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KOPING, ERIK AND WILHELMINA
by Arthur Koping
Erik (born 1849) and Wilhelmina (born about 1852), were both born, grew up and married in the coastal community of Petalax, Finland. This was, and is an area where the majority of the population was ethnic Swedes and the language was also Swedish, though since 1809 it was a Grand Duchy of Russia.
Their oldest child, Reinholt, was also born in Finland, but shortly thereafter they moved to the sawmill city of Kramfors, Sweden, where Matilda, Emma, Anna, and Ester were born.
In the late 1880's and early 1890's Canada was actively recruiting settlers for the prairies. The enthusiasm was called "America Fever" and the Kopings caught it! In the summer of 1893 the family, with the exception of Reinholt, arrived in Minnedosa on their way to the "Promised Land", New Scandinavia. The first year they lived in the Immigrant House on the shore of Otter Lake. Mr. Koping worked in the sawmill nearby, but in January 1894 he filed on homestead N.W. 14-17-17W.
Reinholt, aged 19, arrived in the spring of 1894 and together he and Mr. Koping set about building a house on the homestead. Logs were plentiful nearby and they carried most of them to the building site. A few were too long or too heavy to be carried so they were brought by a neighbor, C.R. Booth, who had a team of oxen. Mr. Koping was a cabable carpenter, he made his own door frames and four panel doors, as well as window frames. During the construction the family lived in a house that had been built on S.E. 14-17-17W by an Englishman, Mr. Gray.
It was a long way to school for his and the other children in the community so in 1902, Lund School district was formed. The school was a log structure built on an acre of land donated by Mr. Koping midway along his west fence line. This school was in use until 1930 when a new school was built. It is interesting to note that as long as the school was on his property, Mr. Koping supplied the wood to heat it.
The years went by. In 1902, Matilda married Hugh Campbell and moved to Franklin, Manitoba. Reinholt had homesteaded N.W. 14-17-17W and purchased N.E. 15-17 -17W. He had a log house built there and married
Wilhelmina and Eric Koping.
Emma, Esther and Matilda Koping.
Kristin Johnson, whom he had known in Finland, but who came from New York City to marry him in 1902. Emma worked in Minnedosa.
Then tragedy struck. Anna, age 18, and Reinholt, aged 31, both died in 1906 of the dread tuberculosis. This brought a major change. Reinholt's wife, Kristin, returned to her native Finland, taking with her John, her oldest son, and her infant, Arthur. The middle child, Victor, was left, "temporarily" with his grandparents Koping. Kristin never saw this son again.
In 1908, Emma married James Turner. They lived first in Minnedosa, then in British Columbia. Ester married Axel Nyquist and they lived for a time with the Kopings before striking out on their own.
By 1915, Mr. Koping was beginning to feel the weight of the years, and Mrs. Koping was not well so Emma and her husband were asked to take over the farm. This was a very satisfactory arrangement to both parties.
In the meantime, Victor, Reinholt's son, a tall hand some lad with a sunny disposition, grew up. He was the pride and joy of the family. Shortly after his 20th bir thday he took a job in a lumber camp in what is now Riding Mountain National Park. He had only been there a few weeks when he was killed by a falling tree. This was in January 1925.
In 1934, Mrs. Koping died, but life went on for Mr.
Koping. He believed in exercise and until he was in his high nineties he "buck-sawed" the wood for the kitchen