Fonds 329 Nick Poohkay

Nick & Mary Poohkay. — 1938-2007. — 60 cm of textual records. — 59 photographs. — 22 negatives. — 1 sound recordings.


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Biographical Sketch

Nicholas Charles Poohkay was born at Slava, Alberta (east of Vegreville) in 1926 to Mike and Mary Poohkay. He attended Brierfield School, then high school in Edmonton, and after graduation worked as a school supervisor at Stanley School. In 1947 he acquired land in the Eaglesham area where his brother Peter, an army veteran, had taken a Veteran’s land grant. He then went on to Yellowknife and worked as a miner for Consolidated Mining and Smelting for two years. In 1950 he finally settled on his land in Eaglesham, adding to it by filing on a homestead in the Lassiter Project in 1952. While he was breaking land in 1957 he plowed up an Indian artifact, a scraper. This led to a great interest in archaeology, and over his lifetime he located hundreds of pieces. He was also involved in many community organizations including co-operatives, the Farmers’ Union, and the Advisory Committee for Improvement District #19. He married Mary Dworakowski in 1968.

Mary Margaret Zahara was born in Oravka, Poland, in 1923, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1939, just before World War II began. Before she left Poland, she was engaged to Jan Dmuchacz. The Zahara family settled near Sexsmith where, as a teenager, Mary worked as a mother’s helper for the Hriskow family. When she realized that her fiancé would not be allowed to immigrate to Canada, around 1940 she married Charles Dworakowski, also from Poland, who farmed south of Sexsmith. Their daughter Irene was born in 1942, and they settled in a large home on the south-west corner of the intersection between Highway 2 and Emerson Trail. Mary was an avid gardener, and this house was soon surrounded by flower beds, ornamental shrubs, and a shelterbelt. In 1964, they could finally afford to travel back to Poland. After Charles died in 1966, Mary married Nick Poohkay in 1968 and moved to Eaglesham.

After their marriage, Nick and Mary continued to farm, eventually owning five quarters of land. Once again Mary established vegetable gardens, flower beds and a shelterbelt around their farm. In 1989, they received the Northlands Farm Family Award for the Birch Hills Improvement District No. 19. Mary’s daughter Irene passed away in 1987, and in 1989 Nick and Mary retired to Grande Prairie, where once again she planted a vegetable garden and flower beds. In later years, Mary was afflicted with Alzheimer disease and for the final years lived at Mackenzie Place. She passed away in 2006.

Custodial History

The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Nick Poohkay over several years from 2007 to 2015.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of the personal papers and photographs of Nick Poohkay and his wife Mary (Dworakowski) Poohkay, an interview of Nick Poohkay regarding the development of the Eaglesham area, records for their farm near Eaglesham from the first crop in 1950, records of organizations which Nick was involved in, and financial records for the couple.

Notes

Accession numbers: 2008.042; 2012.055; 2013.032; 2014.069; 2015.038
Related records: Nick and Mary (Dworakowski) Poohkay photo in Panda Camera collection (Item 0190.00140-P30).
Related records: Smoky West Rural Electrification Association Ltd fonds 130
Tangent Municipal Nursing Society fonds 321
Eaglesham Consumers’ Cooperative Association Ltd. fonds 322
Eaglesham Savings & Credit Union fonds 323
Eaglesham Senior Social Centre Club fonds 324
Village of Eaglesham fonds 325
Tom Lessard fonds 326
Smoky West Rural Electrification Association fonds

Table of Contents

Series 329.01Personal Papers and Photographs
Series 329.02Farm Records
Series 329.03Activity Records
Series 329.04Financial Records
Series 329.01Personal Papers and Photographs. — 1938-2007. — 6 cm of textual records. — 59 photographs. — 22 negatives. — 1 sound recordings.

The series consists of personal papers and photographs relating to Nick Poohkay, his wife Mary Poohkay, and her daughter, Irene Dworakowski.

