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We Were Lucky – Mount Cartier Community

On the last day of school in June of 1967, brothers Brian and Ron Gawiuk left their home on the family farm and walked to the school bus stop, knowing that they would not be returning to the same place at the end of the day. This was the day their family home was being moved to its new location.

Gawiuk Family Interview – Moving the House (captions available in both French and English). Enjoy this video with an English transcript.

Gawiuk Family Interview – “We were lucky” (captions available in both French and English). Enjoy this video with an English transcript.

The Gawiuk family considered themselves lucky.

They still had land above the proposed high water mark for the Hugh Keenleyside Dam. Many families living in the Ukrainian community of Mount Cartier had to move to Revelstoke or other communities. The Gawiuk family, Dennis (Danny), his wife Marris, and sons Brian and Ron were able to stay close to where Danny and his sons were born, and where their family had been farming since 1914.

The Gawiuks moved some of their buildings to the new site, but not before Danny had to burn down the original log home where he had been born, while his sons watched. The boys had to abandon their unique tree root house, built not in a tree, but beneath the roots of two large trees on the property.

Brian Gawiuk Interview – Burning Buildings (captions available in both French and English). Enjoy this video with an English transcript.

People from Ukraine and Poland settled in the Mount Cartier area south of Revelstoke in the early 1900s, and it became a tight-knit farming community.

They had their own Catholic Church, a post office, a school, and a cemetery. They celebrated their culture with a Ukrainian band and choir, and helped each other out with farm chores.

The hand-coloured photo shows fifteen children and one adult gathered on a stage. They are wearing traditional Ukrainian outfits, and each person is holding an instrument.

Children’s Ukrainian Band at Six Mile Mount Cartier Hall, March 1940. RMA photo 4950. Photographer: F. Barnes.

With the flooding of the valley, the farms were left behind and the buildings were moved, torn down, or burned.

The farm animals were sold or slaughtered. The spirit of community was displaced along with the people.