by Mike Spack
Part 2

Choosing my father first rather than mother does not mean that he was closest to me for nothing could be further from the truth. There is no particular reason for this other than perhaps wishing to provide some background so that when mother is the focus the obstacles she faced for many years trying to keep the family together are made clear.

Being the eldest of five children as I am, one would think that there would be some memories of the earlier pro-school family experiences of our parent's marriage. Unfortunately such is not the case. Indeed it is probably true that many persons are not able to go back so far in their lives. A few photos remain which lead to recall of some events but far too few of them. Recall improves however around ten years of age and particularly high school days and especially in the time  period after joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 after which that is of course another story.

As mentioned previously, I was the eldest born March 5. 1922. followed by Rudy who passed away May 6, 1992 in Rideau Park. Brandon Mental Health Centre, arriving on this earth on February 11, 1923. Obviously no time was lost to have a second child. Henry, called Andy always, was born September 15. 1927. unfortunately also passed away December 23  1988. On April 19. 1930, a girl arrived and was named Nellie who resides now in Burnaby. British Columbia. The youngest and brightest of the clan is Margaret born December 22, 1935, in the middle of the depression years. She resides in Edmonton at the present time. Note family tree, a rough guide to be sure, front page.


Wedding Picture (Fall 1920 or 1921)
Nettie Sochasky and William Spak

Top (relatives?): Mr. Mandryk (Elm Creek) ~ Mr. Walowski ~ little "uncle"
Middle: Next to father is Auntie Lena Sclaric (mother's sister)
Sitting: Mary Golovitch and sister Sophie or Anne

A father and very young son walking hand in hand down one of the streets in north Point Douglas. Father watching his sons play games cheering him on. Father showing affection to his wife in a number of ways. Father at a picnic with his family. Father taking mother out to a a social evening. Father at the dinner table sharing some thoughts about his work and other experiences. These are in part images of what a fine family is all about concerning a father's role.

Personally these images mean little for I remember not even one of these in relationships with father. In all probability the same holds true for father's relationship with my brothers and sister Nellie while sister Margaret, born in 1935, was too young to remember prior to father's leaving for Vancouver. Admittedly when I was a toddler, one or more happier occasions must have occurred but memory is dim for that period of time. I do have a picture of Father holding Rudy and me in his arms. It is recognized that surely there must have been many happy times for our parents particularly in the early years. Margaret sent to each of us a lovely and precious framed picture of mother and father on their wedding day surrounded by relatives and friends. No doubt Nellie had the picture and passed it on.

Sad it is to reflect upon such negative feelings about one's father. One must however face truths it seems to me and hence this rather emotional recall. This is not to say that I dwell in self-pity or ask for condolences from others. Certainly I was not the only one in this position. What about my brothers and sisters? What about the many other inner city kids in so-called "broken" homes In Point Douglas, an inner city area. There were literally hundreds if not thousands In similar situations in Canada especially in the depression years. Even today one notes deplorable conditions especially in inner city and on Indian reserves. Poverty does indeed rear its ugly head in many places in Canada including many districts where one would not expect it to occur.


Many years ago in one of my many trips to Winnipeg related to my responsibilities as a Associate Professor of Education, Brandon University, I stopped for lunch at a motel in St. Vital. Circumstance or call it a happy coincidence, provided information about our family which did indeed indicate there were happy family events. Seated at a stool waiting to give my order for lunch. I turned and saw someone I felt certain I had seen previously. A white-haired gentleman sat eating his lunch and he noticed my looking at him. I asked him if we knew each other and I told him my name. He answered quickly a smile on his face saying the name" Meechal" in Ukrainian (Michael with the ch sounded harshly) for indeed our ethnic family background, both parents side, is Ukrainian with evidence of Polish and Austrian citizenship since part of Ukraine (Gal Ida) was taken over by Poland and Austria for a period of time prior to the 1914-18 World War 1.

Then he gave me his name and It was a surname I remembered namely Waluk (probably changed from Walowski). His first name I do not recall but Steve will do. The Waluks I knew lived near us on one of the streets in north Point Douglas and rather hazily I recalled that the elder Waluk appeared to be an uncle, but more likely a cousin or a close friend.

