O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 33



Young, Leonard and Kate (Vaadeland)

Leonard Young.

Back Row: Trent, Dulcie, Rita, Karen, Wilf.
Front Row: Kate and Leonard, 2003.

I was the only child of Wilfred and Mary Young, born on October 22, 1929, in Dodsland, Saskatchewan. We moved to the homestead in Ladder Valley in 1930. I went to school in Ladder Valley until 1943 when we moved to East Coulee, Alberta. I continued going to school there until I became a grade eleven dropout. Ten dollars a day in the mine sounded too good to continue going to school. I worked in the mine for a short while, then went to Dundas, Ontario and worked in a die-cast factory for a year and a half. When we went on strike I packed up and returned to the mine at East Coulee. In the spring of 1951, work became slack, so I returned to Ladder Valley to try farming and working out. Working out consisted of four winters on Great Slave Lake, fishing for Clark Fisheries from Meadow Lake, working for Ben Wall and also at the tree nursery.

In 1958, I married Kate Vaadeland, youngest daughter of Severin and Karen Vaadeland of Park Valley. We had six children.


Wilfred, born January 19, 1959, married JoAnn Park. They have three children, Krystal, Janine and Brendan.


Karen, born February 11, 1960, married Wayne Smith. They have two children, Tamara and Shawn.

Rita, born July 12, 1961, married Gilles Lepage of Debden. They have four children, Michelle, Janelle, Lindsay and Tyson.

Dulcie, born May 29, 1964, married Mike Hoffarth of Dysart, Saskatchewan. They have two children, Jordan and Mitchell.

Myrna, born November 4, 1968, married Ron Crashley. They had one child, Chelsey. Myrna passed away in 1989.

Trent, born May 24, 1974, is still single.

In 1975, I went to work for Saskatchewan Forest Products and worked there until 1990 when I retired. I continued farming until 2000 when I sold the farm to our son Wilfred.

Being an only child it was quite boring out here in the sticks. My buddy was my dog. It became very quiet after Muriel left in 1935. However in 1937, the Hill family moved in with 11 children, so I just about moved in. In 1939 we moved to take over Ladder Valley store and post office. Then I spent a lot of time at the Wood place with Allyn and Russell, and our dogs were always with us.

On Sundays, it was always Sunday school and church. In summer it was always ball practice for the men after church. We rarely ever missed a sports day at Lake Four, Rapid Bend, Bodmin and Big River, and our own at Ladder Valley. We competed in all the races trying to win a nickel, as they were scarce in those days. I think back on them as the good old days, which it was for the kids, but for the parents who were providers, it had to have been tough.


Young, Wilfred and JoAnn

Wilfred Young.

Back Row: Wilf and JoAnn.
Front Row: Brendan, Janine, Krystal, Nov. 2001.

Wilfred Neil Young was born on January 19, 1959, to Leonard and Kate Young of Ladder Valley. He is the oldest child of a family of six children; Wilfred, Karen, Rita, Dulcie, Myrna and Trent. Wilfred attended the Ladder Valley School for grades one and two, then transferred to the Big River School for grades three to nine. Wilfred started working at Weir's Esso in February of 1975, and quit school in June 1975. He then started working at the Big River Sawmill in September of that same year. Wilfred later wrote his G. E. D. and got his grade twelve.

I, Jo-Ann Young (Park), was born January 14, 1966, to Leonard and Louella Park of Park Valley. I am their second child and have an older brother Merlin and younger sister Elaine. I attended school in Debden from grade one to twelve, graduating on May 4, 1984. I then moved to Saskatoon where I attended Marvel Beauty School. I enjoyed my life in the city and met many new friends. I moved home in April of 1985 and got married to Wilfred Young on May 18, 1985, in Big River.

We bought a new mobile home and had it moved onto our land (SE 29-55-6-W3rd) in the small community of Ladder Valley when we were first married. In 1997, we built a new house on our farm. Wilf continues to work at the Big River Sawmill where he has worked for many different departments over the years. From 1993 to 1996, Wilf had to attend a Technical School for one month a year in Burnaby, British Columbia to become a certified saw filer. He is now head saw filer in his department. We also live on a farm where there is no shortage of work, from working the land to caring for the livestock.