SubSeries 329.01.01Personal Papers of Nick Poohkay. — 1966-2007. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 16 negatives. — 1 sound recordings.

The sub-series consists of stories, certificates and news clippings giving Nick’s history and community involvement; some slides of brother Peter Poohkay’s funeral; and an oral history detailing Nick’s life in the Lassiter area north of Eaglesham. The stories include an article on the various spellings of the Poohkay name, the story of his parents’ (Mike and Mary Poohkay) immigration to Canada, and “The Story of the Blue Vase”, an article donated to the Grande Prairie Museum. There is some documentation regarding Fredrick Koch, the son of Helena (Ellis) Koch, a nurse who had homesteaded in the Eaglesham district with five other nurses after World War I.

Peter Poohkay Funeral, 1966
16 slides; colour; 35 mm
Sixteen slides documenting the funeral of Peter Poohkay.
Location: 0329.01.01.01-16
Interview with Nick Poohkay, 2007
Audio Cassette
(see audio tape for complete details) Nicholas Charles Poohkay was born in a his father’s homestead home May 16, 1926 in Slawa, AB, (north of Vermilion and east of Vegreville). “Slawa” meant “renowned” in Ukrainian. The immigrants thought this would be their salvation but the land around it was very poor. After Nick finished his grade twelve, he worked as a school supervisor. Then he went to Yellowknife in 1948 to become a miner for Consolidated Mining and Smelting (Con) and after he found he didn’t like underground work he went into mill work. He lived in camp and he got good wages, $1.20 an hour. By this time he had bought up some tax recovery land near Eaglesham and in 1950 he returned to Eaglesham where his brother, Peter, who had been discharged from the army in 1945 and had homesteaded in the area, had cleared some of his quarter so he was ready to break the land. One difficulty was that there were no roads, only trails. (Story of 7 nurses from Nova Scotia who had served in WWl who came in the 1920s to settle.) In 1951 his first crop was harvested but there was no money from it until 1952. The Lassiter Project had cleared land in the area north of Eaglesham, half a mile from Nick’s place. In order to homestead that land you were not allowed to have any other land in your name so Nick sold his land to his brother, a pharmacist, in order to file on a homestead. The Lassiter land was meant for veteran’s but after ninety days, the land not taken was made available to others, and Nick got 320 acres of roots and logs. Lassiter workers had worked with disc ploughs so it was very rough and then they made floats out of a cat tracks with logs in between but there was a lot of debris left to remove before it could be cropped and they expected to see crops right away. Lassiter had 13 caterpillar tractors (D8 tractors which were U.S. World War II surplus from the Aleutian Islands) and about twenty men, most from the farming community around, a mechanic and a welder. The Lassiter camp was located near Nick’s farm on NE13-79-26-W5. Nick finally owned five quarters of land. When he was breaking land in 1957 he ploughed up an nephrite (Jade) adze, an Indian artifact, and from then on started looking for more and collected hundreds of pieces. This seems to prove that first nations peoples lived in the area for thousands of years. Nick stayed a grain farmer and gradually farming improved as he learned how to preserve the moisture and grow better crops. Eaglesham and Belloy were both small hamlets at the time. Eaglesham and Belloy both had elevators and Belloy had a water tower for the train which was run by steam. The main railway stations were Rycroft and Watino and smaller ones at Belloy and Eaglesham which meant there were railway workers stationed in those hamlets. Post offices, stores and churches were common to these communities. In 1955, the original post office in Eaglesham (which had been replaced by a new post office) was set alight as part of Alberta’s anniversary celebrations. Codesa was seven miles west of Eaglesham and was originally called Rahab (from the bible – a lady of ill repute) which had a camp for building the road and for making railway ties and services for these men – like a pool room. When the Catholic Church decided to build, they did not like the name of the hamlet so they applied to the railway company in 1938 and the name became Codesa, using 2 initials for each of three men, Collins, Deacon, and Saunders. (Memories of Watino and Pruden’s Crossing) When Nick was still in Edmonton he went to umpire school and when he came north to farm hw was usually drafter to umpire ball games. Baseball games were Sunday events and competitions between communities were strong. There were teams in Eaglesham, Belloy, Falher, Donnelly, Wanham, Tangent, McLennan, even Watino in the early days. After the war, there were better roads built, some prompted by the Alaska Highway through Slave Lake and Watino and up to Spirit River and Dawson Creek.
Location: 0329.01.01.01
SubSeries 329.01.02Personal Papers of Mary (Zahara) (Dworakowski) Poohkay. — 1938-1968. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 5 photographs. — 6 negatives.

