The Melnick / Melnyk Family

Chapter 1

The Old Country

In 1881 on November 25th, a man by the name of Ivan Melnyk was born to Paraska (Patricia) and Joseph Melnyk, in the village of Chernaletcha in Galicia, which borders on the countries of Ukraine and Poland, now a satellite country of the USSR.
(1) The family owned a small farm, kept animals such as sheep, cows, chickens and horses, and farmed small crops for subsistence only. The family consisted of four children; Ivan, Maxwell, Dorothy, and ******. Later the children would grow dissatisfied with their lives in the “old country” and would emigrate to North America. Two would come to a little steel town in Nova Scotia during the first decade of the twentieth century. The third would emigrate to the United States. This paper will deal with the social, economic, religious and educational aspects of one of the immigrants to Sydney, my grandfather, Ivan Melnyk and his children.

In Chernaletcha, Ivan’s sister, Dorothy, worked on the farm but was able to achieve an eighth grade education. Ivan (John), however, was not so lucky; his adolescence was mainly concerned with work on the farm. The entire family was musically inclined, a tradition still passed on today. Ivan was learned in violin, clarinet, flute and mandolin; his brother, Maxwell, played the xylophone. A band was formed in the “old country” which consisted of Ivan, Maxwell and several other villagers. They played at such social events as weddings, wakes, and harvests.

When Ivan was in his teens, he learned from a Jewish villager how to play the violin. Ivan would visit this poor, Jewish musician and take lessons from him. The payment for such lessons was one egg for one lesson, usually each day. It was against his parents’ permission to take such lessons because he spent so much time at his hobby and that work on the farm was neglected. Since this seemed to be Ivan’s major interest, it seems to be one possible reason for his immigration to Canada.


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