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Mike Zmurchyk Sr. and
Mary Marusyk Zmurchyk

Our Treasured Heritage
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 609-611
by Peter Zmurchyk

Mike Zmurchyk Sr. was born Nov. 8, 1888, at Belleluja, Sniatyn, Austria, now the Ukraine. He was the eldest of five children, and immigrated to Canada with his brother, Andrew, in 1908. After arriving here he began work with the C.P.R. and worked in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Calgary. In 1911 Dad paid his first property tax here in Lethbridge.

Mrs. Zmurchyk, formerly Mary Marusyk, was born Jan. 7, 1892, at Belieluja, Sniatyn, she was one of seven children, and immigrated to Canada in 1912 to Calgary where she stayed with her brother, Bill, until she married Mike Oct. 2, 1912. After their marriage they resided in Calgary until 1913, when they moved to Lethbridge. Dad then worked as Labourer for the contractors Hotson-Leader and Goode. In early 1914 Dad moved with his family to Coalhurst, where he found a job at the mine as timberman.

The year 1923, Dad's brother, Kyfa, immigrated to Canada, he also worked at the mine in Coalhurst, and was killed in the mine explosion December 9, 1935. In 1927 Dad bought 80 acres of land from Mr. L. Nelson, and moved with his family to the farm. Shortly afterwards, he purchased another 80 acres just south of the homeplace from Mr. Joe Gordon. The farm was just about three miles from the mine at Coalhurst, and from here Dad used to walk to work.

Mother did much of the work in the field with the boys, she always had a beautiful big garden, took care of the cows, the pigs and the chickens. She used to walk to town with the baby buggy for groceries. Feb. 12, 1948, Dad passed away. In 1952 mother moved to town, and lived there till she passed away Sept. 10, 1967.

Mike and Mary had five children, who all had their schooling in West Lethbridge and Coalhurst:

Fred - was born in Coalhurst 1914; after finishing school he worked at the Thom Dairy farm. Fred moved to Femie in 1939 and worked at the mine in Michel until retirement. In 1944 he married Katherine Sangale from Femie, Fred and Katie have six children.

Fred retired from his work at the mine in 1979 after 40 years of service. Katie passed away after a lengthy illness Dec. 21, 1982, and Fred Dec. 11, 1983 after a lengthy illness.

John - was born in Coalhurst 1915, and passed away Jan. 19, 1925 due to a tragic accident when he fell on the ice while skating in Coalhurst.

Pete - was born in Coalhurst. I can't remember much of living in Wigan, but I do remember coming to the farm in 1927, riding in the back of a wagon, just able to look over the edge of the wagon box, and the first few months living in a granary, until the new house was built. One of us kids had to stand outside by the house in the evening to listen for the mine whistle, if it blew it meant Dad would, or would not have to go to work in the morning, this I can't remember.

I remember going to school in Coalhurst on my horse Katie, at times this could be real cold in the wintertime, sometimes, I would stop at the washhouse at the mine to warm up.

One day, when school was finished, I was going for my horse at the horse barn and decided to take a short cut. Instead of going over the stile, I decided to jump over the fence. Mr. Merkley happened to see me and called me back into the school. He gave me a choice, either go over the stile fifty times, or get the strap. I took the strap, but never took a short cut over the fence again.

In the winter we used to get together with friends to play hockey on different farmers' lakes, many times having to clean the snow first before we could skate and have our game.

When I was in the calf club, winning a prize for my calf, and had a trip to Calgary with the other winners.

-Our Model T. car that sometimes refused to go up the hill forward, turning it around and driving it backwards. After the Model T. having a Model A. roadster. When you went to town, sometimes getting caught in a rain or thunderstorm, coming home soaking wet.

-Having to take Dad, who did not drive a car, to John Horchuk or Mike Bohachuk for a card game. At times, when things were getting rough for Bohachuk he would turn his cap around, a bit at a time until it made a complete turn on his head.

-The get togethers with family and friends at Easter, Christmas and other holidays, these were happy times.

-The evenings at Willis's store, by the pot belly stove,

many long stories were told there.

These things are no more, but I can think back on many happy times in Coalhurst, and I'm proud we live here.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup