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IntroductionExplore the Communities

Section title: Ukrainians
Introduction | History | Daily Life | Culture | References

Daily Life

Shelter -- Pioneer Homes in the West

Every pioneer family's first job was to build a shelter. Some Ukrainians' first homes were huts built from logs and sod. This type of structure was called a burdei.

How to make a burdei:

  1. Clear brush from a plot, cut down some trees, lop off branches, shave off bark.
  2. Dig a hole in the ground and lean the logs together in the shape of an A.
  3. Cut sod (grass and the earth it is growing in) from the ground and use it to cover the logs, forming the roof.
  4. Fill the spaces between the logs with clay.

Imagine preparing for a Canadian winter in such a house!

The Ukrainian farmers built their first real homes from logs and thatched the roofs. They coated the walls with clay to keep out the wind. Then, to make their homes cleaner and brighter, they whitewashed the walls inside and out. Many homes had one room, with the windows and door facing south. Later, people built bigger homes. They put up barns to store their grain and shelter their horses, cows, pigs and hens. Some Ukrainian homes in Alberta followed the tradition of having no chimney, but a large clay oven for warmth and cooking, with simply a pipe or vent to lead the smoke outside. At first, families made their own furniture and used hand tools to do their farm work.

Ukrainian building with whitewashed walls, circa 1913   Outdoor baking oven, Siftan District, Saskatchewan, 1910


whitewashed: painted with a white mixture of a chemical called lime


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