A Letter from the Neighbour
From: Peter Toderash, Manitoba
To: Dan Berladyn, British Columbia
Date: January 1st, 2021
Dear The Berladyn Family,
It is my priviledge to be writing to you about your family as I will be addressing all your questions and things that may not be clear. Yes, you can tell Ike that you are connecting with me and you can send him a copy of the e-mails if you wish. As you read the book you will find that it has a lot of information about White Beech and the people of the community. There may be some errors in my writing but I will do my best.
The Toderash farm
Was located SW 28-26-30 W1 in the Rural Municipality of Livingston # 331 Saskatchewan. This was on the same section of land as the Berladyn family farm. The section has 640 acres and is quartered into four of 160 acres each. Our place was 4 miles North of White Beech, on the North side of Ditch Road, Berladyn farm was next to it to the East. We had 24 acres open to crop. The rest was bush and pasture.
The Berladyn farm
The farm was SE 28-26-30 W1 in the Rural Municipality of Livingston # 331 Saskatchewan. This was 4 miles North of White Beech, then 1 mile East on the North side of Ditch Road. Ditch Road was the main route from White Beech to Swan River. This was 3 miles from the Manitoba border. From the Berladyn farm to Swan River was 17 miles. Swan River was a town with population of about 2,000. This was the closest bigger town as White Beech hamlet had less than 100 people for a total population. Yorkton, Saskatchewan, was a city of just under 10,000 people. It was a 110 miles away.
There was an intersection and the Berladyn house was on the NW corner. The Hungarian hall was on the NE corner of the intersection. Now on the SE corner was a store built by Pete Cwir in about 1932. It opened for about two or three years and then it sat vacant for quite a while. In about maybe 1945, the store was converted into an Anglican Church as you will read all about it in the Book. From Toderash house to Berladyn house was just under 1 mile as it was on the same section.
The Porcupine Forest Reserve was just 2 miles North of the Toderash and the Berladyn places. On the farm there was no electricity and coal oil lamps were used. There was a wood heater, a wood cook stove, and no water works. Out-houses were used both in the Summer and in the Winter. This was normal in those times. Some people bathed/washed once per week or more often. Many men very rarely bathed except during the Summer time when going swimming, or bathing, in the river. Every morning people washed their face and hands, and combed their hair.
In 1956 there was progress in the Swan River town when they installed a water and sewer system. Until then homes, businesses, restaurants all used out-houses. Wood was used for heating and this continued in the homes and business places for a while. Then homes and businesses switched to using fuel oil, but some still continued on using wood and coal.
The Berladyn family were Ukrainian Catholic and their church was 1 mile West and 1 1⁄2 miles South. It was rarely open, maybe one or two Sundays a year. The Greek Orthodox church was located 2 miles South from their place and they sometimes attended. On that intersection was the Greek Orthodox Church, The Kiev Hall, and Ste Demetro Cemetery. I do not recall the Berladyns attending the Anglican Church kitty corner from their House. Church Cantor James Berladyn rests in peace there. (1891-1955)
I do remember Rosie talking about church and spiritual things while everyone in the house listened carefully to her words. Mr. Berladyn was a Dyauk (Ukranian word for Cantor). The Cantor leads worship for the preparation of the Mass or worship service. The family was large and was well respected in the community. James as a Cantor officiated in our house the funeral for my brother Mike in January 1948. My brother Mike was buried in the Ste Demetro Cemetery, even though it took a week to dig the grave by four men in the frozen ground.
I, Peter have never heard of this….. “James Berladyn, my grand-father, I am told James is not his real name. His real given name is Joachim. At least that’s another rumour“. The only thing I can see is Yaukeiw. Which is the Ukrainian word for James. Possibly the word Yaukeiw which in Ukrainian means with James. I feel 80% sure on this direction of the word. Ukrainian is my first language and I started to learn English when I was about age six.
I have heard of James being called Jemes by my mother but that is the Ukrainian Accent. I assume that Joachim is a similar case to a language accent for the Ukrainian James word. I have heard many words miss pronounced by those who speak more than one language. Many people learned words by sounds. For example: if someone asked another person where was Crookalay, they would think: “Oh you mean Crooked Lake. It is few miles from Made Lake”. Think of a Ukrainian accent
Life on the Farm
Cows, calves, horses, pigs, chicken. dogs, cats, garden. Lots of kids. Farms were small, but kids were many. Although there wasn’t much money but we had fun. Lots of children. Mackenzie was the voting district in Saskatchewan which included the White Beech area. Livingston was the rural municipality of the land in White Beech and area.
