The Mystery of Mary Boyachuk’s Birth Records: Persistence Finally Pays Off
By Jim Onyschuk
The birth date of Mary Dutka (nee Boyachuk) has been a source of some confusion. Starting with the Certificate of Birth for Helena Dutka, my mother, her mother’s maiden name is listed as Maria Bujachok and her Birth Place is listed as Storo Siolo, Austria, Galicia.
Mary was supposedly born on January 14, 1898. Later, that same year her father Yendruch/Andrew Bujaczek and mother Paraska came to Canada, sailing from Hamburg, May 21, 1898 and arriving at Halifax on June 3, 1898. He was 28 at the time and Paraska was 25. Also sailing with them were their infant son Ivan Bujaczek (no age indicated) and Anna Bujaczek (18). There was no Mary listed aboard the SS Italia. Had she been aboard, she would have been four months old, at the time.
Three years later, in the 1901 Census for District 9, Marquette there is a listing for Andri Bojaczuk (same person, new spelling), born 1871, Paraska, born 1875, Ewan(Ivan), born 1896 and Marenka (Mary), born 1899. Andri, Paraska and Ivan are listed as being born in Galicia while Mary is listed as being born in Manitoba.
The mystery is, was Mary born in Storo Siolo, as related by her daughters or in Canada as shown in the 1901 Census? If she was born on January 14, 1898, then she would have had to been born in Galicia. It is most likely that she was born January 14, 1899, which would place her in Canada. If she was born in Galicia, then she would have been aboard the SS Italia.
If she was born in Manitoba, as the Census indicates, then there must be birth records. I started a search of the Manitoba data base for births and continually came up empty. The name had morphed over the years from Bujaczek to Bojaczuk to Bujazsek to Bojaczyk to Boyachak toBujachok to Boyachok and finally becoming Boyachuk. These names were linked to the same address, so they were the same person. I tried all these spelling variations with no luck. I started to wonder if my grandmother’s birth was ever registered.
Next I tried searching using “wildcards.” I tried Buj*, Buy*, Boj*, Boy* and searched through hundreds of names. Finally I found one Mary with a surname spelt BOJCZKA. The birth date was close, January 25, 1899, but not January 14, 1899. Was the name BOJCZKA a result of a mistyped entry for BOJACZUK. It was quite probable since that name only registers only once on the data base. I reasoned that there would surely be many BOJCZKA’s registering if this was a true surname. To clinch the matter, the mother’s name for Mary Bojczka was listed as Paraska Goska. Mary’s mother’ maiden name was Paraska Gosko. How coincidental was this?
I sent away for the birth records and felt certain that this birth mystery has finally been solved. After a number of weeks I received the birth records for Mary Bojczka and it did indicate that her mother was indeed Paraska Gosko. However, her father was Ivan Bojczka and not Andri Bojaczuk. The writing was clear and legible and they did not live on Section 22, Township 27 in Range 21. So I was “barking up the wrong tree,” so to say. While disappointed, I was doubly-determined to find those records and back to the search I went.
I again painstakingly searched through hundreds of different similar-sounding surnames; I found a listing under Marie BOJACREK. She likewise had a mother named Paraska Gosko and the birth date was January 14, 1898. Paraska Gosko seems to get around. Again, I sent for the records and after a number of weeks, they arrived. It was obvious, that whoever did the transcribing, could not read the hand writing, even though it was fairly clear and legible.
The form containing the information indicated that her birth information was recorded 3 years late, on December 31, 1902. I suspected that if she was born in January, in the dead of winter, in a remote part of Manitoba that her father wasn’t too keen to register the birth right away. It was most likely, that Andrew and Paraska Boyachuk did not know of the need or how to go about registering the birth. They probably found out when there was a Census conducted in 1901. On this census, Marie’s birth was listed for 1899 and in Manitoba. The census-taker probably warned Andrew that he would have to register the birth, which would account for the 3 year delay in registration. This was probably a common occurrence with immigrant farmers being unfamiliar with the regulations. Had she been born in a hospital, or by a doctor, there definitely would have been papers filed at the time of the actual birth.
On this form 9 for “When Born” they indicate Jan. 14, 1898. This is wrong! They were in Ukraine at this time. They arrived in Canada on June 3, 1898. The birth was more likely on Jan. 14, 1899.
For “Where Born” they indicate Winnipeg, which may be wrong. For the “Name of Doctor in attendance or of Midwife or other person if no doctor” indicates that Ksenia Czetyrbok and Yedruch (Andrew) Bojaczek were present at the birth. This probably means that she was more likely born on the farm. Ksenia Czetyrbok was a relative living on the farm next to theirs. Ksenia had come over on the same boat (SS Italia) on June 3, 1898. If she was born in Winnipeg, it would make sense that a doctor would have been present. Also, If she was born in Winnipeg, I could see Andrew being there, but it would have been unlikely for Ksenia to make the long trek to Winnipeg to act as Midwife. It is bad enough on today’s roads; imagine what it would have been like in wintery Manitoba in January 1899. On the second page of the PDF Document, “Place of Birth” is listed as Gilbert Plains. This is probably correct. The “Name, Description and Residence of Informant” is Section 22, Township 27 in Range 21, which is where their farm was located and corresponds with what is on their land grant.
So this is the correct document showing Marie Bojaczek’s (Boyachuk) birth records and yes, she was born in Canada. Whoever recorded this information may have misheard Andrew or Paraska’s response or they, in turn, may not have understood the questions. We’ve solved some questions, but now we have the matter of was she born on the farm or in Winnipeg? If it was Winnipeg, could Paraska have been working there at the time as perhaps a domestic?
I will contact Vital Statistics Manitoba to have the information corrected.