Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is approaching. Ramadan is a time for community, with friends and family coming together to observe the fast. It is a significant month for Muslims around the world, marked by hope and spiritual growth.
The Dr. John Archer Library & Archives recently received a generous donation of 262 unique pieces of art by the late Dmytro Stryjek from his granddaughter, Judy Harris. Born in 1899 in Ukraine, Stryjek moved to Hafford, SK in 1923. After his retirement from the Canadian National Railway in 1965, he began drawing and painting in earnest, inspired by the religious imagery of the Ukrainian church. Stryjek’s colourful folk art is the product of a curious mind and can be found in collections all across Canada.
Dmytro passed away in 1991 in Saskatoon, SK. Heartfelt thanks to Ms. Harris for this amazing donation.
In 2023 the University of Regina Press celebrates its 10th year of publishing. It’s also the 50th anniversary of its predecessor, the Canadian Plains Research Center. The Dr. John Archer Library & Archives has all of their approximately 400 publications. We’ll showcase selected titles in our display case and online throughout the year.
The Dr. John Archer Library & Archives and the ta-tawâw Student Centre are pleased to welcome Michelle Good, author of the award-winning novel Five Little Indians. Please join us at the ta-tawâw Student Centre (Research and Innovation Centre, Room 108) on Friday, March 24th from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm. Michelle Good will read passages from the novel Five Little Indians, followed by a question and answer session.
This event is part of the One Book One Province program organized by the Saskatchewan Library Association. The program will see libraries, book clubs, and individuals all across Saskatchewan join together in March 2023 to read this book and share discussions about the story.
Michelle Good is a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. She has worked for Indigenous organizations from the time she was a teenager. She obtained her law degree at the age of 43 and worked primarily with Residential School Survivors. In 2014 Ms. Good obtained her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing from UBC. Five Little Indians is her first novel. It has won several awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Amazon First Novel Award, and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Award.
Archives & Special Collections hosted William Smith, a researcher from Manitoba, in our reading room more than ten times in the last two years. William kindly shared the following statement about the work that keeps bringing him back to Archives:
The Trail of the Kovacs by William Smith (Kovacs)
I am working on a publication that aims to follow a trail first discovered by Andrew H. Marchbin of Ottawa. Marchbin encountered Paul d’Esterhazy’s correspondence with the Government of Canada’s Department of Interior records somewhere around 1930. This led him to ask the Department to donate the records to Archives Canada, which became the “90895” files, and corresponds to the number assigned to the first letter received from Count Esterhazy in 1885. The title of the file was “Paul d’Esterhazy Hungarian Colonization Scheme”.
In 1934, Marchbin summarized his findings by writing papers that appeared in the Slavonic and East European review. He gave numerous references to the collection he had found in Ottawa and formed strong opinions of those who initiated colonization schemes with Sir. John A MacDonald, Prime Minister of the Conservative government at the time. He stated before the Canadian Historical Society at McGill University that “Count Paul O de Esterhazy sowed the first seeds of Colonization of Canada of Southeast Europeans”. (2002-2 box 1, book 1, p.52.1)
This brings us to Martin Kovacs, a history professor at the University of Regina of Hungarian descent. Kovacs followed in Marchbin’s footsteps and proceeded to collect all the records pertaining to “Count” Esterhazy from the Public Archives of Canada. This material enabled him to write numerous manuscripts, papers and three publications throughout his career about his “Magyar” heritage.
In 1981, I became aware of the Martin Kovacs research material and contacted him in Regina. Correspondence led to the two of us meeting in Winnipeg during a conference he was attending, and he asked that I bring my father as well. Martin critiqued Marchbin’s writings for me so I could proceed with the writing of our own local history of Huns Valley, Manitoba. Martin said he recalled seeing an interview of my Great Grandfather, Joseph Kovacs, at the time before he anglicized his name to Smith. Martin was able to give a detailed recollection, including the point of place that my Great Grandfather was born, how many children he had, and that he was a baker in Hungary. These details lined up directly with my own personal research on him. Martin offered to find the interview and share it with me.
Unfortunately, he was never able to locate it, but that may have been a blessing in disguise as it brought me to Regina to find the article myself.
In my retirement, I finally found time for a long-delayed trip to Regina to locate the interview in the Kovacs’ collection with my Great Grandfather. I tracked it down at the University of Regina Archives and established e-mail correspondence with both the University Archivist and the Archives Assistant for Private Records. By this time Martin had passed away and most of his research was in the care of his wife, Anna, who had intentions of donating her late husband’s records to the Archives. This material amounts to approximately 10 linear feet, including textual records and audio material along with hundreds of photographs.
In 2022, the task began to find Martin’s reference to that interview with my Great Grandfather. My searching was rewarded on about the fourth of my monthly visits to the archives, with all the staff, due to this momentous occasion, receiving my gratitude by way of flowers and chocolates!
This shallow dive into the University’s archival records, however, also exposed me to all of Martin’s research on Count Esterhazy and the treasure trove of material related to this mysterious gentleman. That is how the adventure for the book I’m writing began.
The Martin Kovacs collection is a great resource for anyone doing family research and genealogy. His detailed material covers the communities of:
Bekosvar (Kipling, SK)
Esterhaz, Kaposvar (Esterhazy, SK)
His material also covers many of the “one room schoolhouses” in these areas too numerous to mention. And last but not least, a priceless collection of pictures and family letters.
For more information on this collection, see https://www.uregina.ca/library/services/archives/collections/faculty-staff/kovacs%20.html
Today is International Women’s Day, giving us pause to reflect on gender inequality, discrimination, and the opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements.