Thankful For Their Sacrifices

I know many of you tirelessly work at collecting family histories.  Dusting off the past with hopes of unraveling their stories. What we’re able to learn, is so often found in a stale vault, library or archive. That’s why the “Ukrainian Pioneer Centenary Recognition Program”  is so unique.

My journey to the past has revealed that my Great Grandparents Nikolia & Waselina (Nick & Elena) settled in Alberta back in 1900. (Then, The Dominion Lands of Canada as Alberta only became a province on September 1, 1905). They arrived in the spring of 1899 in Halifax via a ship boarded in Hamburg, Germany. Their long journey began in Bukovina, then a part of the Austrian Empire. I’d be keen to know how they got to Hamburg.  Did they walk?  Was there a train? Those details seem lost to history.

Like so many Ukrainian immigrants, they came for the promise of free land. A plan set in motion by the railroad, to occupy the vast, unsettle west. It was a five-year process. A homesteader had to give proof of consistent residency on the land and  show a specific number of acres where being worked. Without farm equipment, this was all done by hand, manual labour.  Here’s my Great Grandfather’s Title to the land, granted by the Alberta Government in 1906, what a proud day that must have been.

They came with very few tools, no money and didn’t know english. How daunting would that be?  In most cases these new comers had no house to call home.  Yet they were not deterred.  Three generations later I’m here to acknowledge their perseverance.  Sadly, I haven’t any photo’s of them to share, but their son John, my grandfather, also continued to raise his family in the same area. Here they are on the farm in the Mid 40’s

My dad George is far left, Grandpa John is centre.

 My Dad’s Brother John stands far right and his mom Anne (my Grandma) is on his left.

My Dad George with brothers John and Metro

The traditions they fostered in their own families continue to be a strong influence for many of us today. With that,  multi-generations gathered at the Ukrainian Cultural Village in August to accept a Pioneer Certificate, re-kindle family relations and enjoy traditional music, dance and of course some delicious food. It’s also a chance to show gratitude and be thankful for their sacrifices.

Please join me tommorrow, for a tour of the Ukrainian Cultural Village.  A unique glimpse into the past, where my family’s story began.

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
― Gaylord Nelson

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14 thoughts on “Thankful For Their Sacrifices

  1. What a wonderful story! You did a beautiful job of capturing the historical facts — but also of illustrating the emotional side of immigrants’ lives. Can you imagine the courage it took to leave their home, knowing they’d never see their loved ones again, and to set off across an ocean? I don’t think many of us today would have that kind of mettle. But look at the beautiful family that bloomed from their sacrifice and hard work! You’ve given your family (and the rest of us who are interested in history of genealogy) a real gift by writing this post.


    1. Thank you so very much dear ! It really is hard to imagine having that kind of hutzpa! But I guess even today, many families are making long and dangerous journeys to find a better life for their families. My Great Grandparents is why I have such regard for immigrants. Really, it’s where we all come from unless you’re decendents of first nations. People sure seem to forget that. We’re so lucky for the way we are able to live. I feel blessed every day. xx

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      1. Isn’t it sad how many people forget that their ancestors were immigrants — sometimes just a couple of generations ago? Especially here in the United States, where our immigrant roots have (historically) been such a point of pride. I’m frankly surprised the French haven’t asked us to send back the Statue of Liberty considering how contrary the rhetoric is to the values of acceptance Lady Liberty espouses. Sigh. You also make an excellent point that people continue to make treacherous journeys even today. You and I are indeed SO LUCKY for the way we’re able to live. What a beautiful sentiment … xx

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  2. I am taking a wild guess how your ancestors traveled to Hamburg. There was a train going from Chernivtsi (Bukovyna’s capital city) to other major European cities. People got their ship/boat tickets in advance from a travel agency in Chernivtsi. They literally sold everything they owned to be able to buy tickets for their families. This building still exist there, it houses a movie theater these days. There is a plaque mounted there commemorating Ukrainian immigration to Canada. Chernivtsi is my home town, I’ll be going there in April and be sure to take a picture of the plaque.


    1. Gasp, you can’t imagine how much I appreciate that information….thank you from the bottom of my heart. My Aunty has a manifest for the ship, listing my great grandparents and their children, I think it was from Hamburg, but we didn’t know this information about Chernivtsi….how utterly amazing that you are from this town. I’m so excited for you to be traveling back there, and I can’t wait to see all your pictures and stories. OMG, I’m so happy you’ve come by, thank you so much. I’m going to copy my Aunty right now!!! xK


        1. Very exciting Kat! Thanks for including links back to Chernivtsi website in your post, I can’t wait to share this with my Aunty. You’re so kind to go the extra distant and share this. I absolutely can’t wait to see all the pictures! Wonderful!!!


  3. How wonderful to know that much about your ancestry. It’s amazing how hard people worked and the conditions they put up with. Our physical lives are so much easier now, both good and bad I suppose given obesity issues. What must it have been like to live during that time. Nice!


    1. The one picture I saw of my Great Grandfather was at my Great Grandmothers funeral, it’s a horse and cart hearse and he’s standing near by, looking very tired and worn out. You could tell even the sunday wear clothes had seen hard times. They did not have easy lives, I feel extremely blessed. I think it would have been better for their children, and then grand children (my dad). Every generation succeeds a little more……..that’s a good way to honor their sacrifice I suppose. I hope to organize all my research neatly someday soon. Have you done any geology?


      1. That’s a good way to look at it. And of course most parents want their children to have better lives than they did. I think it’s human nature to strive for more…whatever. And through that we evolve.

        I’ve not dabbled into genealogy. It fascinates me…but I’ve just not taken the time. How did you get started?


        1. We got started thru the “Pioneer Program” at this village. My Aunty and I did it together since our families all lived in the area. You can get a lot of information off a Census and Land Titles. “Who Do You Think You Are” is one of my favorite programs. A series of stories, they’d help a ‘well known’ celebrity find out about the family histories. Rita Wilson, Gwenyth Paltrow, Martin Sheen and so many more. Executive Produced by Lisa Kudru, Phebe on Friends…she was the Premier episode. I’ve learned a lot of tips watching.

          Here’s their link


Talk nerdy to me………..

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