This is a story of a young lad, who was pretty well forced to go on his own at a very young age. He came from a large family that was having a hard time to make ends meet. There were eight children at home waiting to be fed and clothed, which was a pretty hard chore for dad to do. So I up and figured it's time to lessen the load for dad. I decided to go up north to the fishing camps, though I was only fourteen years old. That was quite a call for young lads to go up there as bull cooks. This meant hauling wood, doing odd chores, helping with the dishes and all the odds and ends around camp.
In the fall of 1939, my uncle, Mike Shinkaruk and his daughter Alexandra, were working in one of these fish camps. She came home for a visit. One evening they came over to our place and we were chatting all about the north and its perils. She says to me, "You know Andy these people, Harry and Mary Husak, that! work for are looking for a young lad as a bull cook, and I really think you would be the ideal person for that job. The pay is good for ajob like that. He pays, $60.00 a month and room and board." Well believe me, that was big money for a kid that had never been put on his own. So we sat down with dad and mom, Elko and Lena Boychuk, and talked it over for quite a while. The decision was made.
I packed my pack sack with the few belongings that I had. Three days later I was off to the northern wilderness; off to Dore Lake. When I finally reached my destination, which was Harry Husak's fishing camp, lo and behold it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. "Kid that's it. You are on your own; believe it or not".
I settled down to doing my duties, as they were explained to me. Being away from home for the first time, was beginning to make me homesick. Lucky for me, the people I worked for saw that. Harry and Mary would sit with me and explain how it just had to be like that, as sooner or later we all have to get our start.
I was only a bull cook for about a week. Then Harry says to me, "You know what young lad I think I'll make a man out of you sooner than you think, cause one of the men I hired for fishing this winter got sick. So it looks like you'll have to come out fishing with us." That really tickled me pink, because I was going to be one of the guys, instead of just being a bull cook. One of these men, Ingwell Requel was his name, fished all his life.
The season usually opened the first of December every year. It was quite the time. Every fishing camp would be all ready to go. At the first crack of dawn, the men would be gone like the wind, everyone trying for the best fishing grounds that they knew. Of course, first come first served.
Lo and behold, my boss Harry, out smarted the rest of the fishermen that winter. We waited until midnight, that night of November 30, 1940. Our sleds were packed with nets, lines, weights and you name it whatever it took to put the nets in the water through the ice, we had it on the sleighs. The night was clear, crisp and cold, and the moon was nice and bright, which made it easy to see the jigger. The jigger was big ten foot plank, equipped with floats and springs. As you pulled a rope it would slide under the ice. The ice was crystal clear blue and there was no snow, which made spotting the jigger easy. In fact we had to equip our boots with cleats to prevent us from slipping on the ice. We set all our nets before six o'clock in the morning. When the other fishermen, Geir Thordon and his three men and Verner Johnson and his six men, were coming out, we were already going home, with all our nets well marked. These fishermen were kind of put out about that. However, before many days went by, our tactics became quite a conversation piece, on how we out foxed the rest of them. It was always a good topic for a laugh now and again.
I was only supposed to go there for one winter, but it turned out I stayed there for six years, until I was called to the army in 1945.
As it was, I just nicely got down to the army and the war was over, so I bummed around Prince Albert. I worked for Burns and Company for a while, then I got the cry for the north again. I went for the second round of wilderness. Our camp was right on the water front. We were in a nice bay. The stretch of water in front of our camp was about half a mile across and believe me it sure was nice there in the summertime. You could see all kinds of animals and birds around the water. It was nothing to get up in the morning, come out of the bunkhouse and see a moose right in the yard. During fly season, the mosquitoes, sand flies and horse flies used to be so bad, that the deer, moose and elk used to come right in Harry's barns to get away from flies.
It sure was nice after a hard day's work to sit around and generally shoot the breeze, while we were fixing nets, or making fish boxes.
The most unique experiences I recall, was our trapping expeditions. One winter Harry came home from his trap line with a few pelts and among them was a beautiful male mink. He looked at this mink and says to me, "you know Andy if ever you could bring one of these male minks home alive, I will give you $50.00. Just think of the beautiful minks this male could produce if I turn him loose with my female minks". To my astounding surprise the very next morning it was my turn to go on the trap line. I got no more than about one and half miles from camp, when there he was, a nice male mink. He must have got caught just minutes before I got there, be-cause his leg was not broken yet. Right then my mind started to work a mile a minute, as to how to get this animal home without hurting him any further. I proceeded to out smart the animal, and just when I thought I had him, he got me right by my middle finger. When a mink gets a hold of anything like that you have to knock him out to make him let go. I just let him have my finger till I got home. I held him over the pen, gave him a tap on the nose that knocked him colder than a mackerel. Believe me it sure was worth my while, as I think I really was the first trapper to get himself a deal like that. The litter that male produced was just ten times better than those from the domestic males.
Besides having a fishing camp and a mink ranch, Harry and Mary ran a stopping place. There was two big bunk houses to house the freighters and a barn to shelter the horses. Sometimes there would be as many as thirty teams of horses and about ten to twelve men to feed for a night, so as you can see Mary also had her work cut out for her.
They said there really wasn't much of a future in Dore Lake.
