From farm to Flin Flon for long-time resident

Blanche Forseille was born on a farm in Tisdale, Saskatchewan. She moved to Prince Alberta in 1947, and in 1951 Blanche and her sister Terry arrived in Flin Flon to visit their aunt Germaine Dubois and find work.

“We arrived on the train in the morning and my aunt wanted to go to Woolworth’s that afternoon, so away we went and while we were there I applied for a job,” Blanche recalls. “I took the test and was hired on part time on the spot. How good is that?” 

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Blanche was laid off after the Christmas holiday, but she wasn’t out of work for long. She applied at the Royal Bank and by early 1952 was working at the bank.

The manager then was Otto Bergman and the assistant manager was Gordon Curl. Also working there were Audrey Perepeluk and Bernice Luchuk.

“At that time Flin Flon was a booming town, with dances twice a week, and I loved to dance!” Blanche says.

Dances were held at the Royal Canadian Legion, Jubilee Hall, Lobstick in Channing and the Elks Hall on Church Street. There were live bands with performers such as Fred Barnowich, Pete Stevenson and Wes Vickery.

Handsome man

Blanche’s sister Terry worked at the Northern Café and one night after Blanche got off work she went to meet Terry to go to a dance. A handsome young man who was having supper introduced himself. Mike Kryschuk, it turned out, loved to dance as well. 

Mike was a Winnipeg university student who had come to Flin Flon looking for a summer job.

A flood had hit Winnipeg and things were pretty bad there, so Mike decided to stay in town. He got on at HBM&S, now Hudbay, where he first worked on the bull gang. He later moved to the pipe shop, where he worked till he retired.

Blanche and Mike were married in The Pas, where his parents lived, in April 1953. Blanche’s sisters Terry and Annette stood up with her, and Mike had Henry Garuk and Hugh Whitmore with him.

In Flin Flon, the newlyweds rented a suite at Tom (Turkey Tom) Semcoe’s house on Second Avenue. Tom also owned what was known as the Crown Block on Second Avenue, which is still viable today.

Over the next 10 years, the couple had seven children. In order, from youngest to oldest, their children are Yvonne, Ron, Wayne, Brian, Gary, Denise and Darlene. Blanche was obviously a stay-at-home mom.

Blanche played ball for the Snowettes with Millie Harrower, June Petersen, Irene Leafleur, Hilda Dunbar, Jessie Hill and Toddy Murray.

In 1965, she joined the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) “just to get a night out,” she laughs.

The president of the CWL at that time was Vicky Beauchamp, and some of the members included Rose Bazylewski, Josie LeClerc, Josephine Phillips, Florence Wallaker, Pat Schiefele, Helen Schaff, Cecilia Gira, Eva Krassilowsky, Mary Danko, Rose Weber, Jeanne Reagan, Bea Reagan and Hermin Benko.

The ladies were very busy doing banquets and other church functions. They had four main catering groups headed by Mary Szocs, Louisa Czettisch, Mary Fieber and Peggy Overby, who would take turns doing the smaller events. When they did the men’s or ladies’ bonspiels, they all worked together.

“I was also president of St. Anne’s CWL, diocesan president as well as serving four years on provincial council,” says Blanche.

Blanche was also a cub leader for about 10 years. The cub groups would go to Camp Whitney by train. Other leaders included George Struch and Jim Fell.

The cub packs would hold concerts at Birchview School, with the winning pack selected to participate in the Creighton event.

Active family

The Kryschuks were an active family.

“In the summers I would fill up the ol’ station wagon with kids and away we’d go to Phantom Lake till the kids went back to school!” laughs Blanche. “What a beautiful place it was for the kids to swim and play!

“All my boys played hockey and two of my daughters figure skated. Someone told me one day that I should just take my bed to the rink.

The family also loved to go camping. One year Mike and Blanche took five of their kids and camped all the way to Vancouver Island, stopping along the way.

“This was strictly a family vacation, and we did not do any visiting of relatives along the way,” says Blanche.

“Once on the island we got a bit of a scare, as the ferry service went on strike and Mike was concerned about getting back to work.”

Blanche was concerned she would have to pack up the trailer and the five kids and head home on her own.

Luckily the strike ended just in time. The family got lined up at 4 am so they could catch the first ferry back.

Mike belonged to the Royal Canadian Legion, Flin Flon’s 21 Field Engineer Squadron and the OBs. When Mike was in the squadron, other members included Frank Gira, Bud Horrocks, Morley and Gordon Naylor, and Peter Popp.

Mike retired from HBM&S in July 1987. He passed away in July of 2008 after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Blanche kept him at home until just six days before he passed away, when they were finally able to place him in a home.

After Mike’s passing, Blanche sold her home and moved into an apartment at Ash Crescent, where she really enjoys the companionship of the other residents.

She also spends much time in the summer at her cottage at Sourdough Bay. Her neighbours there are Fred and Lorna Ghazi and Dave and Lizzie Kennedy.

Blanche likes to travel and has been to Mexico and the Dominican Republic a couple of times for family weddings. Her kids bought Blanche and Mike a bus tour trip for their 40th anniversary, and they travelled the Maritimes and some of the eastern United States.

Blanche loves to quilt and belongs to the North Star Quilt Guild. She is still very active with the CWL and plays cards. She also enjoys her garden at the lake, and berry picking with whoever wants to go.

Thanks for a very interesting memoir of your life in Flin Flon, Blanche. As long as I have known Blanche, she always has a smile on her face.

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