Where Did They Settle?

Iwan and Maria had endured a harrowing journey by sea flanked by two seemingly endless train trips. But they were more fortunate in their immigration arrival than many pioneers.

When they arrived in Manitoba, they probably took one more train trip from Winnipeg to Ridgeville Manitoba. They were likely fearful that this trip was another one like the last. In 1903 the railway extended only as far as Ridgeville, Manitoba so the rest of their journey was probably by horse and wagon.

But they arrived into the company of people from their own villages, who spoke the same language, and who welcomed them warmly with willingness to share what meager resources there were.

Iwan and Maria arrived in May, most likely, a pleasant season in Manitoba, with none of the hints of summer heat, mosquitoes, hard work, and life-threatening winter to come. They lived with another family south of Gardenton Manitoba the first year where they buried their one-year-old baby. The next year they moved to their homestead at Sirko, Manitoba.

The land they acquired, in addition to their sturdiness and frail determination, allowed a strong family to develop and grow.

This whole landscape was not easy to make a living on but this family fared better than most. Their homestead had a sustaining variety of soil types, water, trees and other resources like a clay pit of white clay to plaster their square-timber house.

The south third of the farm was sandy loam and easy to cultivate; there was a patch of tall and straight jack pine. The north third was stony and useful for cattle pasture. Much of it was covered by second-growth poplar bush. In the middle of the farm there was a pond that retained water until late summer. There were ducks and geese and in the late summer a good quality swamp hay could be cut. West of the farmstead there was a patch of wild fruit trees, plums, pin cherries and chokecherries.

Their nearby neighbours who drew homesteads which were mostly swamp or fields of stones often gave up or just disappeared.

How many of our pioneer men cursed leaving the “old country” and how many women railed at their husbands for bringing them on this horrendous journey to this godforsaken land?

Iwan was known to be resourceful and strong. Maria was a strong woman who knew how to manage the resources available to her. But as you can see from the pictures of them over the years in front of their house, they never moved beyond living in their homestead house, a two-room cottage in the Bukovinian style in which children were created and born, where they raised their children, and where Iwan died 50 years after they immigrated.

For one person’s perspective and many photos see Living on the Homestead by Nick Andrusiak.