Director: Stephen Onda
Location: Esterhazy, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan born Director
Stephen Onda, in his visually beautiful and spiritually uplifting film,
Kaposvar - The Faith of Lajos Nagy, takes us to the Hungarian festival
at the Cathedral of Kaposvar, in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. Many of those
who attend the festival are descended from the original Hungarian pioneers
who settled the area, and it is through their memories that we learn of
the life of Lajos Nagy, one of the early pioneers and community leaders,
who physically helped build the cathedral 1906. Lajos' experience in settling
Saskatchewan was similar to many of the pioneers, and it is through exploring
his life that we learn a little of the suffering, hardships and triumphs
of a people instrumental in making Canada's prairies her bread basket.
Lajos Nagy arrived in Canada with his family at the age of 18 in 1888.
Like the other Hungarian pioneers, they had been attracted to Saskatchewan,
mainly because of brochures put out by a Canadian Immigration Agent, Count
Esterhazy. The Hungarian immigrants soon discovered that Canada's West
was not the "Garden of Eden" as it had been portrayed. They
faced the brutal cold of a prairie winter and the isolation of a community
25 miles from the nearest railway line by Red River Cart. The rich soil
which they had been told about was covered in virgin forest. For the first
five years, Lajos Nagy and his wife lived in a sod hut cut into the side
of a hill. Through the winter, he would clear the forest, and in summer,
he worked at ridding the land of the stumps and preparing it for plowing.
The work was slow, agonizing and brutal.
During these tough years, Lajos, like many in his community, leaned heavily
on their Catholic faith to get them through. Slowly, Lajos and the other
Hungarians of Esterhazy, built a community. One of the first buildings
they erected was a church. In 1906, when the wooden church burned to the
ground, the community rallied, and built from the ashes a stone cathedral
which remains to today the centre point of the Hungarian community. It
is here that the Hungarians of Saskatchewan gather each year for the "Festival
of Kaposvar," to celebrate not just their faith, but four generations
of shared history - from the sod hut to the modern community of Esterhazy.
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