Canada is home to the third largest Ukrainian population in the world, behind the Ukraine itself and Russia, making their immigration into Canada a very important part of our country’s history. So, on a recent road trip to Edmonton, Alberta, we decided to make a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Arriving at the park, we headed off to Kalyna’s Kitchen. A delicious lunch of authentic Ukrainian food helped get us in the proper mood for our visit.
Our first stop after lunch was the park’s latest addition—The Stelmach House. It came from the family of Alberta’s first premier of Ukrainian descent (someone I was fortunate to work with in the Alberta Legislature). This home was built in 1918 by Premier Stelmach’s grandparents and, when complete, will become the learning center—a wonderful tribute to the hard work and determination of Alberta’s early pioneers.
In this same area, outside of the main village, we visited homes with gardens and chicken houses, set up as they would have been in the early days of Alberta. EJ was fascinated with the willow branch garden fences and would like to try building some himself at the farm. I love how kids will pick up on ideas during a visit—not something in the guidebook but, as in this instance, a way that our ancestors made use of the materials available to us.
Moving across the bridge over Goose Lake, we arrived at the train station. EJ is always interested in train stations and equipment and pointed out that this station was from Canadian National, not Canadian Pacific, where his papa works. Continuing along the rail line, we made a visit to the wooden grain elevator, where one of the costumed interpreters took EJ through the steps of loading and unloading grain wagons and how the elevator workers had to block up the doors of box cars to keep the wheat and barley in as they loaded them. It was quite a feat for them to crawl back out of the car once they had it almost full!
EJ was full of questions, comparing the village churches to his own. Our interpreter was terrific and carefully responded to all of them, even explaining the differences between churches, because of their religious affiliation.
We ended our day with a visit to the farm area, where we saw pigs and chickens, as well as the farmer, working in the field, with a horse drawn hay rake. Although we have a home in a rural area, I think it’s good for kids to see how things were done “back in the day” (as EJ says it). He was also interested to see the house with only one bed, where the family slept together to help keep everyone warm over the winter.
We learned a lot about why people risked everything to come to Canada and what they went through to help build our province and our country. Social studies and history, at their finest, almost firsthand.
Kimberly Linkletter– After a 20-plus year career in politics and government, my life took a turn and I became a homeschooling gramma to our energetic and adventurous grandson EJ. There is nothing we like better than loading up our car and hitting the road to see what we can see. As my girls have always said, “Mom says everywhere is on the way to somewhere,” so we love to take detours along our route. You find some of the best places that way!
We keep busy reviewing homeschool products, visiting small town (and not so small town) diners and cafes, museums, National Parks, hotels, and campgrounds. EJ and I (Miss Kimmy to my friends) love to share our adventures with you here on Vintage Blue Suitcase.