BY Andrew Evans, Executive summary by darmansjah
The homemade pierogiare spot-onand the borshct is rich with dill, just like in Ukraine. But the old country is thousands of miles away; I’m on a patch of Canadian praire in ALBERTA, site of the biggest Ukrainian settlement outside of eastern Europe. Specifically, I’m at the Ukrainian Culture Heritage Village, eager for a taste of the land where I once lived.
I’m normally wary of old-timey villages, where calico-clothed employees play scripted roles. But Jeffrey Larocque is good at his job; he pulls me into a lumber shop, offers me a pig-bristle brush to paint the new barn, then takes me around back so I can choose fro man assortment of nails. Out in the rustling wheat field I spot Natalya Vanovska. “I came to Alberta from the Ukrainian city of Ternopil few years ago,” she says. But with her white head kerchief, she looks the part of a Ukrainian immigrant circa 1900. Playing a new homesteader, she motions to a sod home. “My husband and I built it!” she exclaims. “Others helped, and we finished the whole thing in five days.”
Entering the house, I touch the poplar logs and eye a decorated wood chest from the old country. This, I decide, is the real value of village museums-they’re-create scenes from the past and make sense of the present.