Vasile Gorda lived in Boian, Bucovina where at age 25 he met and married Domnica Demniciuc who was 16. He had what was considered a good job in that he loaded and unloaded flour and freight on the trains by hand. Still, he could scarcely make a living for him self and his young wife. What would he do if there were a number of children?
Since there were rumours going around in Bucovina about cheap land in a faraway country called Canada, Vasile decided to sell whatever they had and emigrate.
They arrived in Halifax in 1899, then travelled by train to Winnipeg where they spent the first winter. Here they were in a strange land with a few belongings, a spade and $3.00. That first winter they experienced their first tragedy. A baby daughter was born but died before the winter was over.
In spring they travelled to Edmonton and then to Andrew looking for land. The second winter was spent in a bordei near Andrew. The mound of soil where the sodhouse stood can still be seen.
From there the next spring they searched for a more permanent home. Since they were some of the first pioneers in what was later called Desjarlais district, they chose N.W. 16-57-14-W4. It was south of the North Saskatchewan River and this location reminded them of the old country. There they lived close to the Prut River where they used to fish. Here, they could do the same in the North Saskatchewan River, where at the time jacks and white fish were plentiful.
Vasile and Domnica immediately built a bordei in which to live till a better shelter could be built. Those were hard and trying times. People had to walk to Whitford to the nearest store. They carried supplies on their backs on trails through bushes as there were few roads. Clearing the land with an axe and spade was no easy task. When they could afford it, they bought oxen before they could buy horses. The women worked alongside their men folk. While Vasile was out working to earn a little extra money, Domnica did some brushing and clearing land at home so it could be broken. She was also skillful at weaving. They raised some sheep, she dyed the wool, spun it, and wove it into beautiful tapestries, and also embroidered lovely Romanian blouses.
The pioneer women would be left alone for long periods of time while the men went out to work. On one of these occasions, Domnica and a couple of neighbor women went out and picked what they thought were the worst mushrooms they could find. They cooked and ate them, hoping they would die, but all that happened was that they had severe stomach aches. Sometimes the women thought they would die of loneliness. To overcome this they would get together and walk south to visit some of their Romanian friends at Boian. Since there were no roads, they would walk through the bushes and mark the trees along the way so they could find their way back.
Vasile and Domnica had six sons and five daughters. One son died as an infant and another son Elie drowned at the age of 20, along with a friend. They had gone away to work and on a day off they went swimming in the Battle River, where they both drowned. It was a sad event for both families. The others grew up and married and brought them grandchildren.
Both Vasile and Domnica were well liked and respected in the Desjarlais community. They attended church regularly and always helped with community projects. Domnica was the best midwife and delivered babies in the homes for miles around.
Life was harsh at the beginning but as the years went by, and prosperity increased, there were also happy moments.
Sanfira, the oldest daughter, married Steve Kachuk. They raised a family of 13 children. Jennie (Joana) married Mike Matei and raised 2 sons and three daughters. Lena married George Hauca and had one daughter Kay. They lived on the farm till George’s death and then Lena retired in Edmonton. Mary married Metro Karbashewski and had 2 boys and a girl. Metro was an elevator agent in Willingdon for many years. Mary died in a car accident a few years ago. Kate married Victor Romaniuk. They have two sons and are farming at Riley. John married Jennie Andriuk and raised fourteen children. They lived on a farm at Desjarlais and then retired to Willingdon. Nick married Anne Axani and have five children, including a set of twins. They live on a farm at Desjarlais. Mike died a bachelor. George married Kate Kachuk. The marriage ended in divorce and George then married Johanna Dolski. They have three children.
Vasile Gorda died in 1941 at age of 71 years. His wife passed away in 1952 at 72. They lived fruitful lives on their homestead till the time of their deaths. Both were laid to rest in the Russo-Greek Orthodox Church cemetery at Desjarlais.
Gorda Vasile birth record.
Vasile was born on Sept. 19, 1870. Father – Ioan, son of Vasile Gorda. Mother – Vasalca Galaeata. Godmother – Iona, wife of Ilie Gaza.
Demenciuc Domnica birth record.
Domnica was born on June 24, 1880. Father – Pintelei Demeanciuc. Mother – Marina Lazar. Godmother – Nastasia, wife of Andrei Viziteu.