Mary Margaret Zahara was born in Oravka, Poland, in 1923, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1939. They settled near Sexsmith, where, as a teenager Mary worked as a mother’s helper for the Hriskow family. Around 1940 she married Charles Dworakowski, also from Poland, who farmed south of Sexsmith. Their daughter Irene was born in 1942, and they settled in a large home on the south-west corner of the intersection between Highway 2 and Emerson Trail. Mary was an avid gardener, and this house was surrounded by flowers, ornamental shrubs, and a shelterbelt. In 1964, they could finally afford to travel back to Poland. After Charles died in 1966, Mary married Nick Poohkay in 1968 and moved to Eaglesham. There she farmed with Nick, once again building flower beds and a shelterbelt around their farm. Her daughter Irene passed away in 1987, and in 1989 Nick and Mary retired to Grande Prairie, where once again she planted vegetables and flowers. In later years, Mary was afflicted with Alzheimer disease and for the final years lived at Mackenzie Place. She passed away in 2006.

The sub-series consists of documentation regarding the sale of Mary Poohkay’s land in 1968, and 25 photographic images of Mary as a teenager, the Dworakowski home and gardens on Emerson Trail, the Dworakowski family, and two photographs from the trip back to Poland in 1964.

Mary Zahara and Jan Dmuchacz, 1938-1939
2 photographs; b & w; 4 x 6 in.
Copies of two photographs of Mary Zahara and her fiance Jan Dmuchacz in Poland before Mary immigrated to Canada. The first photograph shows Mary in a white dress with a decorative slip showing beneath the hem. This hem is in the Grande Prairie Museum.
Location: 0329.01.02.01a-b
Mary (Zahara) Dworakowski, [1940]
1 photograph; colour; 6 x 8 in.
Tinted photograph of Mary Zahara about the time she married Charles Dworakowski.
Location: 0329.01.02.02
Dworakowski Home & Gardens, [1960]
6 slides; colour; 35 mm
The Dworakowski farm home and gardens on the NE 11-73-6-6, at the intersection of Highway 2 and Emerson Trail.
Location: 0329.01.02.03-09
Dworakowski Family, [1960]
5 negatives; b & w; 2 x 4 in.
Dworakowski family in the garden at their farm home about the time daughter Irene left for training in Edmonton.
Location: 0329.01.02.10-14
Dworakowski Family and Friends, [1965]
9 negatives; colour; 2 x 4 in.
Dworakowski family and friends in the garden at the farm home of Charles and Mary Dworakowski.
Location: 0329.01.02.15-23
Trip to Poland, 1964
2 photographs; b & w; various sizes
Mary and Charles Dworakowski with relatives on a trip back to Poland in 1964.
Location: 0329.01.02.24-25
SubSeries 329.01.03Personal Papers of Irene Dworakowski. — 1938-2007. — 5 cm of textual records. — 54 photographs.

Irene Margaret Dworakowski was born September 20, 1942 at Sexsmith, Alberta. She grew up on a farm on the intersection of Highway 2 and Emerson Trail, and spent her school years in Sexsmith and Grande Prairie. After graduating from St. Joesph’s High School in 1959, she trained as a laboratory technician in Edmonton in 1961, and remained there to work. She died in Edmonton on December 30, 1987, and is buried in the Emerson Trail Cemetery.