When we were first married, I set up a hair shop in my home and did hair for several years. Seven years ago, I figured I needed a career change so I took a Home Care, Special Care Aide course. I now work at the Big River Health Center, on the Nursing Home side, as well as work for Home Care in the Big River, Debden area. I enjoy my new career very much; knowing what I do for people makes a difference in their lives is very rewarding.

Our first child, Krystal Ly-Anne Young was born on June 16, 1986. Krystal is 17 years old now and is going into grade twelve. She keeps busy with her schoolwork, and she plays many sports like baseball, volleyball, and broomball. Krystal also works as a cashier at the Co-op grocery store in Big River.

Janine Ashley Young is our middle child, born on October 20, 1988. Janine is fourteen years old now and is going into grade ten at school. She is very active in sports as she plays volleyball, basketball and broomball. She also takes tap and hip-hop dance.

Brendan Cole Leonard Young is our last child, born March 6, 1991. Brendan is twelve years old and going into grade seven. Brendan has taken Tae Kwon Do, a form of martial arts for many years and he has his brown belt, which is belt number eight. He also started taking Lacrosse in the fall and he hopes to play broomball in the winter. Our children are all going to school in Big River.


Young, Wilfred and Mary (Parkin)
Submitted by Leonard Young

Wlfred Young and Mary.

Wilfred, Leonard and Mary, 1940.

Wilfred was born in Longtown, Cumberland, England in 1888 and Mary Parkin was born in Wigton, Cumberland, England in 1889. They were married in Skipton, Yorkshire, England in 1911, and lived in Haltwhistle, Northumberland England where Wilfred was a coal miner.

In 1923, they immigrated to Canada. Wilfred arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in February aboard the vessel, Maburn. Mary and her niece Muriel Parkin, (who married Fred Baskott in 1935), arrived in March aboard the Montrose. They landed at Quebec City. (The Montrose received the Gold Cane for being the first ship of the year up the St. Lawrence.)

They went to Forest, Ontario to work on a fruit farm, but a year later they were on their way to Beaufield, Saskatchewan to work for Hector Close. In 1925, they started farming on their own but after five years of little or no crop they gave it up. Mother wanted to go back to England but Dad would have no part of that. In May 1930, they arrived in Big River, responding to the advertisement in the paper, "Come to Big River and for $20.00 we will take you out to find a homestead," but my Dad met George Dunn in the hotel and he took him around for $10.00.

He homesteaded on the NE 20-55-6 W3rd in May 1930. They had six workhorses, a saddle horse, six cows and some chickens that came from Beaufield by rail. They moved into the old Balfour shack, located on the SW 18-55-6 W3rd, where Henry Rempel now lives. The nearest neighbours were the Arthur Moore family and Freddie Coates. In October, they moved onto their place and stayed until 1939, then moved to Ladder Valley and took over Moore's Store and Post Office. With the war on, people were pulling out and things were very quiet. Being an old miner, my Dad decided to go back to the mines in East Coulee, Alberta. In 1943, they moved to East Coulee, but when the coal mining was slipping, they returned to the old homestead in 1951. Wilfred passed away in 1965 and Mary passed away in 1986.


Yur, Andrew and Ksenia
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Andrew Yur came to Big River in 1929, and in 1930, he sent for Ksenia, his future bride. For Ksenia to come to Canada, she had to sell her land in Russia and buy her ticket, since Andrew did not have enough money for her fare.

The immigration ticket that Andrew had bought in Russia took him as far as Prince Albert. While he was there, he purchased a homestead in Ladder Valley, and the same year he moved north.

Andrew worked for the railroad for three months and later he started to work on his homestead. He stayed with his neighbour during the winter and when summer came he began building his own home.

When Ksenia arrived they were married and continued to live and work on the homestead. Mr and Mrs Yur had two children, Gordon and Annie.


Yurach Family
Submitted by Marjorie Skopyk

Fred Yurach.

Fred and Margaret.

Fred Yurach came to Big River in 1921 from Ukraine. He married Margaret Smytanick in 1914 and they had four children: Anne, Nick, Bill, and Eva. Mr Yurach worked for the railway from 1912 to 1946. In 1928, he bought the general store on the corner from Mr Matthew, its previous owner. Anne Yurach was the manager of this store for a few years until she married George Pierce and moved to Weyburn, Saskatchewan where George was the principal of the school.

