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The Ukrainian cowboy sings his own Ukrainian country comedy: Featuring on fiddle Ron "Peanuts" Mrozik
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- Sound recording
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1 audio disc : analog, 33 1/3 rpm, 12 in
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Walter Rutka and his twin brother, Anthony, were born in Vimy Ridge near Pine River, Manitoba on June 12, 1929 to parents Joseph and Anastasia (nee Kozar) Rutka. Twin bother, Anthony, succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 3 months.
Walter attended school in Vimy Ridge. At 14 Walter was taken out of school to help on the farm after his father became ill. At age 20 Walter went to work in a gold mine in Ontario for one year, then took a job at a service station in Winnipeg for another year. He then returned to farming full time until 1958.
In August 1960, Walter met and married Dolores Weselowski from Sifton, Manitoba. They had 3 daughters Brenda in 1962, Sheila in 1964, and Charlotte in 1970.
In 1966, Walter joined Manitoba Hydro as a machine operator and retired in 1994 after a career that saw him win several awards, including numerous Hydro Safety awards and the prestigious D.J. Ross award – a Hydro award presented for Walter's tremendous contributions to his community.
Walter was also very active in politics. He was elected as a trustee to the Highway School District for one term, served as a municipal councillor for the RM of Mountain South for six years, was a delegate at the march in Ottawa for the Western Farm Organizations, and was campaign manager for NDP candidate Mike Kowalchuk who was elected that year.
One of Walter's greatest passions was music. In his early 20s, Walter spoke of how he bought a $7 guitar in Winnipeg and brought it home to try to teach himself to play. Walter's idol was Wilf Carter and he spoke of how he would go behind the barn to play his guitar and try to learn to yodel, much to the chagrin of his mother. In the 60s, Walter formed a band called the Sunset Rhythm Ramblers, with friends Joe Caruk on violin, Zenon Caruk on drums, and Walter Nakonechny on accordion. The group played at many weddings and functions for six years.
In 1975, encouraged by many friends and associates, Walter recorded his first record album of his own compositions, calling himself the Ukrainian Cowboy. He went on to record three more albums over the next few years and was invited to play at countless Ukrainian functions and festivals across Canada. Through his music and albums, Walter made endless new friends across Canada and the United States and frequently got letters, gifts, and invitations to visit from many of his fans.
Walter passed away in December 2005.
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