Fonds 604 Joan Margel fonds

Joan Margel fonds. — 1997-1998. — 41 sound recordings.

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Biographical Sketch

Joan Margel (nee Bayers) was born in the Prestville area east of Rycroft, Alberta. After her father, John Bayers, died in when she was a small child, her mother married Jack Sandul and moved to his Yellow Creek homestead. In 1942 the family moved into the Village of Rycroft while Jack’s trucking company, Sandul’s Transport, was employed building the Alaska Highway. After training as a teacher, Joan taught in a one-room school in the Rycroft area, then in a larger school in Windsor, Ontario where she met and married Joe Margel. After two sons were born, they returned to Rycroft to establish a T.V. business. Here two daughters were born. Later they moved on to Edmonton with their four children, where Joe taught electronics and Joan taught school. As a retired teacher, Joan became involved with The Alberta Women’s Memory Project. She has interviewed many elders in the Rycroft area about their family histories and the history of the community.

Custodial History

The oral histories were deposited at South Peace Regional Archives by Joan Margel in 2010.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of copies of 41 audio cassettes of oral histories from pioneer families recorded by Joan Margel in 1997-1998. The inidviduals interviewed are Jack Sandul, Pauline (Swerediuk) Nedohin, Bill Bayers, Rooth (English) McBride, Mary (Shewchiw) Bayers, Magda Burechailo, Bill Chalus, Dolly (Lazoruk) Kushernyk, Anne (Sandul) Bahry, Elsie Burechailo, Lillian (Zahara) Lazoruk, Ted Kwasnica, John Lazoruk, Pete Kushneruk, Bill Woronuk, Jack Sandul. While most of the interviews were conducted in the Rycroft area, some are from related family members in Wakaw, Saskatchewan.

The original tapes are in the holdings of the Provincial Archives of Alberta, and a second set are in the University of Alberta Ukranian Archives. These copies are for access only. Reproductions must be requested from the Provincial Archives. Biographies of the interviewees are included in the finding aid.


Acquisition note: Accession 2010.39.
Historical note: Information for Joan Margel’s biography on “The Alberta Women’s Memory Project”; information for the other biographies from “Wheatfields and Wildflowers” published by the Rycroft History Book Committee, 1984.
Copyright: Retained for access only. Previously deposited at the Provincial Archives of Alberta and the University of Alberta Ukrainian Archives, therefore copyright does not belong to SPRA.

Anne Bahry (nee Sandul), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Anne Bahry (nee Sandul) by Joan Margel in July 1997. Anne Bahry was born March 26, 1922 to Onufry “Fred” and Maria (Blonski) Sandul. Fred had immigrated from Bukovina with his parents to Manitoba in 1900, and moved on to Rycroft in the Peace River Country in 1913, when he was 18 years of age. In 1921 he went back to Stuartburn, Manitoba and met Maria, whom he married in 1923. They moved back to the Rycroft area where they acquired lots on the Spirit River. Anne was Fred and Maria’s oldest child; then came Hanna, James, and another brother who died at two years of age. In all there were eight children, six of whom survived. Anne Bahry died Dec 22, 2014 at the age of 92 years. The interview includes Anne’s memories of the pioneer lifestyle of her childhood and the different Ukrainian customs they kept. She says, “We called ourselves Canadian Ukrainians.”