These were like Berladyn’s horses:
Work in the Community
There was work available in the community like picking roots on a farm after the land was cleared. Picking stones on the field and putting them in piles. Then later two horses and a stombolt (stone boat) would haul the load to the edge of the field. In the 1950’s there was farm and bush work for men at .35 to .40 cents an hour. Bush work in the Winter time was work cutting spruce pulp wood, trees for lumber, sawing lumber in the mill, some trapping mink, weasel, squirrel, fox. Many of the farmers worked on their farm in the Summer and in the bush for the Winter. Except those who had several cows. They stayed home to look after the milking and the selling of cream to the creamery.
There were picture shows in White Beech. In Swan River there were three theatres as well as a drive in theatre in the summer time. There were dances, weddings, picnics, church celebration, fairs, rodeo. In Swan River, school dances, socials, and baseball games, school concerts, evening card games. Neighbourhood visits. No invites, just go and visit. All were always welcome. The boys would go exploring with their sling shots looking for hawk nests.
The Berladyn Family
I recall one time just before Christmas, in their home, James Berladyn lead the singing in Ukrainian Christmas carols. Ike, Alex, myself and all the rest of the family that was there, joined in. He was teaching us Ukrainian Christmas carols. He had a good singing voice. Medium base. Alex at that time said he wanted to be a radio announcer and his dad encouraged him, this while telling him he that would be speaking to the public.
I recall Alex call his dad Pops. They all had a good relationship. They had many family times together with Annie and Fred Kostur and their children who lived about 2 miles away and also Nellie and John Krochak and their children . John was a violinist and a farmer. Late in life he moved to Yorkton, where Rosie, Annie, Nellie, along with others of the family were already.
His years were from 1891 to 1955, and he farmed. He was also cantor in the Catholic Church and also in the Greek Orthodox Church as well. When he came to our place, he sat on the bench and told stories, and my brothers would listen. Mr Musney would come over and they talked lots. He was about 5 ft 5inch medium built, a bit lighter than his son Peter that I saw in his funeral picture. I think he did have gray hair and possibly bald. One story I remember that a horse laid down and refused to pull his load. So in the field they took some straw and lit a fire beside the horse. The horse soon got up and pulled the load. Another story was about a horse that used to bite.
They had three work horses. They were big Clydesdales. They were a bit older. They also had chickens, a pig, and they had a cow. They had some horse drawn implements but the open land was maybe 25 acres and that was hardly enough to grow grain for the animals. They mowed wild hay for the Winter. Their pasture was fenced and it included the river for water. You had to open the gate to come into the yard and you had to close it so their animals didn’t get out. They had a nice dog name Laddie, he was gray colour like a wolf. The whole family liked that dog, he got a lot of attention. Their out-house was West of the house about 50 feet beside a small bush. The river ran about 300 feet back from the road, but near the house it jutted inwards about 75 feet from their house. There was a nice safe place to swim or bath. Mr. Berladyn had a reasonable grasp of the English language even though he had a noticeable accent.
James Berladyn and Lena (Kuchylema) were married in about 1919, They may have lived in Saskatoon as we see that their son Peter was born there in 1929. I think they came to the farm possibly close to the same time as my parents in about 1937. The first 20 or 25 acres were opened by scrubbing the trees out by axe which was hard work. I believe they paid one dollar a day if they hired another farmer to help.
Lena was 14 and James was maybe age 28 when they got married in 1919. There were harsh years in 1920 to 1930, when were bad times, and the years of 1930 to 1940 were even worse. After the war 1945 things started to pick up. 1950 and on time were getting better. I do not know the extent of those times, but what? This is 2020 -2021 and things maybe be bad or worse in other ways. Stress is here as it was there.
They came from Galicia, which you can think of like provinces in Western Ukraine under Austrian Rule. They lived in villages and the houses were numbered. There is a possibility that there are some records somewhere. It appears that the Berladyn surname is most common in Western Ukraine than in any other county by far so I would assume (80% chance) that it is a Ruthenian or Ukrainian name.
Toderash name is most common in Romania, so the name could be Romanian, but since the borders have been moved many times it is possible that a few hundred years ago it could have been Romanian, but is now in Ukraine and so it became Ukrainian. By no means is the Berladyn or Toderash name Doukhobors, or Jewish, as someone has asked. I have written about the Doukhobors in my book Tales from White Beech. ( Without prejudice).
