Wozniak family fonds. — 1890-2015. — 16 cm of textual records. — 135 photographs. — 27 video recordings.
Antoni Wozniak and Maria Parachin were both born in Poland in 1903. They were married in 1922 and by 1930 had four children: Boleslaw (Bill), born July 23, 1923; Mathew, born January 19, 1926; and twins, Merlin and Cecilia, born April 26, 1928. With poor opportunities for the family in Poland and rumors of hostilities amongst nations, the family immigrated to Canada. They had hoped to be able to go to Toronto, where Antoni had two brothers living near Niagara Falls, but ended up on a farm in the Wanham area, arriving June 24, 1930. A cousin’s daughter also came with them.
The first few years were very difficult as they were trying to clear the trees on poor land with little money and very little outside work for cash. The children had to work alongside the parents in taking care of livestock, bringing in wood and water, gardening, picking berries and mushrooms, hunting chickens and ducks so the family had enough to eat. They attended South Slope School in Wanham, about four miles away. In 1935 the family moved to the Tansem farm, where Edward was born on December 4, 1936. Here they cleared land enough for a garden and small fields of wheat and oats. The children now went to Fox Creek School, still four miles away. Maria melted snow to feed cattle and to wash clothes for an English family for $2.00 a month. In 1936 on to their own place at Codesa, and the children could now go to Codesa School. Roman was born in 1938, the same year a forest fire destroyed their barn and the logs for their new home. A new house was finally built in 1940, and in 1942 another forest fire destroyed crops and granary.
By 1939, Antoni and Maria finally felt they could afford to bring Antoni’s mother over from Poland, but while she was getting her papers in order, war broke out. Russia occupied their part of Poland, and many of their family members perished in either the war or later exile in Siberia. Antoni’s mother and his sister, along with her husband and three children, were exiled to Siberia. Only one of the children, a girl named Christine, survived and later immigrated to London, England.
The oldest children stayed in farming. Bill joined the Canadian Army in 1942 and was sent overseas. He served in the Italian war campaign, and also in north-west Europe. After the war he returned to farm in the Belloy. Mathew worked on the family farm after he finished school until 1945, when he filed on his own homestead.
After the war, the Wozniak farm prospered and they were able to send the younger children to university. In 1964 Antoni and Maria sold the farm to Mathew and Barbara, and retired to Grande Prairie where they were involved in many aspects of the community. Antoni was president of the Peace River Polish Society for many years. In 1986 they made a trip back to Poland. Maria passed away in 1988 and Antoni in 2002.
Bill married Stephanie Mycek in 1951. They raised two children, Gerald and Deanna. In 1969 they sold the farm and went into the hotel business in High Prairie. Mathew married Barbara Klukas in 1949. They raised two children on the farm: Patrick, born in 1951, and Elizabeth Jean, born in 1953. Cecilia finished high school in Spirit River and Grande Prairie. She married Wyatt Bailey ca. 1950 and moved to Texas where they raised four children. Merlin finished his education at the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto. Edward attended Spirit River High School before he went on to the University of Edmonton and became a geologist in Vancouver. Roman went to Spirit River High School and then on to the University of Alberta and did his final studies in Oklahoma.
The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives in several donations from 2007-2015 by Mathew Wozniak. The family film collection was donated in 2011, also by Mathew Wozniak.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of a few personal papers belonging to Antoni and Maria Wozniak; the memoirs of Maria (Parachin) Wozniak written in Polish in 1958 and translated by her son, Matthew; Maria’s diary of a trip back to Poland in 1986; letters written home by the six Wozniak children; photographs of the family, the farm, and the community; stories written by Mathew about his life and memories; and a collection of 8 mm film taken by Mathew Wozniak during the 1960s and 70s.
Title based on the contents of the fonds.
Language note: Material is for the most part written in English, but a fair amount is in Polish and some in Ukrainian.