Location: 2010.39.01-02
Mary Bayers (nee Shewchiw), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Mary Bayers (nee Shewchiw) by Joan Margel in July 1997. Mary Bayers was born in the Ukraine on January 7, 1924, and came to Canada with her mother in 1927. Her father had come a year previous, sponsored by a farmer in Innisvale. In 1928 they moved on to Rycroft, where her father took a homestead at Prestville and worked on the railroad. Three more children were born on the homestead, but none survived infancy, and Mary grew up as an only child. When she was 10 years old, her mother was institutionalized because of problems caused by an old brain injury. At age 15 she finished at Prestville School and spent a few years at home. In 1942 Mary married William (Bill) Bayers, a soldier from Prestville on leave, and spent the remaining war years with him at Halifax, then Calgary. During this time Shirley was born. After the war they returned to the Rycroft area to farm for many years. In their later years they moved to Stony Plain, AB. The couple had two daughters: Shirley (William) Uhryn and Jeanette (Erie) Scratch. Mary Bayers died October 27, 2000. The interview covers genealogical details and stories about the Shewchiw family; the story of Mrs. Shewchiw, who was institutionalized because of a brain injury in 1935; immigration from Ukraine; beginnings at Rycroft; the homes they lived in and how they were built; preservation and storage of vegetables over winter; salting of meat for the winter; building fences from poplar wood with no wire; drying saskatoons; working for relief money during the depression; Mary’s life after her mother was gone and the kindness of the neighbours; cooking, preserving and winemaking; her courtship and marriage to Bill Bayers; the war years in Halifax; making feather quilts; and the community at Rycroft. Threaded throughout are memories of different people and neighbouring farmers in the Rycroft area.
Location: 2010.39.03-04
William (Bill) Bayers,
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of four 60 minute tapes recording an interview of William (Bill) Bayers by Joan Margel in July 1997. Bill Bayers was born in the Ukraine to George and Mary (Rudeichuk) Bayers on July 22, 1918. The family immigrated to Canada and settled in Wakaw, Saskatchewan, but moved on to the Prestville district east of Rycroft in 1929. Bill attended school at Wakaw and Prestville and later enlisted with the engineers in World War II. After initial training in Grande Prairie he was sent out to Halifax and worked on the base until the end of the war. In 1942, he married Mary Shewchiw, also from Prestville, and they spent the remaining war years in Halifax. After the war they farmed in the Rycroft area for many years before moving to Stony Plain, AB. The couple had two daughters: Shirley (William) Uhryn and Jeanette (Erie) Scratch. Bill died October 8, 2006. The interview covers many aspects of family, home, farming and working out, including Bill’s work for the Northern Alberta Railway, on threshing crews and in sawmills. He also recalls the Bayer’s family move from Wakaw to Prestville when he was 8 years old and the buildings and businesses which made up Rycroft when they came in 1929.
Location: 2010.39.05-08
Elsie Burechailo,
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Elsie Burechailo by Joan Margel in August 1997. The interview covers a description of the family homestead on the shores of Wakaw Lake in Saskatchewan; Elsie’s grandparents, the first generations of Burechailos to come to Canada; and the hardships of the first Ukrainian immigrants.
Location: 2010.39.09-10
Magda Burechailo (nee Rudeichuk), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of three 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Magda Burechailo by Joan Margel in August 1997. Magdalina Burechailo was born on October 5, 1914 on a homestead in Tarnopol, Saskatchewan, to Tykyna and Nykolai Rudeichuk. She was the second child in the family, after sister Marie (Mary) and followed by twins Helen and Anna, Edward, and Nick. Anna died in the 1918 Influenza epidemic. Magda went to the one-room school at Bonne Madone. Soon after she finished school the Depression started, and since there were no jobs, she and her siblings lived at home and helped with the farm work. Finally, in 1939, Magda found a job on the kitchen staff at the Ann Turnbull Hospital. On November 24, 1941 Magda married George Burechailo, a maintenance man at the hospital. They farmed with George’s parents on the shores of Wakaw Lake, for a few years, then moved to Toronto where they both worked at Simpsons. Magda joined the activities at the Ukrainian Labour Temple. After they retired, they moved back to Wakaw. The interview covers topics such as their family reunion, food preservation in her childhood, interactions with the First Nations people, childbirth and family, customs in the home, Ukrainian name changes, religions, and immigration.