I knew the whole family reasonably well; except not at all Steve, Bill, John. I knew Peter reasonably well as he came to our place often when I was between two and seven years old . I knew Rosie, Annie, Nellie, and I went to School with Ike, Alex, Orest, Frank. I was with them and their parents many times.
Their father James was friendly and easy to talk to. I have never seen him angry arrogant or disdainful. I have never seen him mean or hard to get along with. He was always encouraging and a nice man to talk to all of the time. I knew him at least from 1945 to 1955. He was usually a happy man. helpful, explaining, teaching. He did serve as a Cantor in the local area and many people knew him.
He may have been 5'5. About like Peter’s height. In his last 3 or 4 years his asthma quite was bad. He was getting worse. He was having a breathing problems and couldn’t work very much. In his last three or four years he would go to the Vimmy Hotel in Swan River with the men on a Saturday night. He would drink beer with the men which was 10 cents a glass. He also ate planters salted peanut for 10 cents a package. Saturday night was an outing for men when they sat around, relaxed, visited, and drank beer.
Lena Berladyn (1901–1998)
Lena was a very nice lady and I was always comfortable in their house. Whenever I would meet her it was always a comforting conversation. She was pleasant, calm, and talked with us seeming to be quite happy. I had a new 1957 Dodge after I moved to Swan River. I worked in the Plywood factory. I was going to Yorkton, she asked if she could ride with me and she did. We talked almost all of the way. She didn’t come back as by that time Rosie, Annie, and Nellie lived there already.
In 1957 Frank was twelve years old, in grade five, and maybe Frank and Lena already had moved to Yorkton. They were not extremely poor or depressed and could get by on what they had. They had food, and warm clothing when I knew them. One time maybe in 1952, when James was still living, Lena took a trip to Vancouver visiting for one month one spring when flowers began to bloom. After she came back, she was at our place visiting and quite excitedly told us all about the Vancouver trip. We were happy for her. James took care of the family while she was on the visit to what would be her sons place I am assuming. My mother told me that Lena’s maiden name was Kuchylema, and she was fourteen when she got married.
That had a phone, perhaps possibly 1955 – 1957, when only Frank, Ike, and Lena were left on the farm. Ike had just started dating Eleanor who is his wife. James was gone in 1955. I witnessed family harmony and a strong bond between the children and parents. They were always pleasant, hospitable and easy to get along with. I was there many times. I knew them from 1945 to 1955 and this is what I saw. They did have lots of family times with Annie and Nellie and their families.
The Berladyn Children
Annie Berladyn (1918 – ?)
>Married to Fred Kostur and they lived 3 1⁄2 miles South. They had children and later divorced. Annie (Berladyn) Kostur remarried and moved to Yorkton. Fred sold his farm and bought the garage in White Beech, where he supplied fuel to farmers in the area. He had some other ventures that he was involved with.
Nellie Berladyn (1920–1990)
Married to John Krochak and they farmed 1 1⁄2 miles South. They had several children and I only knew Jerry and Verna as they may have been a couple years younger than me. My sister Lena knew Nellie and Rosie quite well. Her husband John played the violin at weddings and dances and so did his brother Steve. His son Jerry although 13, or maybe 14, played the violin and the guitar quite well.
John Berladyn (1923–2006)
I heard of him leaving to Winnipeg maybe, but I did not know him, but I may have seen him. I heard his dad say nice comments about him. I do remember one of the boys coming home to visit and he had a Nash car, but I didn’t remember who it was. I was a nice car so I noticed it. I was young and I think I heard that he left to Winnipeg to work. Not sure if it was Bill or John.
Steve Berladyn (1924 -1985)
Only read his obit but have never seen him or his wife Mary (1924 – 2011), and son Rickey, Surrey, BC.
Bill Berladyn (1926–2013)
I am not sure when he left to Winnipeg.
Peter Berladyn (1929–2015)
I knew him as he was at our place many times. He was the same age as my brother John within weeks. I think he did start to farm but gave it up, and I think he left home about 1946 and went to Winnipeg. He was born in Saskatoon so his parents must have lived there and all others older than peter must have been born there and they may have then been on that voting list which may show more information as well.
Rosie Berladyn (1933 – ?)
