Land of Hope and Dreams – Frank and Bernice Sklapsky

The following is excerpted, with permission, from the book titled “Land of Hope and Dreams – A History of Grimshaw and District”, published by Grimshaw and District Historical Society, 1980

Frank and Bernice Sklapsky

By Bernice Sklapsky

In the fall of 1928, my husband, Frank, I, and our year-old baby came to Grimshaw from Brock, Saskatchewan. Before marriage I had lived at Neville, Saskatchewan. As there had been much talk of the Peace River country, Frank and brother Virgil decided to find out about it. Frank filed on a homestead seven and a half miles north-east of Grimshaw in the Three Lakes District.

Frank worked in Heffernan’s Garage, Berwyn, did some draying, and other odd jobs. For the first ten years I did not leave the homestead often as Frank was away most of the time, working to support us.

We had seven lovely children. Muriel the eldest, married Howard R. Gale and they reside in Grimshaw. All of their six children are married except Roy, the youngest. George, our eldest boy and second child, married the eldest Aspin girl, Joyce, and lives in the Peace Valley.  They have twin boys and a girl. Dallas, our second boy, married Janna Olson in Prince Rupert and lives in North Surrey, British Columbia. They have a boy and a girl. Louise married Karl Marki, a fisherman who has his own boat. They live on Vancouver Island and have a boy and a girl. Audrey and her husband, David Blackhall, live in Prince Rupert. They have two boys and a girl. Eugene married Judy Woodworth in Prince Rupert, but now they live in Quesnel, British Columbia, with their little boy and girl. Verla married Rolland “Buster” Young of Prince Rupert and they live in Kamloops, British Columbia, with their four boys.

When we first came to the Peace River country we had only a baby and a trunk of odds and ends. We lived with some friends, the Chapelles, east of Grimshaw, until Frank and his brother, Virgil, built our log house. We bought a little cook stove, bed and spring, mattress, chairs, a few pots and pans and dishes to start up housekeeping. The table and children’s bunks were homemade. I was very proud of my first home. Frank worked for neighbours in exchange for some of the things we needed. He worked for Walter Lund for two small pigs, and for Alvin Aebly for a horse or two. A few farm implements and plow were obtained the same way. He cut logs, cord wood, or fence posts, which he traded or sold for most of our needs. We bought our first set of sleighs. We had hard years but were never hungry or cold. Ted Wilson kept us in moose meat the first winter, or so. We were thankful and happy. We had house parties and dances occasionally. Someone always supplied the music. Later, when there was a school in the Gould district, we had good dances there. We traveled by wagon or by sleigh in the winter.

I don’t remember too much about when the Gould school was built. Our children attended Three Lakes School until our last few years there. Miss Sewell taught at Gould, also Lillian Milton and a young man whose name I don’t remember. Miss Milton held church services and Sunday School, as did Miss McLean, and Bessy Snyder, the latter becoming a missionary in Venezuela.

Our doctors were Dr. Sutherland of Peace River, and Doctors Matas and Wynne of Berwyn.  One day, when Eugene was about four years old, he lay down under the table, trying to sleep. I told him he had better get up on the couch and I would cover him up. When he said he wanted a drink of coffee I thought that was strange, so I lifted him onto the couch and covered him up. On hearing a funny noise I noticed him rolling his eyes and squirming. I called Frank; we wrapped Gene in a blanket and lost no time in getting him to Dr. Wynne, Berwyn, in the Model A. It was meningitis, from which he fully recovered.

We lived on the Anderson place two miles north of our homestead. Later we bought the place and our children attended the Gould school. We lived there until April, 1951, when Frank’s father, who lived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, advised us that there was plenty of work there. Frank, son in-law Reg Gale, and our son, Dallas, went to Prince Rupert and found good jobs at the Columbia Cellulose Mill. Frank bought a house and wrote me to sell everything and come there. Prince Rupert was a good place to work. Frank worked there for eleven years, then quit as he wasn’t well, and his eyesight was bad. We then moved to Berwyn and lived in a nice new house built by Mr. Jack Glaum.

Frank and Bernice
Frank and Bernice

We spent happy days there, with good neighbours: Mr. and Mrs. Hughie McDougall, Harry and Nona Aspin, Margaret Lambert, Margaret Greff, Helen and Herb Messner, Tom and Ethel Bourk, and others.  Frank’s health became worse as the years passed, and on May 2, 1971, he passed away.  I sold our home and went to White Rock, British Columbia, to live with my sister who had lost her husband three months before. We have lived for six years in an apartment which is very comfortable. We have many hobbies to keep us busy and happy.

2 thoughts on “Land of Hope and Dreams – Frank and Bernice Sklapsky

  1. I too, have read Grandma’s story and find it so interesting that she remembers so much that I had forgotten. Thanks for posting Dwayne, I love looking at the website!

  2. Although I’ve read Grandma’s story before when the book was published, it’s been many years and I had forgotten about it. I can actually hear her voice as i read her words, and picture everything she is writing about. Now I’m realizing how important it is to really listen when our elders are telling us stories because so much is lost that isn’t written down or remembered and passed on verbally. Thanks for posting this Dwayne.

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