Tag Archives: Pamela K. Clark

The Injustices Endured by Settlers | Review of “Kalyna” by Pam Clark (2016) Stonehouse Publishing


Every story that deals with settlers are unique stories that deal with hardship and pain. They are important lessons for us to understand how people worked to develop the land into the nation we have today. But one book has recently come across documenting a people’s quiet resolve while not only dealing with the hardships of climate and isolation but also dealing with a grave injustice. And that book is Pam Clark’s Kalyna.

Page 51

Katja’s eyes darted back and forth at the buildings and the dusty road. There was no spirited market alive with people and vegetables. No children were playing. In fact, the street was quite deserted. One shopkeeper was leaning on the wooden railing outside his Hudson’s Bay tuck shop and nodded to Wasyl. Wasyl tipped his hat to the man. Robert Benton had seen many of these new folks come through here and knew that the farmers would be back to town for some staple goods when the time came. Best to be welcoming now.

“There is no one here.” Katja murmered, “Where is everyone?”

“Wasyl knew Katja was expecting a life similar to Drobomil and he too had expectations, for what else did they have but their previous life to compare this to?

There would be greater isolation at first, he anticipated, but this would subside as more land was settled and the bloc settlement continued to grow. The Dominion Land clerk had confirmed this with his land grant.

“Katja, there are many of us, just like in Drobomil. We just live farther apart. That is the government’s declaration. They was dispersed settlement. We will meet people. We will come to the church on Sunday and meet others just like us.”He nodded to the cupola. “It’s a reminder of home, no?”

The story is set in the early part of the 20th Century. Katja and Wasyl have made the difficult journey across the Atlantic to the Canadian prairies. They work hard to build their new lives and find new friendships in the town of Edna-Star. But just things seem to settle down, the ghosts of World War I rise and the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians threaten the family’s stability and future. Yet the family endures.

Page 125

In such a small close knit community as Edna-Star, new travelled quickly. At church on Sunday the priest spoke about the internment, the about hope. Official word had been given that seven men from the bloc community had been imprisoned over the past several weeks and were housed in a forced labor camp in Banff National Park, called Castle Mountain. Mr Benton had given Katja and Mary a copy of The Edmonton Gazette where an article from The Crag and Canyon newspaper, out of Canmore, had been reprinted. It announced the opening of the camp and advised Canmore residents, particularly lady folk, to be on guard, for there were criminals in their midst. And what is their crime? Katja thought, as she read the article. That they came to Canada and wanted a better life for their families?

The priest spoke of forgiveness and peace at this time of war. While the congregation prayed for the men, fathers, sons, and brothers, Katja also prayed for Mary and her baby. She peeked out during the prayer at Mary’s face, serene and calm. Mary’s parents had urged her to move home to the village and live with them until Ivan returned, but Mary would have nothing of that. She would link Katja’s arm in hers, insisting they would weather this together. Katja was grateful for Mary’s company and conversation. Their division of labor for the mundane household chores happened naturally and Katja marvelled at their unspoken understanding of their need for time alone as well.

Clark stated in numerous interviews that this was a story ‘inside her’ for many years. It was enjoyable to finally see the story and her hard work coming out in print. The story is detailed and complex at times but it also emotional and enlightening. And yes, it is a story about settlers but it also a story about an injustice and how a group of hard-working people endured that injustice at enormous cost at times. A truly Canadian story and an honest one.

Page 171-172

Wasyl stopped writing suddenly. He had let himself just write and not think and now he knew he couldn’t send this letter to Katja. He was out of line and the guard would never allow it out of the camp. He crinkled it up and boosted hinself off his lower bunk. He walked to the fire stove and threw the crumpled ball in before on of the guards could stop him; his words becoming glowing orange embers. It wold be one more week until he would be granted tokens for the canteen to get another sheet of paper, but he needed time to think about what he could and couldn’t say to dear Katja. He needed time.