Location: 2010.39.11-13
William (Bill) Chalus, 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of three 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Bill Chalus by Joan Margel in July 1997. Wlliam Chalus was born February 8, 1908 in Arbakka, Manitoba to Stephen and Elena Chalus. They had come to Canada from the Ukraine in 1902 looking for farm land. The land in Manitoba was marginal, so in 1913 they left for the Peace River along with Elena’s parents. They arrived in November, too late to build a house, so they lived in a tent that winter. In l914 they moved to the NW 23-78-5 W6th. Bill attended Greenway School and later Rycroft School. His education ended when he was 15, after his father was injured by a horse and Bill was needed to help with the farming. They farmed with horses but bought a tractor in 1928; that was the start of the change to mechanized farming. Combines became more widely used during the war when labor was very scarce. Bill also owned a threshing machine and threshed for 19 years. In 1935, Bill married Sophie Hudema. After the marriage ended in 1942, he married Ingrid Moll who had moved to Rycroft to start a hairdressing business. Bill was very active in the Rycroft community, including as a member of the Rycroft Elks Lodge, building the first hall in Rycroft, and the first telephone line. Bill Chalus died in Spirit River in January 2007 at the age of 97. The interview covers the experiences of the Chalus family after they came to Canada, Bill’s schooling at Greenway and Rycroft, farming at Rycroft, early roads and transportation, and Bill’s involvement with the community at Rycroft.
Location: 2010.39.14-16
Dolly Kushneryk (nee Lazoruk),
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Dolly Kushneryk (nee Lazoruk) by Joan Margel in August 1997. Dolly Lazoruk was the daughter of Metro and Domka (Dora) Lazoruk who arrived in the Rycroft district on November 21, 1913. At that time there was no such place as Rycroft, and the whole area was known as the Spirit River area. They were among the earliest Ukrainian settlers, most of whom arrived after 1927, which is when the Rycroft area was more heavily settled. The children attended school at Rycroft. Around 1932, Dolly married Metro Kushneryk from Wakaw, Saskatchewan. They farmed there with Metro’s parents, with the idea that when the parents were gone, they would return to Rycroft. Twenty years and six childen later, Baba Kushneryk was still living with Metro and Dolly and their roots were firmly planted there. Their six children were John, born in 1933; Anne born in1934; twins Mike and Mary born in 1937; and twins Roman and Ronny born in1942. When Metro retired from farming, the farm continued under their son Roman. The interview covers Dolly and Metro’s courtship and marriage; Dolly’s cooking; the family and children; the family orchestra; and farming in Wakaw.
Location: 2010.39.17-18
Pete Kushneryk, 1998
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Pete Kushneryk by Joan Margel in April 1998. Peter Kushneryk was born March 8, 1923 to Wasyl (William) and Ksena (Jean ) Shawaduski in Cudworth, Saskatchewan. His father had immigrated to Canada in 1900 with his parents, Stefan and Katherina Kushneryk, from Verenchanka, Austria. When Peter was one month old, in April 1923, the family moved to the Greenway district near Rycroft. Peter attended Greenway School. In 1935 the family moved to the Yellow Creek area north of Spirit River, and after finishing school Peter continued to farm with his father. In 1945 he married Mary Hrisook, the daughter of John and Sophia Hrisook who had homesteaded in Yellow Creek in 1930. Peter and Mary bought Harry Andrechiw’s land at Blueberry Creek and created a farm of their own. They had three children: Betty born in 1947, Ken in 1954, and Ron in 1957. The children attended Blueberry Creek School until grade 9, and then high school in Spirit River. After farming for many years, Peter Kushneryk passed away in September 2000. The interview covers Peter and Mary’s marriage in Spirit River; medical problems initiating many trips to Edmonton for surgery and treatment;
Location: 2010.39.19-20