Related records: Klukas-Norris Family fonds 635
Polonia in Alberta 1895-1995, 2013.001 SPRA Library
Accession Numbers: 2007.011; 2007.34; 2008.03; 2008.48; 2009.59; 2010.06; 2011.01; 2013.001; 2013.044; 2015.065
Table of Contents
|Series 279.01||Personal Papers|
|Series 279.02||Family and Community Photographs|
|Series 279.03||Wozniak Family Farms|
|Series 279.04||Mathew Wozniak Family Film|
|Series 279.01||Personal Papers. — 1930 -2015. — 16 photographs.|
The series consists of a published account of the family’s history from 1922 to 2014; the memoirs of Maria, written in Polish and translated into English by her son Mathew; letters written to Maria and Antoni by their children Bill, Mathew, Merlin, Cecile, Edward and Roman; and correspondence from friends and extended family in Poland, the United States, and Canada.
|SubSeries 279.01.01||Family History. — 2015. — 1 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of a book titled “From Poland to Canada: the Journey of Antoni and Maria Wozniak 1922 to 2014”. It was written by Roman Wozniak and printed in 2015. The book includes photographs of the family and community and the following chapters: Family Background and Border Conflict; the Diary of Maria Wozniak; School and Relocating; Relocation to Rahab; Wanham School—High School; 1942 Fire and Recovery; Harvest; Codesa in the 1950s; Baseball; Miscellaneous Stories; and Miscellaneous Family Photos.
|SubSeries 279.01.02||Antoni Wozniak. — 1983-2015. — 4 pp of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of a copy of Antoni’s Last Will and Testament and a list of the awards he received during his lifetime for his work with the Polish community, including the Silver Star from the Polish Prime Minister in 1969, an award from the Prime Minister of Canada in 1968, a certificate from Peace Area Settlement in 1991, a Diploma from Polonia in 1995, and the Gold Star from the Polish Embassy in 2003. There are also two copies of articles about the Polish community in the south Peace and plans for a memorial to the Polish community which was eventually erected in the Grande Prairie Museum Heritage Village.
|SubSeries 279.01.03||Maria Wozniak. — 1930 -. — 2 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of a typed transcript of the memoirs of Maria (Parachin) Wozniak, written in Polish in 1958; an English transcript of the memoirs translated by her son, Mathew; a postcard addressed to family back in Poland in June, 1930, showing the Red Star Line ship that carried the family to Canada; her original diary of their trip back to Poland in 1986 and a typed transcript of that diary; her letters to Roman, also written in Polish, when he was away from home in the late 1950s; and a story about Maria written by Mathew ca. 2010.
|SubSeries 279.01.04||Boleslaw (Bill) Wozniak. — 1942-1943. — 5 pp of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of four letters written to Maria and Antoni Wozniak by Bill Wozniak from December 1942 to July 1943 while he was in the Army during World War II.
|SubSeries 279.01.05||Mathew Wozniak. — 1942-. — 6 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of Mathew’s separation paper, filed with the National Selective Service, showing that he worked for Law Construction Ltd. in Toronto in 1942; three letters written to his parents in 1964-1965; and a collection of stories written by Mathew Wozniak about family and friends, memories of living on the farm, and people and places in the Eaglesham area. They include histories of many of the public buildings in Rahab/Codesa and Fox Creek as well as Wanham School.
|279.01.05.01||Ancient History |
Describes the conditions in the Ukraine and why the family immigrated to Canada.
|279.01.05.02||Memories of Grandma |
Story of the two grandmothers left behind when the family immigrated.
|279.01.05.03||Short Period of Polish History |
What happened to Poland during and after World War I.
|279.01.05.04||Katrina Wozniak (nee Wrobel) |
What happened to Mathew’s paternal grandmother and her children during World War II.