Wasyl looked up at Ivan in the top bunk, his hands bandaged and wrapped like a mummy, clutching his head, and peeking out beneath the woollen blanket. Wasyl had to find a way to convince Ivan to be strong now. He could see his friend spiralling downward and knew if he couldn’t intervene, the would all end badly for Ivan and maybe him too. There was little opportunity to talk to each other privately in the barracks as the guards wandered between the rows of bunks and clapped their batons into the palms of their opposite hands menacingly. Wasyl had seen one of the guards hit a fellow prisoner when walking to the quarry at Castle, accusing him of walking too slowly. He couldn’t chance having anything happen to Ivan had to find a time to talk deeply to him. Wasyl stared at the blackened flakes and chastised himself for wasting the paper, but only for a minute. The letter wouldn’t have gotten out of the camp.


Kalyna by Pam Clark is a enlightening and interesting read about hard-working settlers and the injustices they endured. Truly a great read.


Link to Pam Clark’s website

Link to Stonehouse Publishing’s website for Kalyna

Link to my Q&A with Pam Clark – “ ‘We are all settlers’ was a prevalent thought as I was writing Kalyna.”



“ ‘We are all settlers’ was a prevalent thought as I was writing Kalyna.” | Q&A with author Pamela K. Clark


A few weeks ago, I shared Anne Logan’s blog review about Pam Clark’s Kalyna. (Click this link for that review) That action caused not only a number of retweets/shares on my social-media sites but also garnished some anecdotal conversations about the book in real life. I reached out to Clark for a Q&A and she graciously agreed. Her comments will no doubt continue even more interest in her book to my followers.


1) Could you give a bit of an outline of Kalyna?

Kalyna is a novel about our collective history as Albertans. It explores the story of one family’s journey from Galicia, Ukraine who settle in the developing bloc settlement of Edna Star, but I hope it will resonate with the thousands of families whose ancestors undertook similar journeys from a multitude of countries. “We are all settlers” was a prevalent thought as I was writing Kalyna. Themes of love, forgiveness, injustice and belonging are woven throughout this novel which seeks to share the little known history of Ukrainian Canadians’ internment in Banff National Park in World War 1. The novel is an ambitious work, spanning over seven decades in Alberta. I hope readers will see their own histories whether their families came in the first wave of settlement or their families have just settled here.

The story begins in Ukraine in the early 1900’s, a time of changing borders and conflict; a time of collective farms under controlling owners, a time of poverty and fear. A young couple is wooed by Clifford Sifton’s promise of land and freedom in the “last best west” and embark upon the journey to Canada’s prairie land. The bulk of the story takes place in Edna-Star, a bloc community of settlers, banded together by culture and determination to prosper in the new land. Banff, Alberta figures prominently as the setting of the internment camp becomes like one of the main characters, Wasyl Federchuk, is interned in Castle Mountain camp in the summer months and Cave and Basin camp in the winter months during WW1 – 1915 – 1917 and his family’s life is thrown into turmoil.

Which character do you most identify with and why?

I most identified with the strength and courage of Katja. She is a complex and complicated character, radiating charm and humility coupled with fierce determination and fear at times. She makes mistakes, is a great friend, moves forward with calm serenity and loves her family very much.  I was inspired to write the character of Katja as a tribute to my Grandma Olga.  Many readers have told me I’m like Kalyna though. I keep looking for resemblances.

How did this novel compare with your own family’s story of settlement?

My Great Grandparents came to Canada in the second wave of Ukrainian immigration in the 1890’s and my Grandma Olga was born in 1905 in Edna Star Alberta. Growing up, there was not a great deal of talk about the past, my family seeming to prefer thinking about the future.  I remember meeting Great Aunts and Uncles and hushed conversations about the “Old Country”.  It was when I was an adult that I began to ask my Grandma more about her life:  her childhood, her memories and her home.

What relevance do you feel this novel has with present day immigration to Canada and our role as a society?

