My father comes from a small town in Alberta with longstanding Ukrainian roots. This past weekend we traveled to Edmonton for a huge family reunion to celebrate my father's family immigrating to Canada in 1912. A celebration of 100 years of a family in Canada.
On Friday morning, we drove out to the small town my dad grew up in, just east of Edmonton. The town has a current population of 712. Adam thought it was amazing that a whole town had fewer people in that his high school! There is one short "main street" and it really is a charming little town. Driving through the town and seeing the house my dad grew up in (with 10 children) brought back all sorts of memories for me. As I was growing up we traveled to Mundare every summer and even spent one Christmas holiday there. My sisters and cousins reminisced about trips to the grotto, the corner candy store, my grandfather's garage (and the chest of pop) and remembering to keep our mouths closed when we were riding our bikes so the bugs wouldn't get in.
There were no grocery stores in town (and still aren't) and I remember my grandmother's huge garden and have heard the stories of the chickens running around in the yard when my dad and his brothers and sisters were young. Families had to be self-sufficient in those days and everything was made "from scratch". I have fond memories of my grandmother's chicken and cream, perogies and doughnuts and butterhorns. Part of that small town, rural life is actually very appealing to me. When we visited when we were younger, we did a drive into the "big" town of Vegreville (which I think only had a population of 3000 now and it has grown so much) to get groceries and other things we needed. The world's largest egg/pysanka is Vegreville's claim to fame.
After some ice cream, we drove back west and stopped at the Ukrainian Village which shows what life was like in Ukrainian villages and homesteads in the early 1900s in Alberta. There were actors in role and traditional costumes and many historic buildings and replicas. We met up here with my sister's family and we all learned a lot about the hard life that early immigrants had in the prairies.
Friday was a full day of history and experiences. Lots of memories and connections for me and hopefully the boys are old enough now to remember this trip and a little glimpse into their grandfather's childhood.