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mykola swyntuch

Date and Place of Birth: 1925 Rakowec, Ukraine

Date of Interview: July 14, 2016

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Kassandra Luciuk

Length of Interview: 01:11:55 (raw)


He [the manager of a Fort William log camp, Northern Ontario] was set against us. Well, they were also consternated that we had arrived there…German fascists. Therefore, they were [watching us very, very carefully]. But we did our own thing…but they didn’t really like that, the old ones who had been there for a while, [there were] immigrants, and there were others there, and our own [Ukrainians]… And there were little misunderstandings between the director who was there, and he was Finnish and people also said that he was a philanderer and also a Communist. He regularly gave the better areas to his own [workers], but our own he would shove them where they wouldn’t make a lot of money… He then tried to let out a story that we were…god knows what…supposedly reported [us] to the police because there the police are responsible for things…that they arrived here and are creating unrest, they are even ready to kill someone, they probably even have weapons on them. They brought it with them. The guys sometimes joked amongst themselves when they said stuff to one another. Two of them arrived and they told the Commandant that he had to call us all together to a hall, and that they want to talk to us. Well and I was of course listening there too so that I could explain [because he could speak English]. They gathered us and had a meeting with us. And the one that’s in charge starts talking, complaining and yelling this and that. And they ask me for an explanation. I say to them, that’s not true, no one ever beat anyone up, if anyone hit anyone then why don’t you say who hit whom? ‘Oh, but they are the type that would.’  Well, there are such people but these are not because no one did that. I start talking, so he starts interjecting into what I say, yelling again, ‘oh he’s lying.’ They saw that he was the manager and they told him to sit down, to let me speak, and he can have his say later. And a little altercation went back and forth, they saw that he was a little …, and the owners of the company arrived, there were 2 of them listening and they saw something was not quite right. They told the police to take the manager out of the hall and they will speak.

They took him away. And they said, we see that there is a conflict here. That we don’t understand you and you don’t understand us a little, so there’s just one thing: god forbid that someone hit someone else. Because you are not yet citizens of the country and you can be deported back to Germany. They told me to translate that to everyone. I explained it to all of them. And I said, that is not happening and will not happen on our part. And the contractors said, they have a contract for a year, they said - well, we know it will be difficult for them, these others don’t understand this – they’ve been living here permanently, it’s hard for them to understand, you know. They’ve come here for a year, then they will go off for work wherever they want to in Canada, they are free. In the meantime, they said, we promise that if some opportunity for work opens up somewhere we will let you know and whomever wants to can go and you don’t have to finish the [one year] contract here, you can go. We agreed, and that’s what happened. After a while they announced that so many people are needed in Sudbury; at Inco, international nickel [company]. Who wants to go there? 12 of us signed up to go, the rest remained; there wasn’t room for more. So they took the 12 of us from there and brought us to Sudbury. So I ended up in Sudbury in 1948 and started work there. The government took it over, the government took us there and I worked there and I settled down there. 


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excerpt from the Interview with mykola swyntuch

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org