Simion Tkachuk was the son of Constantine and Domka (née Ostashuk) Tkachuk. He came to Canada with his parents and three brothers Nicholas, Jack and George. They settled in the vicinity of present day Andrew with younger friends John Ropchan Jr. who was married to Maria Scraba. The land was level and well wooded. It was here that Simion’s only sister, Ksenia was born. However, the land was so level that drainage was poor so the families moved eastward to higher and more rolling land in the Shalka district where the Andrietzs, the Cutsungavichs and the Huculaks were already established. It was normal and natural for these people to settle near friends and relatives. In the new district Constantine proceeded to develop his farm quite successfully and his family grew in number. Two more sons were born here, Toder and Martin, making a total of six sons and one daughter.
George and Martin attended school in Vegreville and the latter continued with his education at Alberta College in Edmonton. Because George had some formal education he was able to handle the N.W. Elevator grain buying agency in Vegreville and then the prestigious Alberta Farmers’ Wheat Pool elevator in Wil- lingdon. Jack served four years in World War I and then made his home in the Kooteney Valley in B.C. where he provided guide services. When he died he was buried in the soldiers’ plot in Vancouver. Nick, Toder and Ksenia married and raised large families of their own.
Simion Tkachuk hired out as a young man to Indian Chief Daniel Hawk on the Saddle Lake Reserve as a ranch hand and wood cutter to provide fuel for the home and the fur trading store. While on the reserve he learned to speak Cree fluently. While he worked he took very little pay in actual cash, just enough for clothing. Rather he shrewdly exchanged his labor for ten head of cattle and two Indian ponies – livestock that served him well when he married Anita Harasim and settled on his own homestead some three miles south of the Romanian Church at Boian. Once he was settled he left his wife and her younger brother Metro in charge of the livestock and decided to go out working with the C.P.R. extra gang in the Crow’s Nest area. Before leaving he ploughed a 12-furrow fire guard around his homestead so that when a prairie fire swept through, his livestock, his mud-plastered hut, the stable with the hay stack next to it were all saved. On and off the job he saw the evils of alcohol but he never succumbed to it. What a resolute and determined husband and father! But every person has a weakness and Sam, as he was commonly known, was enslaved by the tobacco weed. He became a perpetual pipe smoker of the T & B plug.
One day Simion and his eldest son Constantine were clipping along in a wagon with some ten bags of wheat making their way to Vegreville. Coming towards them were three weather-beaten native women also in a wagon. On recognizing Sam when they were alongside the Tkachuk wagon, they called out in unison, “whoa – whoa!” The ponies came to a dead stop. “Any tobacco?” was the query in Cree by one of the women. Simion reluctantly pulled out his plug and handed it to the native women. They took the whole package, thanked him in Cree and goaded their horses onward. Sam shook his head in disbelief but never said a word. He and his son proceeded on to Vegreville and halted by Teodose Eliuk’s general store where Sam replenished his supply of tobacco.
Sam was an excellent grain farmer. With the exception of Joe Webber and Julius Telsro, Sam exceeded all farmers in the area in growing good clean wheat, oats and barley. He was rewarded in that he received a higher price for his seed grain, because he usually seeded the latest variety, free from weeds. Often in spring farmers were seen in Sam’s farmyard having come to buy seed grain. Unpaid taxes and bank loans at high rates of interest eroded the credibility of even some of the literate farmers, whereas Sam, this supposedly illiterate peasant’s son, realized that living within one’s means and keeping one’s word to all made him stand tall amongst his fellow men.
When Sam died prematurely, the priest from Shepenitz, the Very Reverend Chrustawka, who was burying him remarked, “It saddens me to bury this man. He was a man of his word.”
Sam and Anita were frugal people and strove to give their ten children the best education within their means. Four of the children became teachers. Constantine was the first to graduate as a teacher and taught ably and conscientiously in several rural schools before moving to Edmonton where he took up carpentry. As a single parent, he raised his only son Ronald who holds a Master’s degree in science and is presently employed by the city of Edmonton. Jack graduated from the University of Alberta and taught school too, before locating near Lesser Slave Lake where he operated a saw mill for many years. Sharon also taught school before joining the army. She married later but passed away at a young age. Kathleen enjoyed teaching for a number of years and still substitutes when required. Mary, Lily and Dorothy have households of their own.
The family farms were left by Sam’s early death in the care of Martin who is every bit as orderly as his father. For a long while he was assisted by his brother George who has a born cattle man.
Both Simion and Anita Tkachuk are resting in peace in St. Mary’s cemetery at Boian.
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