Ted Kwasnica, 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of three 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Ted Kwasnica by Joan Margel in August 1997. Ted Kwasnica was the second child born to Peter and Alexandria (nee Bayers) Kwasnica. His mother was also known as Alice or Sandy. His grandparents, George and Mary Bayers, had left the Ukraine because of poor living conditions, immigrating to Canada in 1901 and settling 2 1/2 miles southwest of Wakaw, Saskatchewan. Ted was born on their farm on May 11, 1925; his siblings included Rose, John, Mary, Tena, Miro and Eva. Ted attended the Crooked Lake School for 10 years. In 1942, his father Peter became ill and Ted, as the oldest, left school to farm and support the family. The Kwasnica family was multi-talented. Father Peter was very good on the mandolin and the children learned to play musical instruments at an early age. From 1943-1948, John, Mary, Miro and Ted had a fmily orchestra called “The Hometowners”. In 1949, John and Ted joined “Montana Steve and his horse Flicker” and became part of a circus troup that traveled across Canada. In 1952 Ted married Bernice Schneider and they continued to farm with the elder Kwasnicas at Wakaw. They had four children: Debra, Theodore, Rosalee, and Susan. Ted continued to play violin all his life, including Ukrainian tunes. The interview covers Ted’s memories of farming at Wakaw, which started with oxen and progressed to horses and machines; the log house built by the Bayers family in which he was born; the crops and gardens they grew; and the part music played in their lives. The third tape of the interview consists mostly of Ted playing Ukrainian tunes on the violin.
Location: 2010.39.21-23
John Lazoruk, 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of John Lazoruk by Joan Margel in July 1997. John Lazoruk was born December 23, 1913, a month after his parents, Metro and Domka Lazoruk came to Rycroft. They had traveled from Stuartburn, Manitoba to Edson by train, the over the Edson Trail with ox drawn wagons and sleighs, complete with stove and tent for shelter, and leading their one cow. They were the first Ukrainian settlers in the Rycroft district, which was then known as the Spirit River area and covered in heavy bush.The Lazoruks had seven children. By age 12, John was helping with the farm work. In 1938 he married Lillian Zahara. They farmed with they elder Lazoruks until John began to work as a road foreman in 1943. The interview covers the Lazoruk family; John’s experiences as a child on the farm and working for other farmers in the area; the mechanization of the farm; his marriage to Lillian; and his roadwork.
Location: 2010.39.24-25
Lillian Lazoruk (nee Zahara), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Lillian Lazoruk (nee Zahara) by Joan Margel in July 1997. Lillian Lazoruk was born December 4, 1913 in Gardenton, Manitoba to John and Katrina Zahara. In 1916, the family moved to River Lot 11-79-5-W6th at Rycroft, where they raised ten children. Lillian and her siblings attended school in the Esplen house until Greenway School was built. In 1921 the family returned to Gardenton for medical treatment for Katrina who was often ill. They returned to the Peace Country in 1927, but most of the family moved to British Columbia in the early 1940s where the mother passed away in 1947. John remained at Rycroft, as well as son William J. Zahara, and daughter Lillian, who had married John Lazoruk in 1938. Lillian Lazoruk died in December 2008 in Spirit River at the age of 95. The interview covers genealogy and immigration details for the Zahara family who had come to Canada from the Ukraine in 1896; Ukrainian customs and attitudes; Lillian’s memories of her childhood on the farm in Rycroft; Greenway School; the First Nations families in the neighbourhood; descriptions of the homes the Zahara family lived in; gardening and preserving; cooking and the types of food they ate; sewing and making feather quilts; social life and barn dances; wells and water in the area; her experiences working for neighbouring farmers and the Hart Hotel as a teenager. Threaded throughout are memories of different people and neighbouring farmers in the Rycroft area.
