Back in the late 1800s the original Ukrainian settlers to Canada had primitive farm equipment to say the least. Most of the plows were pulled by oxen or horse, but in many cases when the farmer could not afford the animals they would use humans to pull the plows. It was not uncommon for eight to twelve Ukrainian women to be strapped to the plow as the fields were worked. It was a slow and painful process but it got the job done until animals could be purchased. One may ask why the Ukrainian women were used to pull the plows instead of the men. It was the simple fact that Ukrainian women especially from the areas of Galicia and Bukovina were were just as big as the men. They were thick, husky and had enormous hands which were bigger than most men's hands.
Back in the late 1800s when the Canadian government was looking for immigrants that were hard and rugged enough to populate the unforgiving Canadian prairies they turned to the Ukraine for many reasons. But one of the main reasons were the women who one government official said are, "Like another piece of farm equipment," and "That were bigger and more robust than the average European male." Because of the physiques of the women it allowed the homesteaders to be more productive because the women were just as efficient as the men.
As as the years passed the animals replaced the women as horsepower for the farm equipment and the women still worked in the fields but in a much less demanding role. As the decades passed the animals were replaced with advancing technology. And the female Ukrainians role became less in the fields and moved towards working in the house and motherhood. The times continued to change and the Ukrainian women began to pursue careers in medicine, law, education and politics and soon their contribution to a distant past was forgotten. The modern Canadian born Ukrainian knows so little about the past and what their forefathers and foremothers had done for them in terms of sacrifice and hardships that often ended in death, tragedy and misery. All this was done so that the next generations could have a better life. And as the next generation takes over the last, less will be retained, but then the day will come when there will be a revival of one's ancestral roots and a rediscovery of one's real values.
But if one walks out in the prairies and closes ones eyes and becomes transported back 125 years ago you can still sense the stout, big handed women with babushkas ripping out tree stumps and toiling and plowing the earth with nothing more than their bodies for power.