By Dale Woodard on January 21, 2021.
When Peter Lewko arrived in Lethbridge as a teenager in 1938, things looked a little bit different.
Eighty-three years later, Lewko has been around to see that change and on Wednesday afternoon he celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friend’s at Martha’s House.
“This afternoon I’ve got my boy (Ian) coming down from Calgary and we’re having cake with everybody here,” said Lewko.
Speaking from his residence on the city’s southside, he said things looked a little different in the immediate area when Lewko arrived in Lethbridge as a 17-year-old.
“Right where we are right now, it was bald-headed prairie,” said Lewko. “They had an asparagus farm by Henderson Lake, Marty’s Asparagus Farm. I saw the government elevator being built, that was a long time ago. The old airport used to be up around there.”
Lewko, who was born in Foremost, spent some time away from Lethridge as well, both as an engineer with Canadian Pacific Railway in Frank, just east of Blairmore, and as a Second World War veteran serving overseas in England, Belgium and Germany.
Lewko served as a watchman for the railroad in Frank, where he lived in a bunkhouse.
Not that he spent much time in the bunkhouse with some grueling work hours.
“I made a lot of money at that time. I worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day. I watched after the locomotives. They were busy by the day time,” said Lewko, who shrugged off the demanding schedule.
“You just had to.”
From there, Lewko volunteered to join the army at 21 years of age in 1941 and spent his army career as a clerk at various posts, heading overseas to England in 1942.
Upon returning to Lethbridge in 1946, Lewko went back to working for CPR.
“I came back as a fireman and then went on to become an engineer.”
Lewko worked for CPR for 39 years before retiring, though he took up some salesman work on the side after leaving the CPR.
On Wednesday afternoon, the plans were in place at Martha’s House to celebrate Lewko’s centennial.
“I’ve had a pretty busy day and I’ll be busy this afternoon,” he said.
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