Small Town Time-line

Seaway News - - News - NICK SEEBRUCH ni­

The fol­low­ing is an out­line of the birth, ex­pan­sion and de­cline of a small town dear to me in West­ern Canada.

In 1903: Nick­ola Wolochatiuk and his weary fam­ily reach the fi­nal stage of their em­i­gra­tion from Gali­cia, Ukraine. They dis­em­bark from a train in Bran­don, North­ern Man­i­toba and make their way to the vil­lage of Ethel­bert, pop­u­la­tion 1,200. The hard­ships of home­steading lie ahead: find­ing their way to their al­lo­cated quar­ter of land; build­ing rudi­men­tary shel­ter; clear­ing the land; cop­ing with drought, bliz­zards, dust storms, in­sects and The De­pres­sion. De­spite many hard­ships, the farm be­gins to ex­pand and pros­per. By 1931 Ethel­bert’s pop­u­la­tion climbs to 3,434.

1928: his son, Nick, my fa­ther, gives up farm­ing to seek bet­ter work in the min­ing town of Sud­bury, North­ern On­tario. He mar­ries Mary Wa­sylenki, also a first- gen­er­a­tion Ukraini­anCana­dian. In 1944 they move to Toronto.

1951: my dad’s brand-new Chevro­let makes the fam­ily’s pil­grim­age to Ethel­bert. I’m eleven; Aunty Polly puts me to work churn­ing cream into but­ter, feed­ing the skim to the pigs and har­vest­ing beets from the garden to make borscht. Ethel­bert’s pop­u­la­tion is now 2.118. I watch men stook­ing sheaves of wheat; horse-drawn wagons are still be­ing used to work the fields, but trucks haul grain to the big el­e­va­tor.

2005: I ar­rive in Ethel­bert from Van­cou­ver, via thumb and bi­cy­cle, with my dog Kee­sha. Ethel­bert’s pop­u­la­tion has plum­meted to 383. The rail­way tracks have been torn up. Sev­eral stores have closed. I visit my grand­fa­ther’s home­stead, now oc­cu­pied by Greg Re­haluk and his wife Ar­lene (nee Wolochatiuk). They are strug­gling to stay with farm­ing, but they lack suf­fi­cient cap­i­tal to buy the so­phis­ti­cated equip­ment. “Go big or go home” is the de­mand­ing motto of to­day’s cor­po­rate farm­ing.

2018: Ethel­bert is one of the many stops along our 13,000 km., 47- day drive to Bri­tish Columbia. Mo­torists have to give way to mon­ster com­bine har­vesters on the ru­ral roads. Many of the vil­lages have been re­duced to tiny print on de­tailed road maps, or mem­o­ries marked by faded road signs. Most of Ethel­bert’s busi­nesses are gone. Main street is just a weath­ered col­lec­tion of empty homes, stores, ma­chine shops and churches. Other build­ings have been lev­elled, re­duced to their con­crete foun­da­tions.

Grey­hound an­nounces that in Oc­to­ber it will be ter­mi­nat­ing all Prairie Prov­ince bus ser­vice.

Greg and Ar­lene now rent out their farm to cash-crop­pers. They have taken the valiant step of op­er­at­ing “Baba’s Cor­ner Store”, the only re­main­ing re­tail busi­ness in Ethel­bert. Their son Michael works in the kitchen, help­ing to pre­pare each day’s freshly-made take-out spe­cial, such as home-made soup, stew, chili, borscht or pizza. They sell a full range of goods, rang­ing from hard­ware items, ba­sic gro­ceries, snacks and beer, wine and liquor.

It’s 6:00 pm when we first see their store. Its ap­pear­ance leads us to be­lieve it too is out of busi­ness. The win­dows are barred and shut­tered, ow­ing to a prob­lem with van­dal­ism and breakins. No lights are vis­i­ble. How­ever, all three are in­side, work­ing over­time at the myr­iad of chores associated with run­ning a re­tail busi­ness.

Ar­lene has been coura­geously ac­tive in pro­mot­ing sev­eral cre­ative ideas to save her vil­lage from the down­ward spiral of de­cline. The town coun­cil is def­i­nitely aware of her pres­ence. Oh, how I wish her ef­forts and plans can stave off that im­pend­ing ru­ral tsunami!

The an­nual Team Corn­wall Golf Fun Day at­tracts people from out­side our city to come and en­joy a round of golf at Sum­mer­heights Golf Links. This year saw Belleville Mayor Taso Christo­pher join up with Mayor Leslie O’shaugh­nessy’s four­some.

I’m think­ing of do­ing a story on tat­toos. What’re your tips? What are some of the worst mis­takes newbies make when they get their first tat­too?

On be­half of the fam­ily of Bobby Lafram­boise, we would like to thank the Corn­wall Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal for the care he re­ceived dur­ing his stay. We would like to thank the Emer­gency Room, ICU, the Pav­il­lion and all doc­tors, nurses and other health­care staff in­volved with his care. We greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­cep­tional care, com­pas­sion, and dig­nity that he was shown dur­ing his stay.

Pro-wrestler Rick St. Jean shouldn’t be sur­prised if people get his name wrong when he gives less than 100 per­cent in a press con­fer­ence.

Do you have a com­ment you would like to share with the com­mu­nity? Send it in to Scut­tle­butt by email­ing our Ed­i­tor at ni­cholas.

The Glen­garry Soc­cer League has wrapped up. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Ni­co­las Vail­lan­court and Do­minick Myre who were named play­off MVPS.

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