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Sheepskin Vest/Keptar, c.1910

This embroidered sheepskin vest, or keptar, originally belonged to Partyn (also known as Carteme) Wlasichuk. He later passed it down to his son George.  

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Coming to Canada
The Wlasichuks lived in the Bukovina region of what is present-day Ukraine. In 1913 or 1914, Partyn, his wife Zanahiria, who went by Rosie, and their youngest sons Wasyl (who went by Bill), George and Steve came to Canada. George was approximately 11 years old at the time. Partyn and Zanahiria’s two eldest sons Metro and John, had immigrated to Winnipeg in 1909.   

Wlasichuk family portrait. The keptar can be seen on a boy at the front of the photo. Click on image to enlarge

This portrait may have been taken to mark the occasion of the older boys leaving for Canada. The family are wearing their best clothing. They are adorned with beads and the keptar vests which lends an air of formality to the portrait. Men specialized in making and decorating keptar, doing their own embroidery, trims and leather work. 

Family Heirlooms
The 1921 Canadian Census suggests the whole family had reunited and settled together near Veregin, in the RM of Sliding Hills. Little George grew up to work for Canadian Pacific Railway and farmed. He loved carpentry and playing cards and most of all he loved his grandchildren. George lived to 94 years old and passed two keptar vests down to his children. Both are now a part of the WDM Collection. 

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