The Melnick / Melnyk Family

Chapter 2

The Immigration

In 1906 Ivan Melnyk arrived in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He obtained work as a labourer in the local steel plant,  in the open-hearth department, on June 27th of the same year. He remained here for approximately six months. In that time, he was able to grasp the basics of the English language and learned of the economic potential of his new homeland. During this period, he made enough money for passage back to the “old country” and began work as an “agent” for the steel plant to get friends and relatives to come to this “new land”. If he could convince enough people to come back, his return fare would be paid.

In 1909 Ivan returned to Sydney with twelve of his villagers. Among these twelve were his sister, Dorothy, nine years of age; his brother Maxwell, and his future wife Maria Klemkovich. In the same year, he returned to the steel mill. Dorothy recalled the second crossing:

We travelled to Rotterdam by means of horse and wagon and by foot. When we arrived in Rotterdam, we were told that the ship was one hundred years old and was not guaranteed safe. But we wanted to go to this new land so bad that we didn’t care. A priest was present on the voyage and besides, “God will watch over us”. The ship was like Noah’s Ark. People and cattle were all mixed together. May people died, one was a little girl seven years of age. She was wrapped up in old blankets and thrown overboard. It took ten weeks to complete the crossing.

After three or four months Ivan married. His bride was Maria Klemkovich, a young girl he knew and courted in the old country. Maria was born in 1888 in the same village as Ivan.

Copyright © 2006 Robert Stephen Melnick. All rights reserved