Tanas’s thoughts about emigrating to Canada began one night after a visit to a boyhood friend’s place. There was a good deal of talk in the village of Toporoutz about Canada – a land of plenty.
His friend told him that he was leaving for Canada and asked Tanas to accompany him. As he lay on his bed he thought about all the pros and cons of this major move in his young life. In the early morning hours he had reached a decision. Yes, he was going to Canada!
On a cloudy Sunday morning in the spring of 1912, this seventeen-year-old lad bade a sad farewell to his parents, a sister and three brothers and the home of his birth in Toporoutz.
When he arrived in Alberta, Canada, he landed his first job with the C.P.R. and worked in the vicinity of Calgary and Lethbridge for about three years. Misfortune overtook him in his first year at work when in a serious fall he broke his back. He was hospitalized for months but his foreman treated him kindly. He taught him English and many ideas about life in the new country. The C.P.R. also kept him on the payroll and when he was a bit better and barely able to do any work he was made their water-boy. He jokingly remarked he was their running water.
Eventually the love of the land beckoned him so he journeyed to Boian to visit his cousin George Dub- etz who had preceded him to Canada. George offered him twelve acres of land in return for helping him clear and break land on his own farm. This took a good deal of hard work but he persevered and he experienced a real feeling of pride when he got the title to that piece of land.
It was at this time, too, that he met and married Alexandra (Sanda) Matei who was Mrs. George Dubetz’s younger sister. Alexandra was a very hard worker and worked alongside her husband Tom to help clear the land.
Sanda was a very gifted and creative individual. Having learned the art of Romanian embroidery and weaving at an early age, she sheared sheep, spun the
wool, dyed it and wove it into beautiful tapestries. She knew and followed all the steps from shearing the struggling sheep to turning out intricately designed tapestries. She also embroidered beautiful blouses and wove rugs and sweaters. She knitted all the socks and mitts for the whole family. Often during the long winter months Sanda would get up at 5 A.M. and stoke the fires, and by the time the family was up she would have a pair of mitts ready to replace a lost pair, or she would have spun a big ball of yarn.
The Dubitzs lived in a bordei (a covered dug-out) a couple of years where the coyotes serenaded them on the roof at night. They then constructed a large two-roomed log house with a lean-to attached where the two horses and cows were sheltered.
Their hopes and dreams knew no bounds but now and again fate intervened and shattered these same dreams.
One lovely sunny day Tom was driving into the nearest town in his one-horse top buggy and thinking of the future. The crops looked excellent. The wheat in particular had headed out and the kernels were filling out well. If things went well what would he do with the money from the sale of his grain? The whole family needed some new clothes and these could be ordered from the farmers’ bible – T. Eaton’s catalogue. If there was any extra money he could purchase another horse or cow, possibly even a new wagon!
But on his way back he noticed the dark grey clouds moving quickly from the west accompanied by thunder and lightning. Soon the storm struck and within five minutes the crops were churned into muck and mud. The storm passed on but Tom was left with his shattered dreams.
Sanda, too, experienced misfortunes. All the farm women of the time would set clucking hens in spring to hatch a new batch of chicks, poults, goslings and ducklings. This particular spring day Sanda was quite pleased with herself. Her hens were set and fortunately she had enough for a good hatch. Mentally she was planning the feather bees to be held at her home as she could use the feathers to make pillows and quilts which would form part of the trousseaus for her growing daughters. That night when the world was asleep she was rudely awakened by a loud commotion coming from the chicken coop. Both she and her husband ran out to see what was happening. Running towards them were two coyotes each carrying a squawking hen in its mouth and the farm dog in full pursuit behind them. When the couple examined the damages caused in the coop, they found the frightened hens, some crippled, all squawking, and broken eggs everywhere. Not a nest was spared!
One fall the Dubitzs shipped a load of turkeys to market only to get in return a bill of three dollars for freight charges. During the depression of the thirties, things were no easier but they struggled on.