They wished me lots of luck and I was off,
to the turmoil of this crazy mixed up world and believe me,
there was many a time I wished I was back up north again,
to my quiet secluded bunk house and to all that beautiful scenery,
which the prairies could not produce."
was written in McLeans magazine several years
ago and a short T.V. documentary was made at the same time.
This was a story of their being reunited after many years
of forced separation Joseph in Canada and Maria in the Ukraine.
Unfortunately, Maria only lived several months after finally
getting to Canada to join her husband at Dore Lake, Saskatchewan.
Article has been edited.
Joe and his future wife, Manya, went to school together in Kasperiwici, part of the region called Glacia. In the year of 1915, Joe and Mariya courted. At this time the world was at war with the Triple Alliance, (Germany, Italy, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Joe was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army. When the war ended in 1918 and Germany and its allies were defeated, Joe was detained in Italy as a prisoner of war for two years. Upon his release he returned to Kasperiwici and married Mariya on May 22, 1921. Joe and Mariya then settled on a three and a half acre farm. Two years later Mariya gave birth to their daughter Petrouchka.
After the first world war, Eastern Europe remained in a state of political turmoil. Communist ideas, Nazi propoganda, and authoritarian governing, infiltrated the governments and burdened and suppressed the people. For the villager and farmer, life was hard. Agriculture remained backward, yields were low, markets restricted by low productivity and prosperity lay beyond reach. During the 1920's many Ukrainians left their villages and farms to seek a better life in Canada. Joe, seeing Canada as a land of opportunity and freedom, also left the Ukraine, and immigrated to Canada in 1928. However, he left his wife and daughter behind hoping to find work in Canada to pay for their passage later on. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government temporarily ended immigration in 1932, because the Depression Government couldn't even support it's existing population.
While in Canada, Joe worked as a farm laborer. Realizing he was unable to bring his wife and daughter to Canada, Joe saved enough money by 1939 to return to Kasperiwici. However, his plans were shattered. On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler's armies invaded Poland, thus initiating another world war. Ten days earlier Russian forces had also invaded Poland. Mariya and Petrouchka escaped into the hills. Most of the village was burned to the ground. Joe could not go home.
In 1941, Mariya and Petrouchka returned to the village. It was now under Russian occupation and their land and home became the property of the state. Petrouchka married a village boy, who had been a Polish soldier. When the Russians demanded conscription of all able bodied men into the army, he fled into the hills.
Russia, France and The Commonwealth were allied against Germany. The alliances of the people in the village were split. Some were pro-Nazi, others pro-Poland, still others Communist. Little trust ex-isted between friends and family. The Russians demanded to know the whereabouts of Petrouchka's husband. Petrouchka and Mariya failed to give the Russians the information they requested. Mariya was severely beaten, which caused a permanent stoop. Mother and daughter were then loaded into a cattle car and shipped to Siberia. They journeyed seventeen days before they reached their destination; a coal mine in the Ural Mountains. Mariya was put to work scrubbing miner's washrooms. Petrouchka worked underground in the mines. Her job was to walk ahead of the miners carrying a lamp. When the flame from the lamp flickered or died it meant the gas level was unsafe. Petrouchka did this until her death nine years later in 1955. She died of a liver disease. Petrouchka's husband shot himself, or had been shot near Kasperwici. At age sixty five Mariya retired, left Siberia and resided with her sister in Kasperiwici.
Meanwhile, Joe moved to Dore Lake. From 1945 to 1955 Joe and Mariya lost contact with one another, because Joe moved and letters were not forwarded. When they relocated each other in 1955, Joe tried to get the Russians to release Mariya. However he failed. Joe tried again, when a notary public advertised in a Winnipeg Ukrainian newspaper, that he could get relatives of Canadian immigrants out of Communist countries. Joe sent the required amount of $50.00. Mariya was now seventy one and ill, and the Russians were willing to let her go.
Frank Andres, the Conservation Officer, in Dore Lake helped Joe with the formalities required by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. On January 15, 1969 Mariya arrived in Saskatoon. Frank Andres drove Joe to Saskatoon where he met Mariya at Dave Dion's house (a friend of Frank's). After forty years of painful separation man and wife were happily reunited.
Joe and Mariya Jarusewich returned to Dore Lake and resided in Joe's house next to Harry Husak's. Unfortunately, their reunion together was short lived. Seven months and thirteen days after Mariya arrived in Canada, she suddenly took ill and passed away in the Big River Hospital. Joe continued to live in Dore Lake, until his death on June 15, 1979, after a lengthy illness.
Daley's Funeral Home of Big River, was entrusted with the funeral arrangements for the late Mr. Joseph Jarusewich of Dore Lake, Saskatchewan who passed away on June 15th at the University Hospital in Saskatoon, after a lengthy illness.
Funeral service was held June 19th, 1979 in the First United Church, Big River, Saskatchewan with Rev. Jamie Scott officiating. Organist was Mrs. L. Wilson.
Mr. Jarusewich was predeceased by his wife Maria in 1969 and one daughter in the Ukraine. Mr. Jarusewich came to Canada in 1928 where he resided in the Big River district, then moved to Dore Lake. Pallbearers were: Bernard Palmer, Harold Viden, Ted Johnson, Len Neufeldt, Larry Giesbrecht, Len Zinovich. Interment followed in the Big River Cemetery.