It was a walk down memory lane for one family as a new farmstead was unveiled at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.
The farmstead includes five structures: a house, granary, chicken coop and two barns. Three of the buildings are new to the museum, while two are from an adjacent farm in the Ukraine Cultural Heritage Village; all came from the communities of Innisfree and Amelia-Cookville.
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Ukrainians first started coming to Alberta in the 1890s. From 1915 to 1919, Alberta received immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia. The aim of the new exhibit is to educate visitors about Galician heritage and culture. The farmstead includes allows visitors to examine architecture, domestic living practices and decorations from the distinctive community.
Genia Siak, 88, lived in the house that was transplanted to the site from 1929 to 1950 with her four brothers, three sisters and parents.
“We used to have a lot of toys around the house. There was a sand place. We had a garden,” she said.
“We’d be going to church and we would have company. We’d all be playing outside and be close to it. Oh yes, there was memories.”
Siak, 88, said she was happy to see the house donated to the museum.
“It was going to be destroyed. It was going to be demolished. It made a home elsewhere,” she said, adding some work was done to prepare the house for the museum.
“It’s different than what I lived in. There are some places they re-did. There was a pantry they re-did.”
She said she hopes visitors get something out of the farmstead she once called home.
“What it was like years back, how you lived, where you were,” she said.
Granddaughter Natasha Siak had the opportunity to walk through the house with her grandmother.
“It was really interesting to see my grandma walk me through it and say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember this being here, this is exactly how I remember it growing up.’ It was nostalgic for sure,” she said.
“To see her get emotional and happy to see everything, it was just nice to be here with her.”
Gordon Yaremchuk, president of the Friends of The Ukrainian Village Society, said the new farmstead is particularly important as 2017 marks the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, as well as the province’s designation of 2016-2017 as the Year of the Ukrainian-Canada.
“Ukrainians helped build this province, build this country, as well as the Galician aspect of it,” he said.
“I think the war in Ukraine and these anniversaries this year has brought it closer to people’s attention and I think more people are becoming interested in their Ukrainian roots.”
Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman brought opening remarks to the event and took a tour of the house with a couple re-enacting a typical Galician routine.
“It’s a great way to make sure, as we watch what’s happening in other parts of the world where certainly there’s a lot of tension right now, to find ways to celebrate all cultures and to be able to honour the roles newcomers player as well as continue to play,” she said.
The museum is located about 35 kilometres east of Edmonton, just off the Yellowhead.