of the Swan River Valley
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998
Dan and Ksania Blazenko
Dan and Ksania arrived in Canada in 1909 bringing with them two small children Polly, age four and Katherine 2 1/2. Eight more children were born to them Harold, Bill, John, Margaret, Peter, Joseph who died in infancy, Jean and Mary.
Arriving in Canada, Dan and Ksania first settled in Marydale, later moving to McNutt, SK., Renwer, Mb and finally putting down roots in Cowan. Around 1928, they bought a homestead about 3 miles east of Cowan.
The children attended the Cowan East School when there was money for books. Many of the children left home going off to find work but John and Margaret eventually did settle in Cowan. Polly married Caleb Hayes and lived in Renwer for many years. One of her sons Lee Hayes and wife Linda did return to live in Cowan. He is a successful outfitter adding tourism to our small town.
Katherine married Leonard Testluk and lived in Winnipeg.
Harold married Marge Davy and lived in Birch River.
Bill left home and moved to B.C.
Peter married Doris Basso, lived in Ashville and finally settled in Novra.
Jean and Mary set their sites out east. Jean married Ernie Nash and Mary married Jim Gordon. Both living in Ontario today.
Margaret married Nicholas Kolisnyk in 1932, settling first in Sclater and then moving to Cowan in 1944, where they started a grocery store, which is still there today.
John married Sophie Boyechko in 1935 and lived on the family farm. Once his dad Dan passed on in 1944, they moved to the homestead and took care of Ksania until her passing in 1954. John and Sophie remained on the family farm until 1990, although John passed away in 1986, Sophie stayed on, moving to Swan River in 1990, where she resides today. They raised five children each going their own way. One son died in infancy. Most of their children have close ties to the family farm. Mary Furdievich lives in Minitonas. Olga and husband Walter Wowchuk worked in Lynn Lake, moving back and buying a farm five miles east of Cowan. Today, with son Ted, they operate a mixed farm believing that a small family farm is essential in this day and age. At one time, it was charactized as the hub of a wheel, creating a work force. It still could be today. Stella and husband Steve Wowchuk live in Thompson but have purchased a small property close to the family farm so they can always return to their roots. Ann and husband Dave Chunik worked up North and now reside in Saskatoon. The youngest and only son Tony, married Jano Chaboyer, working various places up north and Edmonton, first settling in Pelly, Saskatchewan. He eventually moved back to Cowan buying property one mile from the family homestead. He now farms it as well as the home property, while working in Swan River. Hoping it will stay in the family, maybe daughter Jodi or son Gary will inherit the love of the land.
Submitted by: Olga Wowchuk
Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.