hiking, swimming and making new friends.
Margaret Petrar was born June 20.1931 and attended Gardiner School. She, like her brothers and sister worked on the farm, milking cows, feeding chickens and pigs and other farm chores. Over the years she was employed at Sears and the Medical Arts building.
She married Ernest Kurtz of Southey, Sask. on August 23, 1958 in Grace Lutheran Church, Regina. Ernie and Margaret were the proprietors at the Dysart Recreation Center in 1973 – 1974. As well, Ernie worked at Sears, JR Stevenson’s and was a caretaker at the Sunset Towers before his retirement. The have one son, Darren Scott.
Darren Scott Kurtz, born to Ernest and Margaret Kurtz November 18,1960 at the Regina Grey Nuns Hospital. He attended Victoria and Connaught elementary schools and Balfour Technical School where he graduated in 1979.
Darren met Donna June Yauck in 1981 and they were married in May 1984. Darren and Donna had two sons – Ryan Kristoff and Brett Nicholas. Ryan was born March 9,1986, Brett followed on December 20,1989. Darren and Donna divorced in 1991.Darren moved to Calgary and spent some time working in B.C. while living in Calgary, and upon returning to Regina in 1993 met Sheila.
Sheila Pearl Shuflita was born in Edmonton Alberta May 25,1962 and moved with her family to Regina in 1976. Sheila attended 0’Neill High school and SIAST where she received her Registered Nursing degree.
Darren and Sheila were married August 9,1997 in Regina. Darren currently works for the city of Regina as an engineering assistant and Sheila is an ICU, RN at the Pasqua Hospital.
Ryan is currently in grade 12 and is planning to further his education in the field of aircraft engineering and hopefully pursue a career in commercial aviation. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets at age 13. He has travelled extensively throughout Canada and the US with air Cadets and currently holds his federal Glider Pilot and Instructor license and will attend flight school in the summer of 2004 to attain his private Pilots’ license.
Brett is in Grade 9 and hopes to pursue a career in design engineering. Currently he keeps very busy working at the tropical fish breeding business his family has and plans to breed miniature Dauchhounds as well. When Brett is not busy working or playing with his dog he also enjoys riding his dirt bike or playing school sports.
These are the descendants of Niculai and Domnica who immigrated to Canada to make a better life for themselves and who became part of the Canadian west. Family members have become living legends of the hardships endured and continue to play active parts in their own communities.
submitted by: Gladys Petrar and Rebecca Schick