Bill took over as manager and continued in this capacity until his death in 1976. Bill married Marjorie McKnight in 1942. They had three sons, George (1943), Lyle (1947), and Neil (1949). Marjorie worked alongside Bill until he went to the army. Marjorie helped when needed and later when the IGA was built she worked alongside her sons till she retired.

George married Shirley Isabelle in 1962. They had three children Shelley (1963), Sherry (1965), and Sheldon (1967). George and Shirley both still work at the I.G.A., which is still family-owned. Shelley, after graduating from high school, went to Kelsey Institute where she took a meat cutting course and is currently the head meat cutter at the I.G.A. Shelley had four children Daniel (1984), Aaron (1987), Sereena (1992), and Adam (1995). Shelley is engaged to Charles Tilford. Sherry married Randy Maim in 1986 and they have two children - Blaine (1987) and Richelle (1989). Randy is currently working overseas on a drilling rig. Sheldon married Veronica Cook and they have two children - Donovon and Ariel.


Bill and Marge, 1942.

Bill and Marge, 1942.

Lyle married Elaine Crocker in 1972. They have a daughter Dana (1973) and a son Kelsey (1979). Lyle owned Northland Builders in Big River between becoming a teacher and getting his pilot's license. Lyle taught in Martinsville for fifteen years before deciding to go back to flying. He flew for Points North until his death in 2000. Dana married Sylvain Cormier in 2001. They have one son, Andre (2002) and live in Boston, Massachusetts. Kelsey married Priscila Clayton in 2000. Kelsey and Priscilla are both members of the Saskatoon City Police. They have one son, Rhyse.

Neil married Shirley Leslie in 1970. They have two children Leslie (1972) and Anne (1976). Neil and Shirley still work in the I.G.A. store. Leslie works for I.G.A. in Saskatoon. Anne married Clint Smith in 1997. They have one son, Mathieu (1997), and a daughter, Mackenzie (2002). Anne and her family are currently living in Whitecourt, Alberta. Marjorie remarried in 1978 to Mike Skopyk.


Marge and Mike Skopyk.

Marge, Max Abbot, Bill McKnight, Mike.

Nick married Marjorie Stratford in 1957. They had two girls Wanda and Donna. Nick was a telegrapher for the CNR. Nick is survived by his wife and daughters. Wanda married Glen MacDonald. She is a pharmacist in Saskatoon where they reside. Donna is a teacher in Saskatoon as well.


Nick and Marge.

Nick and Marjorie.

Eva married Wib Pierce in 1946. Wib worked for Sears until his retirement. They retired to Hamilton, Ontario. Fred, their only son, married Chris and they had two children Michelle and David.


Eva and Wib.

Eva and Wib.

Yurach, Lyle

Lyle Yurach.

Lyle and Kelsey.

Lyle was born to Bill and Marjorie Yurach. He resided and took his schooling in Big River. He furthered his education in Saskatoon and became a teacher. He has two children, Kelsey and Dana.

Kelsey Yurach won the gold at the Saskatchewan Wrestling Championship in Saskatoon. He impressively won seven straight matches to capture the gold in the 77-kilogram weight class at the city wrestling championship. Kelsey at age of 18, fourth-year wrestler and Marion Graham team caption went on to win 1st place (SAWA) at the provincials (81 kilograms) which was held at Mount Royal.

Lyle tragically lost his life in a plane crash in Nunavut on March 17, 2000.


Zehner, Lorraine

Lorraine Zehner.

Lorraine Zehner.

I was born in Southey, Saskatchewan in November 1934. My mother, Barbara Varls (Walz) and stepfather Karl Varls, now deceased, moved to Big River in 1947 and lived in a log house about one mile north of Big River (near the Johnson farm).

Karl worked in the Big River Sawmill and various other jobs up north in the bush. My father, T. Zehner (Southey), passed away in 1961. My sister, Geraldine, and her husband currently live in Regina. She has a son and a daughter who also live in Regina. My brother, Dennis Varls, and wife live in Regina, and they have two sons. My sister Betty (husband deceased) and her family all live in Regina. I also had five other brothers, all of whom are deceased. Brothers Gordon and Harvey currently live in British Columbia. My interests in sports were mainly baseball. I was involved in all the sports days, and won many ribbons for various events, (high jump, racing, ball throw, etc:). Being that we lived by the lake, I spent most summers swimming with friends.