Rosie was married to Tony Pachoka in about 1952. I went to their wedding on the farm. They had a workshop or garage built of logs about fifty feet north of their house. It had rafter beams of hewn logs spaced about four feet apart for a ceiling, but was open that a person could jump up and grab onto it. At the wedding the men gathered there, sitting on the benches telling jokes and visiting. There was a man named John Protsak who jumped up, grabbed onto the ceiling rafter beam, turned around and hung by his toes and head on the bottom totally upside down. I enjoyed seeing this. Tony told us a slightly coloured joke while sitting on benches inside the work shop. I wondered about why he told it as I thought it was barn talk. Rosie was Catholic and told Godly spiritual stories. She was a friend of my sister Lena who was close to Rosie’s age. Rosie was a likable person. There was comfort in talking with Rosie, her mother, or her dad.
Ike Berladyn (1936 – ?)
Ike played hockey at school during recess and at noon with the guys using a sponge ball and hockey stick made of sticks or shaped a willow with a natural bent blade hewed down. We didn’t use skates just regular boots on the packed down snow. There was Ike, Alex, Winston Fields, Donny Green, Maybe Carl Boszak, and others. One day after Christmas Ike came to school with a real hockey stick that was bought in a store.
Ike was good in school/hockey. I remember Ike memorizing some school work before exams one time and I heard him say that Michael Faraday invented electricity (He actually invented the electric motor in 1922).
Ike and Alex jointly bought a beautiful Blue 1941 Chevrolet for $575.00 in the summer of 1954. It was a 2 door 5 passenger coup with an exterior sun visor, rear fender skirts, and I think it may have had white wall tires. It had a radio as not all cars had radios, and an aerial on the right side of the car not as shown in these pictures. Ike and Alex attached a fox tail to the top of the aerial and it waived around as they drove.
The car was not as low as you see in the picture, and did okay on the country roads. Mr Berladyn their dad was so happy with that and I remember when he our sitting on the bench in our house, and he said it was a very good car and could last for 10 years. It was a nice dark blue car and Ike drove it most of the time. In the early summer of 1955 when Ike started courting Eleanor with this car I went to the drive- in shows with them many times, and we always had an enjoyable time. Ike lived on the farm South side of the river, and Eleanor lived on the farm on North side of the same river about five miles East and I mile North from Ike’s place.
Alex Berladyn (1938–2007)
Alex worked for William Serota near Hyas Sask at harvest time in the summer of 1955 (put your finger on White Beech map move it 1 inch down and 3 inches to the left find Hyas). Yorkton was 30 miles South of Canora Sask being 110 miles from the Berladyn farm. While he was working there he wrote me a letter describing the work he enjoyed and also how well they treated him as he stayed with them.
Alex and Ike were usually together a lot and went places together. I could describe Alex as talkative, explorative, adventurous, and liked to talk to people where Ike was a bit quieter. I think the first time I had saw them separate was when Alex started to worked in Yorkton and Ike stayed in White Beech on the farm. It may have been hard for Ike to leave the farm when he just started dating Eleanor. Usually before that where you would see one, you would see the other.
Orest Berladyn (1941–1976)
When I read Orest’s obituary a few years ago. It was sad as I could picture him when he started school. He was little boy with blond hair, and he was doing his work from the ‘think and do’ book in school. Ike and Alex looked after Orest well. They walked the two miles to school each way and each day. In his early grades he was sick for maybe a week or so. It was said that he had rheumatic fever and his heart may have been effected. I do remember that when he was sick, I was worried about him and I was hoping that he would be alright.
After he left school he went to Yorkton where Alex already was there working delivering coal to homes in the City as they used coal at that time for heating. I think that Orest’s first job in Yorkton may have been selling CAA Automobile coverage memberships to people. Internet, Goggle, Facebook have been wonderful to follow friends. Now I know why years ago I googled Berladyn’s and wondering how they were doing. I think the connections lasted many years as there were many good memories.
Frank Berladyn (1945–2005)
I saw Frank’s obituary a few years ago. I felt quite sad. He was a young man. A very handsome man. I always wondered how he made out in work career, family and etc. He was the youngest of the eleven. I always knew of the family strong bond and they would look after Frank.
I didn’t know that Frank was born in the Swan River Hospital, but it makes sense as it was the closest hospital. Most children in those days were born at home attended by a mid-wife. I also did not know that his middle name was Gerald. I knew of their strong family bond in their school days that they looked after each other quite well.
The Berladyn family children names are almost the same as our Toderash family children names like John, Mike, Lena, Bill, Peter, Annie.
Steve Toderash DOB
Was born April 1945 and was a few months older than Frank Berladyn, their formative years bonding a reach over a long span of time, and yet this is not with everyone.
With pleasure I write without prejudice or malice as this is what I believe I saw and knew but however there will likely be some errors but better with errors than not writing at all.
May the readers find a blessing in the reading,
Peter Toderash, Manitoba