As a young man of 23, Condrea, along with other relatives and friends, planned to leave their native Bukovina and emigrate to that land of hopes and dreams, Canada. In March, 1899 they boarded a freight ship in Hamburg, Germany and sailed across the Atlantic to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Condrea, along with others went to western Canada. From Edmonton he journeyed with others to the Andrew-Wostok area.
Like other young men he went to work for the C.P.R. on the railroad track earning $1.25 for a ten-hour day. He managed to save some money with which he bought a pair of horses, a wagon and a plow. These he brought to his homestead where he had already cultivated a few acres and had built a little hut.
In 1901 he married Rafira Yurko, daughter of Mihai and Maria Yurko. They settled on their homestead and worked hard and long, like most of the pioneers. Their family grew in number till eventually, they had eight sons and four daughters.
In 1912 they moved to Vegreville, and again Condrea got a job on the railroad track and worked long ten-hour days at $1.50 per day. Their love of the land forced them to go back to the farm, so they sold their property in Vegreville and bought a farm at Boian in 1916.
Condrea Skirka was a founding member of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church at Boian and an elder for many years. In the winter months he would get up early, take wood and chips and start the fire in the church so that the building would be warm and cozy by the time the parishioners arrived. Rafira, too, was a member of the Boian Ladies’ Club and volunteered her help whenever possible.
During the dreadful flu epidemic, Condrea was one of the few who was not ill, so he helped look after the sick. Sadly, the Skirkas lost three boys and one girl during this flu. Later, another son passed away.
They were now left with three sons and three daughters, Michael of Vegreville, Nicholas of Willingdon and Steven in Edmonton. Mrs. Mary Michalcean of Vegreville, Mrs. Dora Werenka of Andrew and Mrs. Elizabeth Lastiwka of Vegreville.
Condrea and Rafira farmed till they retired to Hairy Hill. Condrea passed away in 1955. Rafira lived with daughter Elizabeth and finally was placed in the Vegreville Nursing Home. She passed away at age ninety-nine.
Mike Skirka, oldest of three surviving sons married Rita P. Hutzcal in 1932. After farming for five years, Mike started buying grain for National Grain Co. of Hairy Hill. Subsequently Mike and Rita undertook other businesses as well. But throughout their life both were very active in local community affairs. Gifted with a beautiful tenor voice, Mike was a cantor in the Boian church for forty years. He was secretary of the Village of Hairy Hill for eight years, president of the Hairy Hill Co-op for a number of years. They were both life-long members of the Romanian Orthodox Church at Boian and both sang in the choir.
In 1974 they retired to Vegreville but are still active in church and community affairs.
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