After completing Grade Ten, my friend, Sophie Kazmiruk and I boarded a bus in July 1951 and left Big River for Regina. Within a few days, we were off to a job at the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel for two months. After two months I returned to Regina, while Sophie went out to Vancouver. It was the most memorable two months that I ever spent as I had a chance to meet people from all over the world.

After returning to Regina, I had various jobs as a sales clerk, in photography, and later working at Sears as a typist and on the computer for fifteen years. I have been retired for twelve years. I have two daughters, Sandra (Randy, sons Michael and Nathan) and Glenda (Jim, deceased), sons Aaron and Jason, remarried to James Melnychuk in 1977.

My greatest pleasure is travelling. I spent three weeks in Europe and England in 1995 (also visited Germany in 1987). In 2001, 1 spent two weeks touring the Maritimes.

I currently live in Regina (since 1951). I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me. I can be reached at: 2708 Meadow Lane East, Regina Saskatchewan. S4V 1L6.


Ziegler, Karl

Karl and second eldest son, Harry (who later married Patricia Pruden) came to Canada in approximately 1903 from Germany. They worked at Lake of the Woods in Ontario for one year. Karl and Harry then moved to Strasburg, Saskatchewan where Karl took up a homestead not far from Last Mountain (nine miles east of Strasburg). For the first year, Karl worked for different farmers and broke his own land, with oxen, in his spare time.

Karl and Harry were in Canada just over a year when they sent for Karl's wife - Marie Trambunt, eldest son, Carl (wife Eva Hunchu, daughter - Annie (1902-1995) (husband Alfred Pruden) and youngest son, Eddie (1903-1993) (first wife - Agnes Landry; second wife Veronica Laliberte). A daughter, Margaret, the only child born in Canada, was born in Strasburg, Saskatchewan (1907-2002) (first husband Verner Johnson; second husband Kai Hansen)

From Strasburg, Karl, Marie and Margaret moved to Dore Lake. Once there, Karl fished and trapped until they moved to Big River in 1920.

Eddie stayed in Big River and lived where the Elk's Hall is now located. Ed married his first wife, Agnes Landry and they homesteaded a few miles west of Big River until the war started. Ed joined the army and the family moved into Big River to a house where Gould's Garage used to be. Ed and Agnes had five children - Thelma (Bill Hall, 2 children), Fred (first wife - Doris Lacendre, six children; second wife - Susie Bergen), Karl (Buddy), Robert (Snookey), Jeanette (first husband - Percy Isbister, two children; second husband - Mick Whelan, three children) as well as three deceased children as babies - Dennis, Harry and Eileen. Ed and his second wife, Veronica had five children: William (Billy), Jimmie, Gerald, Linda, and Annie. Veronica also had two children from a previous relationship, Yvonne and Leo.


Karl Zeigler.

Back Row: Margaret and Ed.
At Table: Eva, Karl, Fred, Bertha, Aleada.
Sitting on right: Harry, Karl K. and Marie.

Zinovich, Emil and Alexandra

Emile Zinovich.

Emil, Alexandra.

Emil Zinovich was born on July 16, 1900. In 1928, he came to Canada from the village of Kokoritza, near the city of Brest, Russia (now reverted to the original Belarus). When he and his friend arrived at the Port of Montreal they were offered jobs in a mine. Emil decided that since he was a carpenter, a farmer and a fisherman (all trades learned from his father) he could not work underground. He headed west. His friend stayed to work as a miner. During his first year he worked for a farmer near Edmonton and in the fall of 1929 he moved to North Battleford where he worked for a farmer on another farm. When harvesting was over he commercial fished on Lac La Plonge and then took up residency in Big River where he roomed in the old mill hospital building.

From 1930 through 1941, Emil did carpentry work during the spring and summer months building homes and warehouses throughout northern Saskatchewan. (He had his journeyman's paper in carpentry.) He worked for commercial fishermen at Snake and Keeley Lakes and for Verner Johnson at Dore Lake. During this period Emil purchased his fishing outfit and camp on the west shore near Anderson Hill across from Big Island on Dore Lake.

Alexandra Shinkaruk was born on March 25, 1920, in the St.Julian district near Wakaw, Saskatchewan. She was one of twelve children born to Mike and Hafia Shinkaruk. When she was in her teens her parents moved to a homestead in the Sleepy Hollow district west of Bodmin, Sask. (Rusty Beebe now owns this property). In the spring of 1941, she took a job working for Harry Husak at his Southend stopping place on Dore Lake.