The sub-series consists of a few cards, including a postcard from Sister St. Glorian; 54 photographs of school, family and home from ca. 1943 to 1962, two yearbooks from St. Joseph’s High School in 1960 and 1961, and some papers regarding her death in 1987. There are also two news articles, one about her accomplishments in piano, and the other a photo of her grad class in 1961.

Mary & Irene Dworakowski, [1945]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in.
Mary Dworakowski with her daughter Irene, presumably outside of their first home.
Location: 0329.01.03.01
Dworakowski Farm Home, [1950]
1 photograph; b & w; 2 x 3 in.
The farm home of Charles and Mary Dworakowski on the NE 11-73-6-6, adjacent to Highway 2 and the Emerson Trail.
Location: 0329.01.03.02
Dworakowski Gardens, [1955]
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5 in.
Irene Dworakowski in the garden of her farm home on the NE 11-73-6-6, adjacent to Highway 2 and the Emerson Trail.
Location: 0329.01.03.03
Birthday Party, [1955]
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5 in.
Irene Dworakowski with a group of friends and a candle-laden cake.
Location: 0329.01.03.04
Sisters of the Holy Cross, [1955]
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5 in.
Mary and Irene Dworakowski with a group of nuns, possibly the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who taught in St. Mary’s at Sexsmith and at St. Joseph’s in Grande Prairie.
Location: 0329.01.03.05
School Photographs, 1955-1957
2 photographs; b & w; 3 x 5 in.
Two individual school photographs of Irene Dworakowski when she was in grade 8 and grade 9.
Location: 0329.01.03.06-07
Classmates at St. Mary’s, 1957-1958
21 photographs; b & w; 3.5 x 3.5 in.
Photographs of Irene Dworakowski’s classmates at St. Mary’s School in Sexsmith the year she was in grade 10.
Location: 0329.01.03.08-28
St. Mary’s School, Sexsmith, 1957
2 photographs; b & w; 3.5 x 3.5 in.
Exterior photograph of St. Mary’s School in Sexsmith, and of an unidentified teaching sister inside the school.
Location: 0329.01.03.29-30
Dworakowski Family, 1957
1 photograph; colour; 3.5 x 3.5 in.
Family grouping outside of the Dworakowski family home includes Charles Dworakowski, possibly grandmother Zahara, Irene Dworakowski, and a friend.
Location: 0329.01.03.31
Grade Twelve, 1959-1960
7 photographs; b & w; various sizes
Snapshots and school photographs of Irene Dworakowski when she was attending grade 12 at St. Joseph’s High School.
Location: 0329.01.03.32-38
Graduation, 1960
3 photographs; b & w; 3 x 5 in.
Photographs of Irene Dworakowski in her grad gown with her mother Mary, father Charles, and unidentified escourt.
Location: 0329.01.03.39-41
The Folks at Home, 1960-1961
7 photographs; b & w; various sizes
Snapshots of the Dworakowski family at home and on the farm, taken before Irene left home for training in 1960 and home for a visit in 1961.
Location: 0329.01.03.42-48
Away From Home, 1962-1963
5 photographs; b & w; various sizes
Snapshots of Irene Dworakowski in residence and traveling with friends.
Location: 0329.01.03.49-53
Irene Dworakowski, Laboratory Technician, [1963]
1 photograph; colour; 8 x 10 in.
Formal graduation portrait for Irene Dworakowski when she received her qualification for Laboratory Technician.
Location: 0329.01.03.54
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Series 329.02Farm Records. — 1950-1989. — 32 cm of textual records.

The series consists of Canadian Wheat Board Permits and files of Income and Expenses detailing the work involved in the Poohkay farm near Eaglesham.

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Series 329.03Activity Records. — 1938-2007. — 16 cm of textual records.

The series consists of files regarding two organizations with which Nick Poohkay was involved, namely Farmers Union Local 116, and the Advisory Committee for Improvement District #19.

SubSeries 329.03.01Farmers Union of Alberta Local 116. — 1962-1987. — 3 cm of textual records.

