Peter Esak was born July 12, 1888 in Boian, Bucovina. He came to Canada in 1899 at age 11 with his parents Domnica and Petre Esak. The family settled at Desjarlais, Alberta, about 70 miles north-east of Edmonton. At a very young age Peter accompanied some older men to seek jobs on the railroad where he worked very hard. Some Catholic nuns felt so sorry for him that they asked him to leave his job and go to school. They supplied him with room and board just so he would get an education. Unfortunately Peter had to leave before completing his schooling as his mother became ill and he was needed at home to look after his younger brothers and sisters. There he grew up on the farm often doing a man’s share of work. He would carry a bag of wheat on his back to have it ground into flour and then haul it back again on his return trip.
In 1911 he married Ana Yurko, daughter of Mihai and Maria Yurko of Boian. They bought a quarter section from the C.P.R. company about one mile north from his parents’ place. There, they built their first house, one-room mud-plastered log cabin, and pro-ceeded to clear the land. As the years went by, he acquired more land and built a fine two-storey farm house and all the other buildings needed on a farm.
When his sons and daughters were old enough he left much of the farm work to them and began operating as a stock buyer in Willingdon and Vilna. He operated this business very successfully for a number of years.
Peter Esak did not shirk his involvement in local community and church affairs. He worked ably on road construction in the area, since new roads had to be built and old trails to be elevated and repaired. He served efficiently as a trustee of the Desjarlais school board. He worked very hard to have a school built in a more central location of the district. Since the first school was a converted house, and located in southern part of the district, the two older daughters had to walk 5V2 miles to school. When that school burned down the district was divided into two. In Desjarlais a two-roomed school was constructed and to the east a smaller one-room school called Deep Lake was built. In this way all the school children had shorter distances to walk to school.
Peter and Ana enjoyed social activities. The “hrams” the Christmas parties and numerous weddings were known to be joyous occasions with good food and plenty of beverages and dancing. The Esaks were invited, in return, by their numerous friends and relatives and wherever they were, you could see that the Esaks were the life of the party. Ana had a beautiful voice and when she sang with others, the nostalgic Romanian folksongs of love, of longing and of sorrow, tears would come to the eyes of the listeners.
After many years of farming and marrying off all their sons and daughters, they retired to live in Wil- lingdon in 1953. They lived to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at which time they received many congratulatory messages.
The Esaks raised a family of four sons, Nick, Kost, Mike and Floyd and seven lovely daughters, Mary, Dora, Katie, Lena, Doris, Jean and Helen.
Peter died on April 24, 1973 at age of 85 and Ana followed him a year later April 16, 1974 at age of 80. They were laid to rest at Boian.