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"Stephania Paush, born in the village of Toporiwtsi, Bukovyna, came to Canada in 1913 with her parents, Simeon and Claudia Popowich and younger brother Joseph. The family settles on a farm near Smoky Lake, where two more children were born- Emily and Victor.
From their earliest years, the Popowich children were immersed in Ukrainian culture, especially literature. Though money was scarce, somehow there was always enough for books, and the Popowich home became the setting for literary readings and discussions.
With the other children in the area, Stephania attended the Mission School, Kolokreeka, until Grade 8, and then continued on to Grade 11 in Smoky Lake. A keen student, she worked for her room and board in Edmonton for a year in order to complete Grade 12 at Alberta College. Returning to Smoky Lake, Stephania worked in the Post Office until 1930, when she married Peter Paush, a gifted teacher- conductor who had emigrated from Ukraine two years earlier.
Peter Anthony Paush, the eldest of eight children of Anton and Evdokia Paush, spent his childhood and completed his public schooling in the village of Oblaznytsia, Halychyna. Possessing a fine tenor voice, he was sent to Lviv for four years to study conducting and diakivstvo (the art of lay-singing in the Orthodox liturgy). After his return to Oblaznytsia in 1922, he conducted choirs, directed plays, and served as official diak (lay-singer or cantor) in the church. But those were years of political unrest and, threatened by imprisonment for his association with the Ukrainian underground movement against Polish rule, Peter fled the country.
He arrived in Canada in April, 1028, and worked as a farmhand near Holden, Alberta for a year. In 1929 he was hired by the Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Smoky Lake as "diak", choir leader, and Ukrainian School teacher. In addition, Peter Paush organized a theatrical group, which staged dramas, comedies, and even the operetta, Natalka Poltavka. The drama group and the choir performed in the neighbouring communities of Radway, Redwater, Egremont, Kahwin, and Bellis, where people were also hungry for cultural enrichment in their own language. The children of the Ukrainian School prepared programs throughout the year, especially for Christmas and Mother's Day.
After their marriage in 1930, Peter and Stephania Paush worked together towards promoting the development of Ukrainian religious and cultural activities in Smoky Lake. Stephania was a founding member of the Olha Kobylanska Branch of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada, and the two of them helped to organize active local branches of the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada and the Canadian Ukrainian Youth Organization (SUMK).
Late in 1934 Peter was approached by the executive of the Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of St. John in Edmonton to take over the same duties he was performing in Smoky Lake, an offer he readily accepted. This was in the middle of the Depression, and conditions were such that Stephania and their two small children, Lydia and Boris, could not join Peter until a year later. Together again, the young couple turned their energies and talents to benefit the Ukrainian community in Edmonton, continuing in the style of commitment they had developed in Smoky Lake.
In addition to his many duties at St. John's, Peter Paush established Edmonton's first Ukrainian radio programs, over station CFRN. From 1938 to 1941, 117 half-hour programs were presented for the benefit of the M. Hrushewsky Institute. With few recordings available, Peter arranged all of the music for the choir and orchestra, conducted, and sang in each of these live broadcasts. In 1945, recognizing the need for a continuing choir to perform the rich legacy of Ukrainian choral works, he organized the M. Lysenko Male Chorus. The group was immensely popular, performed frequently, won festival awards and then disbanded in 1948, when the creation of other choirs assured the continuation of good choral singing.
Over the years, Peter Paush directed over twenty Ukrainian stage productions in Edmonton: comedies, dramas, the children's opera, Koza Dereza, and in 1973, the opera Zaporozhets za Dunaiem.
Throughout the winter of 1964, Peter travelled to Vegreville and Smoky Lake to conduct classes in "diakivstvo" to the young Orthodox theology students. Congregations across Canada continue to benefit from Peter Paush's inspiring teaching.
Not only was ever Paush a fine musician, he was an artist in wood as well. He supported his family as a carpenter/contractor, but his greatest satisfaction in that area came from meticulously constructing wooden church items, especially "iconostasy" (alter screens). With his good friend, artist Wadym Dobrolige, Peter devoted the 70th year of his life to creating his masterpiece- the magnificent iconostas that graces St. John's Cathedral in Edmonton.
During all these years, Stephania Paush gave the same dedicated service to their church, and to the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada. When the National Executive of the UWAC moved its headquarters to Edmonton in 1954, Stephania was elected National Corresponding Secretary, a position she held until 1961, when she was elected National President. During that two year term (she held the office again from 1973-1975) she became the first National President to visit every one of the 120 UWAC branches in Canada. The members of even the smallest, most isolated branches were thus encouraged and assured of the interest of the National Executive and other members across Canada. At the time of her death in 1978, Stephania was once again superbly carrying out the duties of National Corresponding Secretary.
A gifted writer, Stephania Paush contributed many articles to Prominence, the Ukrainian women's monthly magazine which she helped to establish in 1960. She wrote hundreds of speeches, published a fine collection of short stories she had written about pioneer life in Canada, based on her years in Smoky Lake, and left among her papers the unfinished manuscript of a novel, Maria.
Stephania Paush was a gentle, modest, gracious woman, with a rare gift for bringing out the best qualities in others. Her life was selflessly devoted to her church and her beloved Women's Association, for which she worked tirelessly all her adult years- writing, travelling, speaking. She had a unique sensitivity which immediately understood another person's feelings and the reality of every situation. With a kind, gentle word, and her special little half smile, she supported, encouraged, and inspired others to give no less than their best.
The same ability to inspire others though personal dedication applied to Peter Paush as well. Few in Canada knew as much about Ukrainian Orthodox Church music; no one else happily sent his arrangements, even hand-written manuscripts, to all who requested them. Perter Paush was the only one in Canada who not only knew the history and design of all Ukrainian Orthodox Church furnishings, but lovingly created them from the finest wood available.
Peter and Stephania Paush personified synergy. Each, alone, would have made significant contributions; but together, supporting and encouraging one another's individual talents, they permanently influenced the development of the Ukrainian community in Canada. Bother were incredibly generous- with what littler material wealth they had, and especially with themselves. Above all else, there was great joy; in their faith, in their culture, in their family and friends, in life itself."
From Stephania (1910-1978) and Peter Paush (1902-1977), in "Our legacy; history of Smoky Lake and district and family histories of men and women who pioneered this area" Smoky Lake and District Cultural and Heritage Society, 1983: 695-697