In 1940, Emil purchased two adjacent lots in Big River made available when a fire destroyed a three-story rooming house. He built a house (no female input....) and purchased a truck. On November 7, 1941, Emil and Alexandra were married. This was just at the beginning of the winter fishing season. He needed a cook. For two winters Alexandra cooked for the hired help and built fish boxes and trapped weasels in her spare time. In July of 1943, their first child, Helen Katherine, was born. November found Alexandra and Helen at the commercial fishing camp. Soon after their arrival, Helen developed pneumonia. George Greening airlifted her and her mother to Big River. Leonard Garry was born in October of 1944. This brought Alexandra's Dore Lake career to an end. Kenneth Roy was born in May of 1950.

Emil continued doing carpentry work but made provision for commercial fishing in the winter on Dore Lake. In 1948 he built an addition to the Junior School. In 1949 the Air Force Mess Hall was moved in from Ladder Lake. Emil remodelled it into Big River's first hospital-a Red Cross Hospital with its huge insignia painted on the roof. In 1952 he built the Junior Intermediate as well as a school in Canwood. Later he built onto the Canwood School. In 1953 he constructed the school in Parkside and in 1955 he built the Senior Intermediate School in Big River. In the late 1950's he built a wharf at Dore Lake for the Federal Department of Public Works. In 1967 he was foreman for the construction of the Centennial Building in Big River.

Emil also ventured into farming. Around 1952 he bought a quarter of land about two miles north of town from Ivor Fonas. Then he purchased an adjacent quarter from Tom Downing Estate. He operated more like a "gentleman farmer" but firmly believed that it was important to own and work the land. Over the years he employed many people in his construction, fishing and farming businesses.

Emil was a member of Co-op Fisheries of Dore Lake (for several years he served as president), a member of the Wheat Pool and as an inspector for the Housing Corporation of Big River. He was a staunch CCF/NDP supporter.

The first visit to his country of origin took place in 1963. Emil made this trip alone with a movie camera... This was his first opportunity to realize what a wise decision he'd made back in 1928. He was happy to see his family again but Canada was now his home. In 1973 Emil made this trip again accompanied by Alexandra and Ken.

Emil had a healthy lifestyle and was quite active. In retirement, to retain his fishing rights and more so for pleasure, he would return to fishing for a short time each winter. At the onset of his fatal stroke, he was fishing at Dore Lake. He and Geir Thordon helped each other out during the week. Ken went out on the weekends. When Emil showed symptoms of this stroke, Ken was with him. En route to Big River to the hospital, they drove across the lake to tell Geir of their plan to leave. Emil's last words to Geir were: "I don't care if I die right here on Dore Lake." He passed away on December 29, 1975, at the age of 75. He had no grandchildren at the time.

Alexandra, who was twenty years younger, continued to look after her large house and took pride in her huge garden and yard in spite of having Muscular Dystrophy. (Her symptoms progressed throughout her life but this disease was not diagnosed until she was sixty). She loved to travel, bake, cook and have visitors, especially family. She was an upbeat and energetic person who expected no less of anyone else than she did of herself. She was one of Jehovah's Witnesses since her teen years. He faith was very important to her. At the age of 76, she moved to Lake-Wood Lodge (now part of the Big River Health Center) where she resided until her death on July 18, 2002, at the age of 82.

Emil and Alexandra were happy living in this small community and would never have conceived living anywhere else.


Alexandra Zinovich.

Helen, Alexandra,holding Leonard.

Zinovich, Kenneth Roy and Mavis (Buchanan)

I was born in the Big River Union Hospital on May 20, 1950, the youngest child of Emil and Alexandra Zinovich. I attended the Big River Schools. After graduating from high school, I worked for Saskatchewan Forest Products as Bush Foreman when Carl Colby retired. Dale Vizina was my superintendent. I scaled timber, did bush reconnaissance and marked out roads for the Green Lake and Big River sawmills.

I travelled to Europe in 1973 with my parents to visit my father's family in Russia. Then in 1977, I made a similar trip to Russia, Hungary, Switzerland and France with my brother and sister and their spouses. More recently I have spent time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Maui, Hawaii.