Story of Mathew’s maternal grandfather, taken mainly from Maria Wozniak’s diary.
|279.01.05.06||Janek Parachin |
Story of Maria Wozniak’s brother, Janek Parachin, who died in an internment camp in Canada.
|279.01.05.07||Barbara Wozniak (nee Klukas) |
Story of Barbara Wozniak’s creative genius.
|279.01.05.08||Dad’s Estate, 1958 |
Story of the transferring of the farm from the elder Wozniak’s to Mathew and Barbara.
|279.01.05.09||Trip to Poland, 1986 |
Transcript of Maria Wozniak’s diary of their trip to Poland.
|279.01.05.10||The Story of Herman Klukas |
Biographical account of the life of Barbara Wozniak’s father.
|279.01.05.11||Polish Monument at the Grande Prairie Museum |
Explanation why the museum is at the museum. Text is visible in the photograph. (related to photograph 0279.02.021)
|279.01.05.12||The Majewski Brothers |
Story of Frank and Stanley Majewski, Polish immigrants at Codesa.
|279.01.05.13||The Tragedy of the Hrishuk Family |
Story of the Hrishuk family, Polish immigrants at Fox Creek.
|279.01.05.14||Ted McDaid and the Candy Factory |
Stories about Ted McDaid, who homesteaded at Eaglesham.
|279.01.05.15||Charlie Brochu |
Story about the Rahab (later Codesa) Post Office.
|279.01.05.16||Noga Brothers |
Story about John and Peter Noga, who had a trucking company at Codesa and sponsored the Codesa Baseball Team in the 1950s.
|279.01.05.17||The Story of Elko (Alex) Sanocki and Family |
Story about the Sanocki family, Polish immigrants who settled near Eaglesham.
|279.01.05.18||Benny Houser’s Sawmill |
Story of a home-made sawmill manufactured by Benny Houser.
Story of Mazurkewich, a Polish settler at Codesa.
|279.01.05.20||Burial at Bezanson |
Hand-written story repeated from Herman Klukas about the burial at Bezanson of a woman who had died in childbirth.
|279.01.05.21||Theophile Legault |
Story of Theophile Legault, from Tangent, who married Agnes Laurin, a widow with 8 children. They had seven more children at Tangent. Included is a 50 page genealogy of the Shank family from whom Agnes Laurin descended.
|279.01.05.22||Water and Waterwells |
Two stories about the difficulty of finding good water and digging wells in the Eaglesham area.
|279.01.05.23||Spinning Yarn Out of Wool |
Wozniak family experience of making socks from raw wool.
|279.01.05.24||Wood Piles |
Article about the wide use of wood as a fuel before natural gas was harnessed.
|279.01.05.25||Shipping Cream |
About the common practice of supplementing farm income by shipping cream.
Changes in doing laundry since the 1930s.
|279.01.05.27||Country Ice Houses |
Preserving ice in the winter for summer use.
|279.01.05.28||Ancient Radio |
Early radios and radio stations in the Peace.
Making moonshine liquor during the Great Depression.
|279.01.05.30||Logging in the 30s and 40s |
Logging with horses.
|279.01.05.31||Raising Sheep |
Story about Barbara raising sheep and using wool.
|279.01.05.32||Paving the Grande Prairie Airport |
Mathew’s experience working on the airport runways when they were expanding during World War II.
|279.01.05.33||Artificially Inseminating #32 |
Mathew’s experience with a reluctant cow.
|279.01.05.34||Before Matches Were Available |
How you lit your cigarette before matches were common.
|279.01.05.35||Fox Creek Polish-Ukranian Hall |
History of the Fox Creek Hall near Eaglesham, built ca. 1942.
|279.01.05.36||Our Lady of Czestochowa Church (Fox Creek) |
History of the Fox Creek Catholic Church, known as “the Little Red Church”.
|279.01.05.37||Fox Creek School |
History of Fox Creek School near Eaglesham, which was established in 1919, and information on “The Joe Bilinski School Van”, a horse-drawn van which took the students to school from 1947 to 1950.
|279.01.05.38||South Eaglesham Mutual Telephone Co. Ltd. |
The organization and development of the local co-operative which ran the phone lines from 1958-1965.
|279.01.05.39||South Slope School |
Experiences of the Wozniak children at South Slope School, Wanham.
|279.01.05.40||History of the Lakeside Golf and Country Club |
Story of as “How Eaglesham Got Its Golf Course” in 1969. Shorter version published in “Telling Our Stories” Volume 1 Issue 1. This version includes a list of the volunteers involved in building it, and a financial statement of the costs of operating the course in 1991.
