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Mystery of unclaimed ashes remains unsolved

By John Moorhouse


PRINCETON -- Alexander Zubick was a young Russian immigrant living in Saskatchewan when he got thrust into the horrors of the First World War.

Now some 88 years later, what could be his cremated remains are part of the still-unravelling mystery surrounding the unclaimed ashes of 51 people discovered at the now defunct Princeton-Similkameen Funeral Services.

Peter Broznitsky, a Lower Mainland resident who recently acquired two of Zubick's service medals, said Wednesday he has contacted the Princeton RCMP in an attempt to confirm the remains are in fact those of Zubick.

According to a list released by the RCMP last week, Alexander Zubick died in 1985 at age 89. Broznitsky said his information indicates Zubick was 88 when he died in Vancouver on Oct. 12, 1985. However, a possible relative, Bertha Zubick died in Princeton in 1981.

Broznitsky acquired the medals, including some of Zubick's service records, last month from a dealer in Ontario. He gained further information through national archives.

"It's just very coincidental that I just recently acquired them," he said. "Then by happenstance, I happened to look at these news articles (regarding the remains)."

Born in Russia on April 11, 1897, Zubick immigrated to Canada and was conscripted into the army in January 1918. By that July he was in France, serving with a railway maintenance unit. After the war, he moved to B.C. and was living in Vernon in 1919. The rest of his past is unknown.

Broznitsky, who is writing a book on Russian immigrant men based in part on his grandfather's experiences, suggested Veterans Affairs Canada should step in to claim Zubick's remains if no family member comes forward.

Under the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization established in 1909, no war veteran can be denied a dignified funeral and burial for lack of sufficient funds. A Veterans Affairs spokesperson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

RCMP spokesperson Const. Annie Linteau said police are still looking for information on family members from 15 unclaimed remains from the Princeton funeral home.

There have been plenty of inquiries from concerned members of the public. Linteau said. "In the rest of the cases, we either had families come forward or members of the public provide us with information which could lead us to those families," she said.

Any family member who comes forward can reclaim the remains of the deceased. However, she noted in Zubick's case, no family member has yet come forward.

Meanwhile, charges could be forthcoming against the former operator of the funeral homes, but Linteau said the police investigation could take several more weeks to complete.

Names of the 15 unclaimed remains and their year of death are: Charles Alexander Brown (1953), David Efrain (1968), Alick Markin Engen (1981), Olivia Howard (2001), Edith Eileen Hunter (1998), Hjalmar Karlsen (year of death unknown), Bruce Calder Lawrence (1991), Lillian Susanna McIntosh (year of death unknown, Frank Palkovacs (2000), Robert Warren Joe Rusk (2001), Kalman Szekrenyes (1978), Oliver John William (1973), Harold Lynn Worthing (1975), Ann Mary Yorke (1999), Bruse Alister Young (1991).

Thursday, April 13, 2006 Copyright PentictonHerald.ca

Princeton

Princeton B.C.