In 1979, I attended SIAST (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Science Technology), Kelsey Campus in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, enrolled in a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning program. In 1980, I began my apprenticeship with Polar Refrigeration in Saskatoon. I have been with them to the time of this writing (2003).

In 1980, Mavis Buchanan and I were married. We have three children; Cheryl Charmaine (1974), Leon Kenneth Emil (1981) (Trina Taylor), and Amanda Lee (1982). (Amanda and three of her girlfriends currently have a rock band, "Surface". They have played gigs in Saskatoon, Regina, Ness Creek, Craven, North Battleford, and Turtleford, Saskatchewan and Toronto, Ontario. They have won Molson"s Battle of the Bands and Molson Canadian Rocks House Party). We have four grandchildren: Jennifer and Jessica (twins), Makayla and Dannon. We live in Saskatoon but our roots are firmly planted in Big River. We visit Big River often and one day we may return in retirement to live on our lake view property on Cowan Lake.

Mavis Ann Buchanan, elder daughter of Calvin and Myrtle (Drangsholt) Buchanan was born in Big River on February 26, 1953. She attended schools in Big River and Meadow Lake where her father ran a planer. She moved to Parsons, British Columbia with her parents and also lived at Golden, British Columbia where her paternal grandparents, Dan and Livina Buchanan were living. When Mavis returned to Big River she cooked for South Construction (Regina, LTD), Ken Hodgson Logging and Saskatchewan Forest Products. Then she worked for Yurach's IGA as a butcher. Mavis has operated a Day Care Center out of our house in Saskatoon throughout our marriage. She has been to Hawaii twice - once to Oahu and the other time to Maui as well as to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Mavis remembers her former neighbours and their families; Doris and Charlie Beebe, Cliff and Flo Kemp, Bill and Mary Potts, Mr and Mrs Giesbrecht, Mrs Keating, Mr and Mrs Jake Belfry, Mrs Mary Ausland, Sarah and Jack Teer, and Cliff and Freda Felt.

I also remember several former neighbours. The McCombes - Reverend Alex and Pauline, Wesley, Charlotte, Johnny (my young buddy) and Wendell lived across the back lane. Next door to them was Mr and Mrs Sam Reed (Mrs. Burt's parents). (Bovills, Andrew Millikin and his mother as well as Elfie Banting, who was a teacher, subsequently lived in that house.) Next door to them was the McKenzie (Charlie was a Justice of the Peace). Eventually Mrs. Olive Burt purchased this home followed by the McCullough Family of Cree Lake. Next to them was Ted Wiggins, a barber.

Next door to us was the Poolroom, which burned down in 1959. For a short time, there was a small house at the back of the lot owned by Mr Doucet, father of Merelyn Schuler and Donna Dodd. Later the building that housed a bakery was moved on to the lot. Eileen Watson and her parents, Mr and Mrs Clarence Becker operated this. Later, Albert and Lucille Carter owned the bakery. Eventually, the bakery business was replaced by a second-hand store operated by Dick Meyers. The building next to this one was Anderson Radio Electric where Einar and Tina Anderson also lived. Einar gave me my first aeroplane ride in a Piper Super Cub. I was ten years old.

Across the street was the Searle Grain elevator, which eventually became Pool. I remember two agents; Mac Scriven and Bud Juker. Mac opened the elevator one Sunday (unheard of in those days....) so that my father and Charlie Scrimshaw could haul grain in to be cleaned in preparation for seeding. A minister from one of the local churches intervened and had Mac close it down.

Across what used to be the highway lived Peter Kuklinski for a time. Mollison's lived there as well. Then the place was sold to Mr and Mrs Archie Webb.

A supply of fresh farmer's milk was important to my parents. I remember having the "milk run" up the "north road" to Hannigans and later to Mrs Ausland's for our family. Six quarts three times a week. (Heavy glass bottles) (Previously, when I was too young, Helen and Leonard would have to go to the Griefenbergers... Down a very dark road toward the old swimming hole....)

I remember the old burner by the lake smoking away and spewing sawdust all over town. During the night shifts, there was a glow of sparks at the top. From our house I could hear the sounds of the mill: whining and screeching of the saws, clanking off the jack ladder chain and the crashing of slabs into the burner. The lumber carrier noisily bounced over the railroad tracks by our house hauling from the mill to the lumberyard.

