Swizinski Steve and Julia

1RWiconweb_298.gifSTEVE SWIZINSKI

I came to Canada from Poland in 1926 and worked on the farm of 0. Melnyk, Landonville, for a year to pay back my passport. In 1927 there was a demand for labour when the Canadian Pacific Railroad was being laid between Rusylvia and Clandonald. I got on that gang and worked there for a year.

That same year my girl friend, Julia Kozak, from back home, came to Canada and stayed with her relatives in Vegreville for awhile. She later got a job as chambermaid in the Brunswick Hotel in Vermilion. We resumed our courtship and consequently got married in February, 1928. In the spring of that year the railroad gang moved north to Grande Prairie, so I went along. I helped lay tracks to Beaverlodge and Pouce Coupe, B.C., leaving my wife behind, still working at the hotel.

At the end of that year I came back, bought a farm from the C.P.R. in the Primula district, and tried to assemble some kind of home for us. There was no house anywhere near, so Julia kept working until I was able to build our first two-room cabin.

By the spring of 1929 I brought her home, and slowly we did our pioneer farming. My wife worked at my side daily, and, along with a couple horses and much back work, we paid off our farm. We never did become big farmers; just maintained that one quarter and used horse machinery until about '48 or '49, when I splurged and bought my only tractor. We drove a horse and buggy to Heinsburg for our weekly shopping 'til 1951, when I bought a half-ton Ford. I used it until last year, when a young fellow ran into it in St. Paul and wrecked it.

Entertainment in the old days wasn't much; we made our own fun. Many a night I'd go over to our nearest neighbors, the Bucks, and about four of five of us played poker all night. The winner could come out 15 cents richer. Later on, when the Gratz Temple Hall was built, it was a weekly outing for us to go there. Since this hall was built on A. Melnyk's farm, he thought he had to feed the whole community, as well as bed their horses. So, besides being at the event, we also got a good meal and visit with our friends.

Soon both my wife's and my own health began failing, so we sold the farm and moved to Elk Point in 1963. While here, I picked up all sorts of handy man jobs, just to keep myself from being bored. I did everything from janitoring in the garages to tending gardens, mowing lawns, fixing steps, and even looked after the ball diamond for the town for awhile. Last year Julia passed away, after being in and out of hospital for three years. I still live here, getting my meals from the Meals-on-Wheels Program, which I enjoy. I had planned to go back to my native land for a visit, but somehow never did make it and am not well enough now.