A former Red Deerian’s new book aims to capture the old way of life on the Prairies.
Dion Manastyrski, who attended Red Deer College and lived in the city for six years, recently released Prairie Sunset: A Story of Change. The book features photos of historical places and anecdotes from retired rural people in the Prairie provinces.
Prairie Sunset, which is described as a tribute to the homesteaders who settled here, was an 11-year project across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“I wanted to create a fine-art, high-quality book about the past, to be handed down to future generations.
“It’s a book about hope and dreams, hardship and survival, family and community, and most recently, rapid change. It highlights the richness of the way of life on the small family farm. We all need our family farms, and so this is a story we are all connected to,” said Manastyrski.
Manastyrski’s grandparents were homesteaders who came from Eastern Europe.
The author, who’s been a professional photographer for 20 years, made eight road trips across the Prairies between 2003 and 2014, interviewing retired farmers, one-room school teachers, railway workers and more.
There are 200 quotes from rural people and 120 colour photos taken by Manastyrski. An additional 50 black-and-white photos from government archives round out the collection.
“I wanted this book to capture the essence of this way of life, which began with those who settled the land and built the agriculture of the Prairies. This part of our history is vanishing quickly and it’s an important part of Canada’s history,” he said.
Manastyrski said he wanted to capture photos and history in a compelling way to spread interest about rural Prairie living.
“I want people to know what the early settlers went through, because it is so far removed from today’s life, and I want future generations to understand a bit about it.
“Above all, through the words of the people I interviewed, I wanted to show the cultural boom that happened in the rural Prairies over the past century, and the enjoyable way of life of the family farm, and the importance of supporting our small towns,” he said.
The book is available in three Red Deer stores: Country Cupboard, Peavey Mart and Sunworks.
For more information, visit www.prairiesunset.ca.