|279.01.05.41||Wanham Codesa Fire, 1942 |
The experience of the Wozniak family during the Wanham-Codesa Forest Fire on October 22, 1942, taken from Maria Wozniak’s diary.
|279.01.05.42||Hamlet of Rahab, later Codesa |
History of Rahab, established as a siding on the ED & BC Railway in 1916 and re-named Codesa in 1938.
|279.01.05.43||Rahab Church |
Building the Rahab Catholic Church in the early 1930s.
|279.01.05.44||Midland and Pacific Grain Company Ltd. |
Building of the Midland and Pacific Grain elevator at Rahab in 1938.
|279.01.05.45||Watino, Smoky River Crossing |
Opening of the Watino Bridge at Smoky River Crossing in 1941.
|279.01.05.46||22 Corners to Rahab |
Map and survey plans showing the road from the SE of Section 11, Township 78, Range 1, West of the 6th Meridian to the Hamlet of Codesa (Rahab) on the E.D. & B.C. Railway. There are 22 turns in the road, which is approximately 2.5 miles long. Story is included in the story, “Hamlet of Rahab, later Codesa.”
|SubSeries 279.01.06||Merlin Wozniak. — 1948-1958. — 1 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of letters written by Merlin Wozniak back to his parents in Codesa after he had left home for University and work. Letters are written in Polish and signed “Marian”, which was Merlin’s Polish name.
|SubSeries 279.01.07||Cecile (Wozniak) Bailey. — [1953-1971]. — 3 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of letters written by Cecile Bailey to her parents, Antoni and Maria Wozniak from from 1953 to about 1971. There is also a 1969 news clipping with a photo of her four children—Patricia (7), David (9), Stephen (11), and Richard (13) Bailey playing for a Piano Seminar at St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas.
|SubSeries 279.01.08||Edward Wozniak. — 1955-. — 1 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of an application for Edward Wozniak to attend St. Joseph’s High School in Edmonton in 1955, and letters written by Edward and his wife Sharon to his parents, Antoni and Maria Wozniak, from 1957 to about 1970.
|SubSeries 279.01.09||Roman Wozniak. — 1958-1970. — 1 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of letters written by Roman to his parents, Antoni and Maria Wozniak from 1958-1970.
|SubSeries 279.01.10||Miscellaneous. — [1955-1970]. — 1 cm of textual records.|
The sub-series consists of letters from extended family or friends, mostly written in Polish. They include two letters from Father Michelowski, the Catholic priest stationed at Webster and serving the Fox Creek church, after he had moved to Vancouver; Nellie, a niece of Maria’s who lived in New York and later Connecticut; and a neighbour from Codesa, Mike Gruner.
|Series 279.02||Family and Community Photographs. — 1930-. — 133 photographs.|
The series consists of family photographs of the Wozniak family, from the time of their immigration from Poland and continuing through their years on the farm near Eaglesham and their retirement to Grande Prairie. Also included are a collection of photographs showing the crafting skills of Barbara Wozniak, Mathew Wozniak’s wife.
|Series 279.03||Wozniak Family Farms. — 1939-1999. — 6 cm of textual records. — 36 photographs.|
The series consists of land records, income records (cattle and grain), and expense records for the Wozniak farm when it was under the care of Antoni and Maria Wozniak; a 1981 appraisal report for the Wozniak farm, then called Barnaby Farms, when it was under the care of Mathew and Barbara Wozniak; a map showing the extent of Barnaby Farm when it was sold in 1999; and a story written by Mathew Wozniak about farming from the time he filed on his homestead in 1945, until 1998 when they decided to sell the farm. There are also 16 photographs of Barnaby Farm ca. 1990, and 20 photographs of the farm machinery being cleared out for auction after the farm was sold in 1999.
|Series 279.04||Mathew Wozniak Family Film. — [1960-1980]. — 27 video recordings.|
The series consists of 26 reels of 8 mm film and digital copies of the film, originally on 3 DVD discs, taken by Mathew Wozniak to document family activities and trips. The films show Eaglesham and Wozniak family events, and includes travel footage on the digital copies. The digital copies also include transfers of films (particularly vacation films) not accessioned by the Archives.