Location: 2010.39.26-27
Rooth McBride (nee English), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of four 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Rooth McBride (nee English) by Joan Margel in September 1997. Rooth Margery (English) McBride was born in Ontario in 1915. She and her mother came west to join their father, Harry English. They travelled by train to Watino, which was the end of the E.D & B.C. Railroad at the time, then drove the rest of the way with the mailman by horse and democrat to Harry English’s homestead on the Spirit River, RL 42-78-5-W6th. In 1936, Rooth married Jim McBride, who came from Ireland in 1926. They farmed her father’s homestead where they raised two boys, Brian and Denis. Jim McBride passed away in 1972 and Rooth in 1999 at the age of 91. The interview covers the trip from Watino to Spirit River,
Location: 2010.39.28-31
Pauline Nedohin (nee Swerediuk), 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of three 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Pauline Nedohin (nee Swerediuk) by Joan Margel in July 1997. Pauline Swerediuk was born in Lutsk, Ukraine in 1922. The Swerediuk family immigrated to Canada in 1927, along with their in-laws, the Andreiuk and Harbaruk families, settling at Rycroft. In 1941 Pauline married Mike Nedohin, the oldest son of Peter and Anne Nedohin, who had come to the Volin area in 1928. Mike and Pauline raised two daughters: Helen and Elizabeth. In 1961 they joined the Cooperative farm at Volin formed by seven farmers. After it disbanded in 1966, the family moved to Rycroft and Pauline went to work for the Spirit River Hospital, and Mike at Ross`s Garage. Mike passed away in 1982 at the age of 74, and Pauline in 2008 at the age of 86. They are buried in Volin Cemetery. The interview covers
Location: 2010.39.32-34
Jack Sandul, 1997
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of three 60 minute tapes recording an interview of Jack Sandul by Joan Margel in July 1997. Jack Sandul immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine ca. 1910, with his widowed father Onufrey Sandul and brothers Nick and Mike. They settled at Stuartburn, Manitoba, then moved on to Sandberg, Saskatchewan about 1914 after Onufrey married Maria Babuik. In 1930, Jack and Nick Babuik made a visit to the Peace Country and filed on homesteads in the Whitburn area. This land was unproductive so the homestead was cancelled and they re-filed in the Yellow Creek area. In 1938, Jack married Martha Bayers, a widow with two children (John and Joan). Jack and Martha added three more children to their family: Bob, Pete and Shirley. About 1940, Jack and his brother Mike began the trucking business which would become Sandul’s Transfer, with terminals in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Rycroft. Jack retired from the trucking business in 1974 and died January 2005 in Rycroft, at the age of 92 years. The interview covers
Location: 2010.39.35-37
Bill Woronuk, [1997]
Audio Cassette
The oral history consists of two 60 minute tapes recording an interview of William “Bill” Woronuk by Joan Margel ca. 1997. William Woronuk was the second son of Nick and Erena Woronuk, born January 19, 1916. His parents had immigrated from Bukovina, Austria (now a part of the Ukraine) in 1906 and 1903 respectively, and settled in Gardenton, Manitoba. In 1913 the Nick Woronuk family and the John Lazoruk family moved on to the Peace River District, to river lots near the present Rycroft townsite. This is where Bill was born, joining an older brother, George. After a difficult start in the new district, Nick and Erena were able to establish a good farm and large gardens, and three more sons–Alex, Merose, and John–were born in the 1920s. Bill attended the Rycroft school, and had completed 8 grades, when the depression began and he had to leave school to work on the farm. This allowed his four brothers to remain in school, and all achieved university educations. In 1942, Bill went to Dawson Creek and worked first as a mechanic at Wilson’s garage, then for Fiegels Transport. In the spring of 1944, he married Mae Kenezevich and the couple settled on Spirit River Lot 38 which they recently purchased from A G Miller. Mae, daughter of Jerry and Edith Knezevich, was born Sept 5, 1923 and grew up on the farm along the Burnt River. She attended school in Silverwod and then Rycroft. Bill and Mae had three sons and a daughter. Bill passed away in 2007 at the age of 91. The interview covers Bill’s memories of Rycroft School; his work with Wilson’s Garage and Figel’s Transport; and his work with the community of Rycroft, organizing the rural telephone co-op, the seed cleaning co-op, and the natural gas co-op.
Location: 2010.39.38-39