Segment Synopsis: Helen Fedorkiw, maiden name Leskiv, born near Spedden, AB, on a farm. Helen grew up there until age 13 and went to school in Spedden until grade 11, but there was no grade 12 there, so Helen came to Edmonton. In those days there was a Normal school, Helen entered and after one-year of study she got a teacher's certificate. When Helen attended Normal school, she resided in the Ukrainian Hrushevsky Institute. She was born in 1918. She worked as a teacher in different schools in the countryside, then married in 1946, then moved to Edmonton in 1955 and since then Helen lived and worked in Edmonton. Before Edmonton, she taught in different places: near Lac la Biche in Northern Alberta, it was a one-room school, and she had to teach grades from 1 to 8, and she also had to teach French (which she barely knew but managed somehow). Then Helen worked at Glendon, Vilna, then in Edmonton. She started teaching in 1939.
Map Coordinates: 53.55014, -113.46871
GPS: Locality: Spedden AB
Map Coordinates: 54.13347, -111.71854
GPS: Locality: Lac la Biche AB
Map Coordinates: 54.7669, -111.96861
GPS: Locality: Glendon AB
Map Coordinates: 54.2521, -111.15531
GPS: Locality: Vilna AB
Map Coordinates: 54.11637, -111.92015
Segment Synopsis: Helen's dad came to Canada in about 1908, he was about 16-17 years old. He worked in a coal mine and learned English very fast and even was teaching the new immigrants that came in. Helen's mother came over with his (Helen's father) parents in 1912, they were not married yet. Grandparents came just to visit. Before that in 1910 Helen's dad invited his younger brother to come. So, dad's parents came to visit him and his brother (because these were their only children) with all intentions to go back. Then the WWI broke out and it was impossible to go back. After the war was over, the two brothers were married and had children, and parents stayed with Helen's Dad and never visited Ukraine. Which is such a pity because now people fly over anytime but it was not like that in their time. Helen's grandma used to say that she would go back if only to die there. But they all died here and are buried on the Orthodox cemetery in Spedden.
Segment Synopsis: From the mother's family, she alone came over on the same boat as dad's parents, and she married dad at the end. But then she sent for her sisters but only one came over from about 12 siblings; the rest all stayed in Ukraine. How did they came out about Canada? - They probably received a letter from Ukrainian immigrants. Helen's dad was always curious and wanted to come, and he did, and was among the first. After him and his parents a lot of Ukrainians came. There was not Spedden then, only forest. Dad bought a homestead, 160 acres of land for 10 dollars. Nobody knows how they survived but they did... Helen's dad moved to this locality for some reason - the poorest farm lands - Helen doesn't know why he had chosen this place. He ran a farm and later he moved closer to Spedden and got a job as a secretary in the Vilna municipality. At that time he was the sole person who was looking after the entire area. He was also the secretary of every school in the district. He was a great leader, people came for advice and everything. In Ukraine Helen's parents were born in Yastrubytsi, Sokal'sky povit, L'viv region. But grandparent came there from a neighbour village.
Segment Synopsis: On the farm Helen grew up with her grandparents and her mother and siblings. They wanted to live on the farm while Dad worked in Vilna and came home on weekends. Helen has an older sister, a younger brother and a younger sister. Ancestry - she considers herself Canadian Ukrainian, but more Canadian because she grew up here.
Segment Synopsis: For breakfast Helen's family had porridge, toast, eggs; for lunch - pyrohy, Baba made them. As for supper, at wintertime they usually had meat because it could be frozen; in Summer they ate chicken, geese, turkey, they had them all on the farm, also vegetables of all kinds. They made sauerkraut and preserved cucumbers for winter, also had potatoes, carrots etc.
Segment Synopsis: Helen's family had the 12 dishes on Ukrainian Christmas eve. Kutia to start with, pyrohy, holubtsi, sauerkraut, mushrooms, fruits for dessert. Kutia was thrown up to the ceiling indeed but only when Helen was a kid at the farm. Grandad used to do this. But it did not continue when they got their homes. Helen can't recall how he explained the sense of this but she supposes it related to wheat as the main value. But why to throw it up - she doesn't really know... They did have a Christmas tree in later years, but not when Helen was 5-6 years old. And yes, they had a straw under the table on Christmas eve. They went carolling, it was such a happy time! They would go by sleigh because there were no cars in those days, so they had sleigh, horses, took peryna with them, because it was cold! And then went out and carolled. Not really for the money, she cannot remember any money but just to visit neighbours. Carollers were hosted with food and even drinks, when they were older. They did not go from house to house. Today one has to ask permission for coming and carolling but that time they did not ask for a permission.
Segment Synopsis: In the store, they bought sugar, salt... Later on they bought meat in the summer from the store that had a cooler. Also rice, buckwheat, barley, flour. Before stores came, they made their own flour from the wheat on the flour-mill, Helen remembers this. But later they bought it in store, in the 1930s. On a farm, they produced wheat, oats, rye, flax - for making threads and oil. Also konopli, also for oil, especially for Christmas time. As for cloths, they wore dresses and coats for the winter and laced boots. Adults had other kind of boots, they called them valyonki. Helen's aunt used to saw dresses when kids were little, and later on they bought them in stores and via Eaton's catalogues. How often - she can't remember but they always had new clothes and shoes for Christmas.
Segment Synopsis: Helen's chores included milking cows, and she hated this. That is why she went to school because she did not want to get stuck on a farm milking cows. Helen did not mind doing anything else. Helen did not work in the field as a child, the only kid's work was picking rocks in the field. But that was playing for them, they played with stones! Also mother never let kids work in the garden, she did all the garden work. But cleaning house was children's job, and helping prepare food. Gender difference? -yes! In Helen's family, the men / boys never milked the cows, they worked in a field and took care of the horses. The girls did the house work and took care of the chickens, turkey, like that.