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WDM Yorkton
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Regular Hours:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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12:00 - 5:00 pm
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Phone:
1-306-783-8361

Location:
Highway 16A West
Yorkton, SK

Yorkton WDM - Clay Oven - man mixing clay and staw with bare feet standing in front of almost complete ovenClay Oven

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Threshermen's Show and Seniors' Festival
Threshermen's Show & Senior' Festival

 

"A New Home for An Old Home"


Is it a real home? How did it get into the WDM? Who lived in it? What did the Museum find in the attic? Find out the answers to these questions, and more, below.

Log home in Winning the Prairie Gamble exhibit

A New Home for an Old Home

One hundred years ago, trees were felled and this home was built. In the RM of Insinger #275, on a homestead SE of section 18, township 29, range 7, West of the 2nd meridian, the house was built by homesteaders from Ukraine. One hundred years later, a wall was felled to create an opening through which the shack could enter the Museum gallery, taking a place of prominence in the Winning the Prairie Gamble: The Saskatchewan Story exhibit.

It was thanks to Louis and Elaine Lahosky of Theodore that the home was preserved and available. The land on which the shack was built eventually became Lahosky property and as the brush grew up around it, the Lahoskys, with a keen sense of history, watched the bluff camouflage and protect it. When the WDM put out a call to the Yorkton community for an original homestead shack, these faithful WDM volunteers answered the call.

There was much work to be done to clear artifacts and dismantle walls to make gallery space to accommodate the shack inside the Museum.

“What was really amazing about the move,” commented Susan Mandziuk, Yorkton WDM Manager, “was how smoothly and quickly it went. One minute the shack was outside; the next moment it was inside.”

Check out photos from the move -->

Who Once Lived Here?

In 1899 Dymetri (Metro) and Elena Penteluk and their three children left their homeland in the province of Bukovina, Austria for the prairies of Canada’s North West Territories. This was their first home, built on the southeast quarter of section18, township 29, range 7, west of the 2nd meridian, in the Rural Municipality of Insinger #275. Two more children were born in Canada.

A Fresh Face

Once inside, the home was restored by WDM staff and volunteers. Shingles were used instead of thatch which probably covered the original roof. Walls were replastered and whitewashed. The look of the original dirt floor was replicated, including the hatch to the cellar where vegetables, meat, eggs, milk and butter would have been stored.

 

A piche (pronounced peach) oven was replicated, as it might have been in 1899 when the Penteluk family first lived here. An oven for baking bread, a heater in the long winter months, a warm bed for someone ... the small clay oven was old country know-how brought to the new land.

Originally, the oven would have been made with a base platform of poplar logs, over which coarse gravel or small stones were laid, and then covered with a several coats of clay. Supple green willow stalks were bent to form the frame. Clay mixed with straw or grass was plastered over the willow frame, followed by several more layers of clay. A side platform made a warm and cozy bed.

Now many people cross the threshold to experience a sense of the challenges faced by people living in Saskatchewan one hundred years ago. The WDM made its own history with the decision to relocate and preserve an original homestead shack in tribute to the settlement period of Saskatchewan.

Inside the Home

With every nook and cranny needed, the small home contains kitchen tools like lopati, a bread paddle, used to put loaves of bread into the oven, and to remove the golden loaves when they had baked. A dough trough was needed to mix bread dough. Flour was bought in 98 pound (45 kilogram) bags. Yeast was bought in small round blocks. A kneading board came out at least once a week on bread day. A butter-working bowl was used for many things in the kitchen, including mixing dough for noodles and bread.

The first piece of furniture was often a cupboard called a sháfa. Cobbled together from crates, floor boards and milled lumber, the cupboard was made to hold crocks and cups, bowls and plates.

No home was without a cabbage shredder. Shredded cabbage was packed into a 45 gallon wooden barrel (170 litres) with water, salt, sugar and dry red pepper mixed together for the brine. Packed in late September after the garden was harvested, the last warm September days helped to sour the cabbage for sauerkraut. No home would be without a winters' supply of sauerkraut. Another 45 gallon barrel was used for whole heads of cabbage. The cabbage leaves were used to make holopchi or cabbage rolls. When the days cooled, the cabbage heads were removed so that each head froze and could be stored separately in crocks or smaller barrels.

Every kitchen held a poppy seed masher. Poppy seed had a special place in Ukrainian baking, so newcomers packed seeds and planted them in their new gardens. Ground poppy seeds, mixed with water and sugar or honey made the delectable filling for poppy seed rolls.

All sorts of dried berries, roots, herbs and leaves were ground and powdered in a mortar, using a pestle. Hung to dry from the rafters, native plants were gathered by Ukrainian cooks from the parkland and prairie, along with herbs and flowers from their own gardens.

Blankets and Coverings

Inside the log home, plankets and wall coverings kept families warm

Wall coverings called kylyms added extra insulation in early homes. The traditional geometric design was a favourite of Ukrainian weavers simply because the design was the easiest and quickest to do on the loom. A hand-woven bed covering, called a kot, kept newcomers warm through long winter nights. Handmade of wool, linen and cotton, dyed with vegetable dyes, woven coverings like called nalawnyks were both functional and festive, covering rough wooden furniture while adding a splash of colour to a home.

Faith

A house was not a home without icons. They adorned every Ukrainian home, a reminder of praise, prayer and faith. Icons were an integral part of home life and were often given at milestones such as birth and marriage. People prayed to icons during difficult times. Sometimes, icons were buried with the dead.. A small chapel was included as part of an icon corner. Ornaments, cards, statues, pictures, flowers or grain were displayed in it. A decorative cloth called a rushnik was used to adorn holy icons and in ceremonies surrounding birth, marriage and death.

Newcomers changed Saskatchewan

Drawn to the new land, newcomers brought with them old country know-how. They built churches, homes and schools, unlike any seen prior to the settlement years. Construction methods, pottery styles and weaving patterns, ways to prepare and serve foods, faith and prayer - old country know-how came to the new land. Immigrant women met with First Nations and Métis kookums to share their own know-how and knowledge.

The settlement of the west was at the core of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s National Policy. The lure of free land attracted hundreds of thousands of people. In 1905 there were 90,669 homesteads registered in Saskatchewan.