“La Canada! La Canada” (to Canada) answered Metro, a young lad of nine, when asked where the family was going. He and his mother were filling some buckets with water at the village well in Boian, Bukovina, in March 1899. Metro had heard his people talking about a far away land called Canada. His parents had decided to leave their home and emigrate. Preparations were well underway for departure.
The land and railroad agents from Canada had done their work well. They had visited Cernauti and had painted glowing pictures of the New World. Word had filtered down to the villages included Boian. The inhabitants began discussing the disadvantages and advantages of making such a major move. Some said that “Ciine umble cu colaci pe coada. Si nuclei asa sint de mare ca poti sa le arunci in pod cu furca”. (The dogs run around with bread rings on their tails. The walnuts are so large that you can pitch them into the hayloft by the forkful). The advantages outweighed the disadvantages and many decides to emigrate.
The first Romanian settlers in east – central Alberta were Ichim Yourko, his wife Iftinica, their four year – old daughter Ioana and Elie Ravliuk. They arrived in Alberta in 1898 and spent the first winter in a bordei (covered dug – out) near present day Andrew. It was a miserable lonely time, made more so by the death of the Yurko’s only child. Ichim and Ravliuk wrote home and encouraged others to come.
The first group, consisting of about a dozen families, arrived the following year in March. Two months later the Tomas arrived with a larges group including Metro’s family and disembarked in Strathcona, the end of the railroad. Petrre who had come earlier was there to meet them and began scolding the new arrivals.
Why did you come?” he asked. “There is nothing but bush, water and wilderness here. How do you expect to keep alive?”
Another man told him bluntly, “Keep your mouth shut. Your father-in-law is here, too!”
“What!” exclaimed Petre, “the old bushy – haired one came too”
Two of the women began crying. A few of the more cool – headed men calmed the disturbance and the entire group made its way to the immigration hall.
These pioneers had taken along with them what they could and what they thought they would need. They had transported boxed, bags and trunks. Of course they were all dressed in their native garb and women had blankets, tapestries, bolts of cloth, vegetable was to prove a godsend when planted in the virgin Alberta soil. The men brought sickles, scythes, axes and the few carpenters among them had their complete sets of tools. One of them had even brought a small wooden plough. Few, if any, had money and no one spoke English. But they had courage, most were young and were doggedly determined to succeed in this new environment.
The Foremost persons or group of people migrated to Canada to a place called BOIAN, Alberta from Bucovina of Roumanian lineage and who spoke the Roumanian language and in many instances these persons spoke the dual languages, that is the Roumanian and Ukrainian language.
These persons as cited were of peasant stock very few of them have had a day in school, and practically all were of the Orthodox Faith, that is of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The following names are as follows:
Mr. Elie Raviliuk, April in year 1898.
Mr. Echim Yurko, April in year 1898.
Mr. Nick Iftodi, April in year 1898, and family, wife from Molodia Bucovina.
Mr. Kostantine Iftody, April in year 1898, and family, wife from Molodia Bucovina.
Mr. loan Iftodi, April in year 1898, and family, wife from Molodia Bucovina.
The following arrived in March 1899
Mr. Kostantine Soprovich and wife Mr. Petra Esak and wife Mr. loan W. Toma and wife Mr. Kostantine Harabagiu
Mr. Dumitro Fieca and wife Mr. Dumitru Moscaliuk and wife Mr. loan Semeniuk and wife Nicolai Feica and wife Mr. Toder Kelba
Mr. Nicolai Hutzcal
Mr. Petra Cucheran
The following names of persons arrived in May 1899:
Mr. Mihai Yurko and wife
Mr. Toder A. Toma and wife
Mr. loan T. Toma and wife
Mr. Vasili T. Toma, single
Mr. George T. Toma, single
Mr. Sava Serbu and wife Maria.
Mr. loan Serbu, single
Mr. Dumitrum Nicolai, Mihai Serbu
Mr. Nicolai Hauca and wife and Dumirtu
Mr. Nicolai Kelba and wife Domnica and son loan.
Mr. Stefan Scrimbets
Mr. George Mehalcheon and wife
Mr. Zaharia Mehalcheon and wife and family
Mr. Petra Harasim and wife
Mr. Vasili Harasim and wife and family
Mr. loan Cucheran and wife
Mr. Vasili Gorda and wife
Mr. Vasile Svecla and wife
Mr. Nazar Yurko and wife
Mr. Petra Hutzcal and wife
Mr. loan Patreniuk and wife
Mr. Petra Bizovie
Mr. Condra Scira, single