Fonds 480 Nicolas and Erena Woronuk fonds

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Summary information

Repository: South Peace Regional Archives
Title: Nicolas and Erena Woronuk fonds
Reference code: 0480
Date: [ca. 1973] (date of creation)
Physical description: 1 cm of textual records
Dates of creation, revision and deletion: Processed in January 2013

Added to new database Nov. 2021 – SF

Note: Family history is in library book, “Wheat Fields and Wild Flowers”.

Administrative history / Biographical sketch


Nicolas Woronuk was born May 1, 1889, in the village of Onut, province of Bukovyna, Austria. In the late 1890s, his uncle emigrated to Canada and settled in Gardenton, Manitoba. He was followed by Nicolas’ sisters and their husbands in 1903, and Nicolas’ father, George, in 1904. In two years George earned enough money to provide passage for his son, and Nicolas arrived in Canada May 6, 1906. Unfortunately, due to delays in his lengthy trip, his mother heard rumors that he had died at sea and she died of shock. In 1910, the remainder of George Woronuk’s children, a son Simon and two younger daughters, also came to Arabaka, MB.

Nick worked in logging camps, on farms and on the railroad, and by 1911 had saved $700. On November 12, 1911, he married Erena Lazoruk. Erena was born Nov. 16, 1894 in the village of Tovtry, Bukovyna, Austria. She came to southern Manitoba with her parents in 1903. Soon after their marriage, Nicolas and his brother-in-law, Mike Lazoruk, began to prospect for better land, and in 1913 chose some river lots in the Rycroft area. On September 12, 1913, five families began their trek to the Peace country: Nicholas and Erena Woronuk with their infant son; Nicholas and Sophia Lazoruk with four children; Michael and Dora Lazoruk with two children; Stephen and Elena Chalus with an infant son; and Yakiw amd Wasylena Lazoruk, the parents of these young couples.

When Nick, Elena and their one-year old son, George, arrived at their homestead in Late November, 1913, their joy at finishing an arduous journey was replaced with the prospects of a bleak, cold winter. Their cash was gone, their milk cow had died on the trail, and they had no food or milk for their child and only tents for shelter. They were very grateful to the Alexander family who helped by giving them some wheat and straw for feed and bedding. In January, 1914, after building a shelter for the oxen and a log shack to live in, the four husbands and four teams of oxen travelled back to Edson to pick up the cargo they had left in storage, returning in March.

In the fall of 1914, Nicolas returned to Edson on foot to guide his father, who had also left Manitoba to settle in Rycroft. Their first crop, in 1914, was hit by frost but enough was salvaged to provide relief, and gradually their hopes for a better life were realized. As the railway progressed westward and then south to Grande Prairie in 1916, it sliced through Grandfather George Woronuk’s homestead on river lot 39. On the southern section of that divided lot, the hamlet of Rycroft took shape. In 1924, Nick Lazoruk and Nick Woronuk purchased a Case steam engine and started a business threshing crops in the area. Nick and Erena bought more land and in 1929 they built a new Aladdin home.

Nick and Erena had five sons who received their educations at local schools and went on to further education. George and Alex became teachers and businessmen, William a successful farmer, and Merose and John were, both dentists. Nick passed away in 1957, and Erena in 1991.

Custodial history

The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives in 2011 by Dr. Jaroslav Petryshyn, former history instructor at Grande Prairie Regional College, an authority on Ukrainian settlement in the Canadian West, and author of “Peasants in the Promised Land”.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of two copies of a biographical account of Nicholas (Nylolai) Woronuk and family, written in Ukrainian by a niece, Mrs. John Bzovey of Rycroft. The document was typed and and edited by I. Goresky, of Edmonton, and tells of the family’s epic journey from Edson to Grande Prairie in 1913. Included in the fonds are a shorter account of the story, in English, as published in “Ukrainians in Alberta”; additional hand written accounts from the Woronuk family in English and Ukrainian; and a letter from I. Goresky to Dr. Jerry Petryshyn referencing the history of Ukrainians in Alberta, and especially the Woronuk family.