The New Country

Once upon a time….John and Sophia Zeilinski had four sons: Szczepan*Tomaz, Januz, Josef and one daughter, Frances, whose family names are variously Zelinksi, Zilinski or Zeilinski. 

This story, however, is all about the son who grew up, emigrated to Canada and became our family’s founder, Stephen Zelinski.

(*Grandpa’s name was spelled Szczepan in the formal land documents of 1918, but that was added by the official and may not be correct. Grandpa “signed” the documents with an X. The official application lists Grandpa as “Steve Zilinski” but notes that “Steve and Szczepan are one and the same person”)

We know that Szczepan (Stephen) Zelinski (1858 – 1934) was born in Austria-Hungary and married Francis Sobel (1864 – 1952). All of their five children – four sons and one daughter – were born in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


At 53 years old, Stephen came to Canada in 1910 to homestead with his eldest son Stanley. They lived in Manitoba for a year before moving to Saskatchewan. Each of them took a quarter section homestead (160 acres), and after building a house on Stephen’s land, began farming where they settled south of Wynyard. This homestead is the same land that Kazmer Zelinski continued to farm until recently.

Our Grandmother Francis** remained in the Old Country with the four other kids until the new farm and home was established. Grandpa sent her the fare to travel over by ship and she brought over the remaining sons. However, their only daughter Mary stayed behind, as she was already married with a family of her own.

(** Francis is also listed as Francis Sorbel in church and Census records)

Nick Zelinski (1883 – 1949) married Annie Litwin (1889 – 1913) in Canada and they had one daughter Katie (Perehuda). Nick’s family moved to the Wynyard area. Ann died when Katie was only two years old. Nick was re-married to Mary Hawryluk (1896 – 1964) and they had three daughters and one son: Josie, Mike, Mary and Helen.

Anton Zelinski (1884 – 1956) homesteaded a quarter section of land adjacent to Grandfathers farm. He married Clara Chipka (1887 – 1950) after emigrating and they had three daughters and five sons: Mary, Mike, John, Annie, Joe, Paul, Peter, and Lena.

Stanley Zilinski (1891 – 1966) married Sarah Leschuk (1901 – 1976) in Canada and they had seven daughters and four sons: Francis, Pat, Mary, Carl, Annie, Frank, Steve, Ester, Josie, Kay and Helen. After getting married, they lived with Peter Zelinski for a while. Sarah’s parents then gave them a quarter of land near Bank End where they settled.

Peter Zelinski (1896 – 1970) married Barbarah Hyrciw (1903 – 1985) on September 20, 1920, and then emigrated to Canada with Francis, his mother in April 1921. Peter and his mother joined Grandpa on his farm in the Krasne chuch area and Pete went to work with the CPR.  A year later, his wife Barbara came to Canada, too. They settled in the Dafoe area living in a railway car and just before Olga was born they moved across the highway into Dafoe where they lived for three years. Barbara always said she was quite happy in the little house they had in Dafoe. They had six daughters and seven sons: Olga, Frank, Gregory, Mary, Vera, Kasmir, Jean, Victoria, Walter, Helen, Eddie, Leo and Victor.

Mary Zeilinski, the only girl, remained in Austria-Hungary (and later Poland) with her family. After World War I, the Austrio-Hungarian Empire was dissolved by the Allies. Borders shifted, nations such as Poland and Romania were re-established. After World War II (1939-1945) nothing more was heard from this part of the family. We even don’t know her last name as she married and the records were lost.

We don’t (yet) have a lot of information about the siblings of our Grandfather. We know that Jan was born in 1871 and married Katerina Drychak. They had a daughter Mary who came to Canada in 1901. Mary went to Shoal Lake, Manitoba to join her mother’s parents and relatives who had moved there earlier. And that’s where the trail goes cold…