When I was quite young I was "running the booms" (stepping from one log to another in a boom on the lake by the mill) - a daredevil sport done by many kids. I fell in and found myself under the logs? I probably owe my life to Helen and Gordon Bechtel who happened to be right there and rescued me.

Hank Randall (Conservation Officer) would pick up a crew of us young boys to go forest fire fighting, Murray Randall, Brian Brownfield, Mark Kaese, Doug Olson, Dwayne Olson, to name a few...we would spend a whole weekend in the bush patrolling the fire line on foot. Each of us was loaded down with a shovel, a pickax and a water tank on our back. We felt grown up and very responsible.

I learned carpentry, commercial fishing (on Dore Lake) and farming skills at the hands of my father. I am grateful to have had the opportunities for all these experiences in the town of Big River.


Zinovich, Leonard, Vivian and family

Leonard Zinovich.

Standing: Len, Brock, Robert.
Sitting: Vivian and Aimee, 2001.

Leonard Garry Zinovich was born in the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert on October 30, 1944, the second child of Emil and Alexandra Zinovich. He has an older sister, Helen and a younger brother, Kenneth. He attended school in Big River and remembers spending a lot of fun time down at the swimming hole and playing hooky under the theatre steps. When he was sixteen years old, he decided to quit school and go commercial fishing with his dad. It wasn't long until he wished he were back in school! He did, however, learn many life-long skills from his dad as he worked with him on the family farm, went commercial fishing both summer and winter and helped his father in his carpentry business in Big River.

As soon as he could drive legally, Len's truck driving career began. He drove for Bob Dunn (after Bob gave him a crash course on driving!), Max Wilson and Bob Schneider.

At the age of eighteen, he returned to school, this time to Kelsey Institute in Saskatoon, where he studied carpentry, apprenticing under his father and obtaining his Journeyman's and Inter-Provincial certificates. However, his dream was always to own a tandem truck, so in 1967, he purchased his first truck and Len Zinovich Trucking company was born. He hasn't looked back since!

On May 16, 1969, Len married Vivian Lee Fontaine, the oldest child of Gerald and Kathleen Fontaine of Debden. Vivian's siblings were Joan, Robert, Alexander and Stanley. Vivian had arrived in Big River in October of 1966 to teach French at the High School. She met Len on a blind date arranged by Stella Hartnett and it was love at first sight! She loved her twenty-five years of teaching French and Music to two generations. Her love of music led her to start a Glee Club, which had a membership of 80 students. The excellent piano accompanist was her good friend and colleague, Lee Cooper. Fifteen of these students formed a Small Singing Group, which competed in a talent contest. As a result of their performance, they were asked by C.K.B.I. to record several songs in the television studio at the station in Prince Albert. These songs were featured as fill-ins, often at noon hour after the news. We were so proud of their accomplishment!

Viv took nine years off so she could be home with her children when they were little. During this time she enjoyed teaching conversational French to adults and directed a community choir.

Len enjoyed emceeing at weddings and community functions. He was the emcee for the Wagon Wheel Saloon at the winter carnival for thirteen consecutive years and entertained with his impersonation of Nestor Pister. He also took over from J .J. Cennon as the emcee for the Heritage Night for several years.

Len and Viv have three children: Leonard Brock (1978), Robert Lee (1981), and Aimee Kathleen (1983). Brock graduated from Big River High School and received the U.R. Scholarship Award, which paid for his tuition for the complete duration of the Engineering program. In 2002, Brock graduated with distinction and co-operative education from the University Of Regina with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Electronic Systems Engineering. After University, Brock began working for Weyerhaeuser - Big River Lumber as the only Process Control Engineer at the new mill and later became the manager of process Control Department.

Robert graduated from Big River High School in 1999 and attended the University of Regina for one year. In the spring of 2000, he started working for his dad and is the Shop Foreman of Len's Trucking Ltd., he loves camping, fishing, and hunting in our beautiful Big River area.

After graduating from Big River High School in 2001, Aimee enrolled in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. She is starting her third year of Elementary Education. Aimee has played Broomball for the past seven years: locally, provincially or nationally for the Big River crusaders (the girls' junior team), the J.T. Royals (a Saskatoon Ladies team), the Regina Sportsman Flames (a ladies team) and the Regina Sportsman (a mixed team). She was chosen female athlete of the year by Saskatchewan Broomball in 2002.

Len and Viv hope to spend the rest of their lives right here in our beautiful town.



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