As an aside, I knew very little about my mother and father/s family in Ukraine but some information had been written down. Then sister Nellie with some discussion with sister Margaret sent an account which will be written about later. Our father immigrated to Canada, it is believed, with an older person since he was only a boy of 13 or 14. This person may have been a relative and probably so. This is hearsay knowledge so one stands corrected on this. As to marriage, my estimate is that he married mother in 1921 with the first child yours truly arriving March 5, 1922. Some research is ongoing.

Back to the Waluks. Steve then proceeded to tell me that the Waluks and Spacks when they lived on Hallet Street located a couple of streets from Norquay School, were very close friends. Information followed which delighted me to say the least. He recalled my being a toddler and remembered Rudy as well. His words went something like this:

"Maybe you were born when your family lived on Hallet. Oh yes! Those were good times in the twenties after World War 1 and our families were doing pretty well. Your Dad was making good money as a radiator mechanic and do you know he was the first one on the street to buy a car? A Model A Ford (or is it Model T?). A great singer he was! Do you know he went to many banquets especially weddings to sing? And we used to go on picnics as well as visit the Mundryks at their farm in Elm Creek about 50  miles from Winnipeg. Yes, those were good days but of course you know what happened to your Dad. Why he took to drink I don't know but he lost one Job after the other and the depression came. Those were hard times in the early thirties."

We chatted for a while but then he had to leave and my lunch was getting rather cold and we said our goodbyes. To this day I wonder why we did not exchange addresses and phone numbers. Perhaps I was too numb with all this information coming forth but also it was a time of being very busy with so much on my mind that family history was being left to a later time. Which is a weak excuse indeed.


Yes, the image of my riding in a car down one of the streets leading out of Winnipeg is a memory faint though it may be. Mundryks whose name we found out later was changed to Mandryk by son Alec, did own a farm in Elm Creek. Both Mr. and Mrs. Mundryk were a happy couple. I remember this well. Their faces were weatherbeaten, dark brown, and wrinkled from the sun. One visit when I was in high school to the Elm Creek farm was for about two weeks but Rudy was not with me for some reason or other. Remembering was easy on this occasion of the visit around 1935 or 36, when on the first day of arrival was told that it will be up early when the sun rises to work in the field with son Alec and his Dad to stock the sheaves. Alec and I with gloves on would stock while Mr. Mundryk would handle the binder. I can see him now on that binder and the four horses pulling it with "stookers" Alec and yours truly trying to keep up to him.

The wheat had to be ripe enough for stooking. First the grain had to be cut and tied by the four horse-drawn binder which "spit out" the sheaves from the side. Following behind. Alec and I would pick up a couple of tied sheaves and place them upright against each other the heads facing the sky. Then two more on the sides and possibly one or more made up the stock. And so It went on all day with breaks in midmorning, mid afternoon and lunch. Weather permitting, the end of the day came when the sun was near setting. Those "breaks" were so welcome!

And there I was a city kid not having a clue about farming nor with a body used to the tasks at hand! A body as you would expect that protested vigorously! Added to this was finding out a new allergy which was the dust of the fields. Proper clothing was in order as well for the sheaves tended to chafe the inside of the arms. That night was decisive in my deciding not to become a farmer. This was only the first day because it was up and at 'em the next day if the weather  held out and the day after!

Still, one must admit that in the setting sun with an orangey glow permeating the sheaves and field and the stocks upright standing as if so proudly, the scene was beautiful and one had this great feeling of accomplishment in being an important part in making it happen. And believe It or not. Alec and I did keep up with Mr. Mundryk even if some stocks (especially mine) were a bit shaky and subject to the wind knocking them down!

A sad scene for Kath and me many years later after Mr. Mundryk had passed away, was reading of the joint service to be held in Elm Creek for both Alec Mandryk and his mother. We were delayed a bit on that sunny day in summer but found the cemetery and the the crowd of people around the Mandryk plots and caskets. The service had just begun. Later we met friends and family at the social followed by a visit to the old homestead where our family had visited. How often does the burial of the son and mother take place at the same time? We did feel sad on the way home.


Kathy and Mike Spack
History 1
History 2
History 3
History 4
History 5
History 6
History 7
Photo Album 1
Photo Album 2
Photo Album 3
Photo Album 4
Photo Album 5
Photo Album 6
Family Tree

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