Olga Vesey's Biography

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From personal writing to granddaughter Margaret Olga Westaway, in 1990

My parents came out to Canada in the year 1903 with their families, from a small town called Tarascha near the City of Kiev which is the capital of Ukraine. My mother Anna had been married to my father Andrew about a year. She was 18 years-old and he was 25. All of mother’s family migrated with them including: my grandmother and grandfather Mowchan, my married aunt Nadia, her husband Vasyl, and their small daughter Christina, my four unmarried uncles – Mike, Stephen, John, and Peter.

The voyage across the ocean was dreadful. It was made in a cattle boat and took six weeks. The weather was horrible and several passengers died and were buried in sacks at sea. Aunt Nadia almost died. But eventually they arrived in a new country. They took a train to Winnipeg where they made their home. The adults found jobs and eventually built a fine house where they lived for several years. It still stands to this day, a tribute to their industry and ambition. Later on they decided to move on to Saskatchewan where they took up farms in the south-west of the province. Our parents remained in Winnipeg because they had acquired a family of small children.

Dad had bought two lots in the north-end of the city and built a little house for mother and his growing family which eventually consisted of two boys and four girls.

I myself have two very early memories. They go back to the time when I was about 2-1/2 years old. In the more vivid one I see myself and my older sister Eva, aged five, crouching in the corner of the living room. We are both petrified with fright. Outside through the eastern window we can see a long silvery ribbon across the sky. It is Halley’s Comet. We can hear our parents in the kitchen speaking in excited tones, “A comet, a comet, there’s going to be a war!”

Recently I spoke to my sister to see if she remembered the occasion. She did. She also remembered going for a walk on the prairies where she noticed the entire surface of the field covered with a silvery powder. What was it? Maybe some of the celestial dust of the comet? No one knows. I do not recall this incident as I was not very old and maybe I did not accompany her on the walk.

Another memory comes to mind, probably even of an earlier occasion. I am standing in the empty living room between my mother and father. They have been painting it and are gazing at the walls. I am holding in my hand a little toy rooster of lead painted in iridescent colors. The tail end is hollow and is filled with water. When you blow into it there is a pleasant gurgling sound.

I distinctly remember the birth of my youngest sister which happened when I was almost six years old. I came home from play one day to find my mother with a brand new baby sister. She was beautiful and dressed up in an exquisite pink and white outfit and smelt like a flower. Her name was Nadia, which in English is translated as Hope. There was another sister in between named Vera. I should have been named Charity or some such name but they named me Olga in hour of the great queen who was the first to become Christian in Old Rus.

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