One of the reviews of Kalyna stated that, “ it is a timely novel,” as we face ongoing immigration to Canada.  I believe that our wonderful country has tolerance, peace and security for all citizens as its foundation and as we welcome refugee families from Syria and other countries, I trust that Canada will continue to be as welcoming as we can be.  Our quality of life and freedom from tyranny has such a base in history and that is why Kalyna is an important story to share.  When we understand our collective history as a nation such as reconciliation in the First Nations communities, there is great opportunity for communication and progress.

Were you surprised about anything in the novel? If yes, what was it and why were you surprised about it?

Surprise is a part of the process of writing for me. Sometimes, as I was writing Kalyna, there were two or three paths I had ruminated about and then I had to decide which path the novel would follow.  At the time, I would ask myself, “Really? This is going to happen to Ivan or Katja or Wasyl?” and on I would write.    This is the element of surprise in the writing process as a whole.  I am also surprised how much I still think of Aya left alone in Montreal when Katja, Ivan and Wasyl make the trek out West.  I have had readers ask my about her and she must have resonated with them too.

2) The Stonehouse website states that  ‘Kalyna was inside of you for many years.’ Is this a story based on memories, anecdotes, research or a combination of factors? How long did it take you to write Kalyna?

Kalyna was written with my  passion of Ukrainian culture and Canadian history,  family memories, and from research.  I first heard of the Ukrainian Internment in 2000, on CBC Radio.  My research led me to uncover the brilliant book by Lubomyr Luciuk entitled, In Fear of the Barbed Wire Fence. This book led to other archival sources and journals, thus the story began to unfold.  Although I told the story out loud to my family and began to write it many times, the novel finally unfolded in 2012/13 while I was living in Newfoundland.

3) How did you get involved with Stonehouse Publishing?

I found out about Stonehouse through the Alberta Writer’s Guild.  I knew I wanted Kalyna to be published locally as that is where I felt it’s initial audience would be.  Stonehouse was a wonderful fit for Kalyna, a maverick publishing house supporting historical fiction.  I am thrilled to be one of their inaugural five authors this year.

4) I see by your website you have a list of dates already set for readings and discussions of Kalyna. Are public events something you enjoy doing?

Absolutely!  I love meeting the readers and setting in motion a discussion about the characters and sharing the readers’ own settlement stories.  I believe that everyone is a storyteller and this comes out at readings, book clubs and events!

5) Who are your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?

I have so many and often say, “ This is my favourite book,” for the time.  I revel in Canadian literature and my go to author of fiction and poetry is Michael Crummey, whose writing style is very engaging and inspiring to me.  I have just finished Katherine Govier’s, The Three Sister’s Hotel which featured my favourite place of Banff and showcased her historical research. (Link to my Q&A with Katherine Govier: For years I’ve been fascinated by the characters who came to the Rockies in the early twentieth century . . .(t)hey never made it into the history books) I am currently reading A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler and next up is Elizabeth Hay’s His Whole Life.

6) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you care to share?

I am….it is a departure from historical fiction that takes place in Japan.  Perhaps, I’ve been inspired by all the thrillers I’ve been reading the past year.

7) You seem to be active on Twitter quite a bit?  How do you feel about using it in relation to your book?

I see Twitter as a platform for finding out lots of information in a short time and letting users delve deeply if they choose, sort of like reading the headlines and then following up on the stories that interest them the best.

8) The biographical description on you on the Stonehouse websites says you are currently living in Calgary. How do you like living there right now? Does the city’s cultural scene inspire you in any special way?

Calgary is such a vibrant city with a maverick spirit that radiates unity in community.  I treasure the natural beauty of the city and it’s incredible proximity to Kananaskis, Canmore and Banff and am inspired by the people around me everyday.  I love the theatre, music and art exhibitions here and, of course, love to attend readings by fellow authors at Owl’s Nest and Shelf Life in town!


Again, thank you for answering these questions. I am looking forward to reading Kalyna and telling my fellow book-fans about it!


Thank you for sharing the story of Kalyna with your readers!  I’d love to hear what they think of the novel!


Link to Pamela K. Clark’s website

Link to Stonehouse Publishing webpage for Kalyna