The sub-series contains 1962 correspondence generated by Nick Poohkay on behalf of the Farmers Union Local 116 and the Eaglesham Board of Trade regarding grain handling, livestock shipping, post office activity and banking in the community of Eaglesham; a 1963 report on a group fact-finding trip to Ottawa regarding possibilities for western co-operatives; some 1970 studies on Co-operative Marketing; and the papers for the founding convention amalgamating the Farmers’ Union of Alberta and the Alberta Federation of Agriculture in 1970. On the back of the amalgamation diagram is a list of members from Eaglesham, Tangent, and Wanham. The file also contains an agenda and passenger list for a Vancouver Grain Industry Tour sponsored by the Alberta Wheat Pool in 1979, and a programme for the 1987 Regional Meeting of the Association of Alberta Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants.

SubSeries 329.03.02I.D. #19 Land Use Order. — 1981. — 2 cm of textual records.

The Improvement District No. 19 Land Use Order contains general information such as definitions and regulations and information about the agencies (development officers, planning commission, development appeal board); development permits, rules and procedures; appeals; enforcement and administration; and supplementary regulations. Also included in the report are related maps and diagrams.

I.D. #19 Land Use Order, 1981
Booklet
The Improvement District No. 19 Land Use Order contains general information such as definitions and regulations and information about the agencies (development officers, planning commission, development appeal board); development permits, rules and procedures; appeals; enforcement and administration; and supplementary regulations. Also included in the report are related maps and diagrams.
Location: 0329.03.02.01
Village of Wanham Proposed Separation, 1982
Booklet
This “Brief to the Local Authorities Board” concerning the proposed separation of certain lands from the Village of Wanham an introduction to what is proposed, and sections on historical growth, financial study, existing land use patterns, future land requirements, development constraints, and a summary and analysis. The report is illustrated with a number of maps, tables and graphs regarding services, population, costs, and land use.
Location: 0329.03.02.02
Hamlet of Watino Planning Studies, 1982-1983
Booklet
This Hamlet Planning Study for Watino contains an inventory of the site and buildings, the services, analysis of future development, and policy recommendations. It is illustrated by maps of the site. Also in the file is a Hamlet of Watino Water and Sewer Systems Feasibility Study prepared for Alberta Municipal Affairs by Epec Consulting Western Ltd.
Location: 0329.03.02.03
Hamlet of Tangent Area Structure Plan, 1983
Booklet
The Hamlet of Tangent Area Structure Plan contains background information on the area; the goal of the current plan; objectives, residential, commercial, industrial, and community development policies; the hamlet expansion area and future land use; and policies for transportation, services, utilities, and public reserve lands. It is illustrated by maps of the plan area, future servicing, and future land use.
Location: 0329.03.02.04
Eaglesham (South) Flood Control, 1984
Booklet
The Eaglesham (South) Flood Control project was commissioned by Alberta Municipal Affairs, Improvement District No. 19. The purpose of the study was to determine the works required to control flooding in the area and the estimated costs and benefits of the works. The area under study was agricultural land about 2.5 km south of the Village of Eaglesham. The project was part of the Peace River drainage basin as it outlets into Egg Lake and from there the flow continues on to the Peace River via the Coote Lake Drainage project.
Location: 0329.03.02.05
Smoky-Peace Point Resource Plan, 1986
Booklet
The Smoky-Peace Point Local Integrated Resource Plan is a statement of provincial government resource management policy for 820 sq. km. of land immediately south and west of the town of Peace River. The plan provindes for protection and continued use of recreation, tourism, ecological, fish, wildlife, watershed, archaeological, timber, grazing and mineral resources. Also included in the file is an Integrated Resource Inventory which studies the vegetation in the area.
Location: 0329.03.02.06
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Series 329.04Financial Records. — 1950-1989. — 6 cm of textual records.

The series consists of income tax and investment records for Nick & Mary Poohkay which give an overall snapshot of financial records for the Poohkay farm.

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