They survived the flu epidemic of 1918 when the whole family got sick at the same time. The parents doctored the children and themselves the best they could with home remedies consisting of herbs and plenty of garlic and onions.
The worst tragedy struck on August 28, 1928 when the oldest son Metro who was fourteen years of age drowned in Matei’s lake. The funeral was indeed sad but the family was consoled somewhat by the fact that Metro’s schoolmates from Bojan school led by their teacher Mrs. McEvoy filed past the casket and each one laid a white paper rose on the casket, then followed on foot the hearse drawn by horses all the way to St. Mary’s church at Boian, a distance of four miles.
There were always joyous occasions too. When Mike at age fifteen took first prize for his oats, Tom was indeed a proud parent. Then the hrams, the two- day weddings, the baptisms and the clacas (bees) all were happy events combining work and play, laughter, dancing and singing.
Tom and Sanda raised a family of ten children all of whom were born at home on the farm. These are:
For some of these celebrations, Sanda used to bake as many as forty-eight loaves of bread in her outdoor clay oven (cuptor). This oven was also used for baking the cabbage rolls and for keeping food warm once it was cooked.
Tom and Sanda raised a family of ten children all of whom were born at home on the farm. These are: Steve, Velma, Mike, Con, Mary, William, Kay, Sandy, Lilly and Andrew.
Tanas and Sanda Dubitz tried their best to give their children a formal education and despite economic hardships at least two of them became teachers – Velma and Andrew. The parents were justifiably proud of this fact.
Tom was a very kind-hearted person. One fall he even delayed harvest because a robin had built its nest in the binder’s twine box, so with four blue eggs looking so lovely, Tom did not have the heart to break the nest. After waiting a week he rented a neighbor’s binder and let the robin hatch the eggs and raise the young in peace.
Through all their hardships and tribulations they enjoyed life to the fullest and were very thankful to survive and see some of their dreams fulfilled. Both Tanas and Sanda are buried in St. Mary’s cemetery at Boian.
Birth and marriage records from church books. Boian, Bukovina
Tanasie Dubetz birth record.
Aftanasie (orthodox name), was born on July 12, 1894. Father – Mihai, son of Constantin Dubetz. Mother – Vaselena, daughter of Ioan Issac.
Mihai Dubetz and Vaselena Issac marriage record – Feb.21, 1891.
Mihai, son of Constantin, son of Andrei Dubetz married Vaselena, daughter of Ioan, son of Ilie Issac and Domnica Harasem. Mihai was 23 and Vaselena 19 years old.
Mihail Dubetz birth record.
Mihail was born on Aug.13, 1867. Father – Constantin Dubetz. Mother – Elena, daughter of Vasile and Maria Gatzi.
Vailca (Vaselena) Isak birth record.
Vasilca was born on Feb.26 1872. Father – Iwan Isak. Mother – Domnica, daughter of Tanasie Harasem.
Constantin Dubetz and Anna (should be Elena?) Gatz marriage record. Nov.8, 1851.
Constantin, son of Andrei Dubetz married Anna, daughter of Vasile Gatz. Constantin was 18 and Anna 22 years old.
This is so wonderful! You are doing such great work. Sanda and Tanas Dubitz are my great grandparents. My mother, Lauretta Vincent (Dubitz) is the eldest daughter of their son, Mike. I do not know if you are aware, but my parents now own the homestead, and spend much of their time there. My children have spent summers climbing the same trees that their ancestors did. It is so wonderful to keep this heritage alive. Thank you!
Thank you , Florin.. This brings many a tear & memories to keep reading the article.. These were my grandparents, as you know I’m Kay’s youngest daughter.. Excellent work..
Thanks Florin, Tanas and Sanda were my grandparents and Lily is my Mom. I love reading through the history and remembering the holidays spent at the farm with grandparents, aunts and uncles and the many cousins. Such fun times!
Thanks for this. It really is awesome to read about my very hard-working grandparents life. My dad is William.