The annals of bygone days reflect the many facets of pioneer life; however the magnitude of the hardships encountered by these pioneers in a raw new land is relatively unknown. The acquisition of 160 acres for a small fee of ten dollars in a country of freedom and unlimited opportunities, was a dream that became a reality for Toder Kelba at the turn of the century.
Having served in the Austrian army for three years, he decided to emigrate to Canada from Boian, Bucovina. Toder Kelba was the youngest of four children. He had an older sister Mary and two older brothers Metro and Nicolai. Upon arriving in Canada he worked as a labourer for the C.P.R. and in the Lethbridge coal mines. In April 1902, Toder applied for a homestead S.W.4-56-14-W4 in the Boian district, a predominantly Romanian settlement.
On Feb. 15, 1903, he married Maria Sandulak, daughter of Simeon and Vasilca Sandulak who lived in the same area on S.W.34-55-14-W4.
The Alberta Provincial Archives records indicate that in 1905 the assets of Toder Kelba were 4 horses, 4 cattle, 4 sheep, a log home 17′ x 36′ valued at $200; a stable 14′ x 20′ $50; a well $30; 10 acres broken; a crop valued at $20.00. A patent for the homestead was issued on March 16, 1906. After residing in Canada for a minimum of three years and meeting the necessary requirements, Toder Kelba was granted a Naturalization Certificate September 20, 1905.
To supplement a meagre farm income, he worked on the construction of the High Level Bridge in Edmonton. The extra money earned enabled him to provide more adequately for a growing family. At home, Toder took great pride in his assets, especially a team of horses. Often he would bring the harnesses indoors and oil the leather and polish the brass buttons. Today the surviving sons and daughters remember him as a kind and considerate father.
In 1918 the Spanish flu was raging in North America and taking its toll of lives. Toder Kelba was one of its victims, dying at age 46 (1872-1918). Three-year old son Nick died the day of his father’s funeral. Maria’s life was short, too. She passed away at age 37 (1884- 1921). Both have been laid to rest at the local St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox church cemetery at Hairy Hill.
Of this marriage there were eight children, namely, Annie (Mrs. Alex W. Svekla), Metro, Lena (Mrs. Metro Soprovich), Katie (Mrs. Tom P. Hutzcal), Mike, Gregory, Nick and Sanda (Mrs. Nick Demchuk). After Maria’s death, the children ranging in ages from two to seventeen were left to fend for themselves. The older ones hired themselves out as domestic help inreturn for room and board while the two youngest were looked after by the oldest sister, Annie. The trials and tribulations of the ensuing years are lonely, fading memories. As the years went by, the children married and established their own homes and had nice families of their own.
Annie passed away in 1971 at sixty-eight years of age. Gregory served in the Canadian Army overseas during World War II. He passed away in 1979 at age of sixty-five.
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