Даніель Джон Берладин
My paternal heritage is Ukrainian. Both my paternal grandfather, and my paternal grandmother, came to Canada when they were young. Both were born in Austria, most likely Galicia, which was part of the Astro-Hungarian Empire at the time. For one reason or another, I recently had the idea that my paternal grandmother maybe be partially Polish, but I really do not know. They may even be partly German, partly Greek, or even partly Russian. In haphazardly tracing their roots, which is broken down by language barriers, national impoverishment, two world wars and the former iron curtain of the USSR, I am assuming that they were born relatively near our family namesake. By this, I am inferring that our family name most likely comes from a principality, a town, a river, which is located in present day Romania, and a prince who I refer to as a Prince John Berladyn (†1162).
A recurring theme that I have heard all my life in family hearsay is that my paternal grandfather came to Canada via the cargo hold of a ship. He sailed the Atlantic as a young boy stowed away with the livestock in the lower decks of a ship. He was twenty-five years old when he met my sixteen year old maternal grandmother. From this point the story takes an unverified short turn to Toronto where my grandfather and my grandmother were living. My grandmother did not feel the city was a place to raise children and with the government offering land grants for settlers, she became insistent that he quit his job as a Section Master for the Canadian National Railway and pursue the opportunity of owning land elsewhere. Returning to the more common theme, they are said to have ridden oxen from the St. Lawrence to the Settlement Lands of Western Manitoba.
After arriving to their government granted land, my grandfather had to laboriously clear the brush and trees, pick out the stones and boulders, and plant crops. All of this, while yet building his own home himself with his own hands. At each completion of an earned phase of settlement, the government would furnish the next set of necessities to make homesteading and land settlement feasible. First was the granting of land, and the basic transportation to get there. Next, after the land was cleared and made suitable for farming came seed and livestock, more basic tools and commodities, etc. until the Settler was firmly in place. Rumour has it that the first homestead was burned down by neighbours who wanted the particular land and thus forcing my grandparents to start the process all over again.
Another familiar family story is that my grandparents had to trade with Native Indians for mutual survival. At some point for whatever reason the Native Indians of the area, who I believe to be ‘Wild’, had gang raped my grandmother and left her for dead in ditch. This was certainly a hard life which was only made worse by the Great Depression, followed shortly thereafter by the Drought, and ultimately World War II. At some point, near family starvation, the eldest son was sent to Winnipeg in order to seek help back on the farm. He was never heard from again. So the next son was sent. He was said to have never returned either. They found jobs, a comfortable life, and decided upon themselves that there was no reason to ever come back.
My grandfather was said to have had a hard life which did not seem to improve when he passed away. His sons had to dig his grave themselves and deal with the fact that the Priest didn’t even bother to attend. Rather than provide services for the dearly departed, the priest was witnessed in town entertaining the company of woman. For a family of choir boys, and church attendees, this event was said to end much involvement with the “Church” for a good portion of the family.
I myself do not speak Ukrainian. I probably do not understand the Irish. I identify as Canadian, as a British Columbian, as a life long Port Moody, Glenayre resident. At least I used to identify as such. Life long aside from a few recent years in which I just cannot fully find the words to describe. These girls sure help, which is funny, because Uncle Peter always encouraged me to find a Ukrainian girl. Here in all their purity are many Ukrainian angels. They make me cry.