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WDM North Battleford
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Regular Hours:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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Highways 16 & 40
North Battleford, SK

American-Abell steam traction engine with threshing crew of several men
Artifact Articles

Winning the Prairie Gamble


Ukrainian House

Brown suitcase

Life was hard for Ukrainian newcomers. The land was different. The language was different. A new climate and different weather patterns meant that the most urgent need was for shelter. Homes were built quickly with materials at hand. In the parkland, this meant logs, willow branches, earth and prairie grass. Prairie clay filled the gaps between hand hewn logs. Roofs were thatched with prairie slough grass.

In 1968 the Canadian Ukrainian Association and the WDM built a replica of the kind of home early Ukrainian homesteaders built. While the original walls would have been lathed with willow saplings and mudded with a mixture of clay, straw and water, the walls of the WDM home were parged with a cement, sand and water mixture. Inside and out, the walls were whitewashed as they would have been originally.

The roof was thatched, a job which has been re-done in subsequent years, usually with winter rye. Winter rye grows tall and strong. The rye is cut at the blue haze stage before the seeds develop. Seeds weren’t needed or wanted since they only served to attract birds and mice. The stalk was stripped or combed to remove everything but the stalk. The cleaned stalks were bound into tight bundles by laying them into a wooden jig and looping binder twine through them. Long tails of twine were left for fastening the bundles together on the roof. Layers of bundles were overlapped like shingles, beginning at the overhang and ending at the peak.

The roof was most recently thatched in 2013.

Read more about the process of thatching -->

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