Ukrainian Churches in the Canadian Prairies

2 March 2020, 14:06 | Kaleidoscope-digest | view photo | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

By Areta Kovalska

Photographs: Glen Bowe and Ron Olynick

"Forgotten Galicia", February 22, 2020

Approximately 170,000 Ukrainians from the Austro-Hungarian crownlands of Galicia and Bukovina (Bukovyna) arrived in Canada from September 1891 to August 1914. The vast majority settled in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, where they obtained land to farm.

Few of the early immigrants would have called themselves Ukrainian, but rather identified themselves as Galicians, Ruthenians, Hutsuls, Lemkos, or Bukovynians. Most Ukrainians from Galicia, including Ruthenians, Hutsuls, and Lemkos, were Greek Catholic, while those from Bukovyna were Greek Orthodox. 

The first Ukrainian church built by these early settlers was St. Michael’s Orthodox church in Gardenton, Manitoba, in 1897. The following year in Star, Alberta, the first Ukrainian Greek Catholic church was built.

Old St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (October 2015). Source: Gordon Goldsborough

“While the first Ukrainian parishes built similar structures regardless of whether they were Catholic or Orthodox, the churches in Canada began to differ from those in the old country from the beginning. Building materials were not always the same. The styles of the local Roman Catholic and Protestant churches influenced Ukrainian church designs. The Canadian climate required some architectural adjustment. Few Ukrainian immigrants had significant experience in church building and few understood the theological significance of church architecture. But the immigrants were eager to have churches and many were built well before a priest was available.” (Ukrainian Churches of Canada)

As a result, many of the early churches, even though aspiring to the designs of Ukraine’s wooden churches, were basically log cabins with few decorations. Only later did churches become more decorative, especially those built in the “prairie cathedral” style of Father Philip Ruh, which combined Byzantine and Western influences.

On the whole, no one particular style of Ukrainian church architecture emerged in Canada; instead, there are many styles, which themselves tend to be hybrid varieties.

***

Today, hundreds of Ukrainian churches dot the Canadian prairies. Some are still functioning, but many are abandoned.

Fortunately, especially for those who don’t live in the region, there are Facebook groups devoted to documenting this vanishing architectural heritage, such as the group Ukrainian & Other Unique Prairie Churches. There is also a wonderful online resource about the history and architecture of Ukrainian Churches in Canada. Also worth mentioning is The Sanctuary Project, which aims to document Byzantine rite, primarily Ukrainian, sacral culture on the Canadian prairies.

Below is a small collection of these churches:

Churches in Alberta

Photographs by Glen Bowe

Rural Alberta A Ukrainian Orthodox Church near Pruth, Alberta. The second built on this site by settlers from Bukovina Exaltation of The Holy Cross, Ukrainian Catholic Parish Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Parish An old Ukrainian Catholic Church northeast of Edmonton

Ukrainian Catholic Church Assumption of Blessed Virgin MaryMyrnam, AB

The church was built in 1919 and in 1947 it was moved a few kilometers from the cemetery to the present location. Sam Hryniw built the little model church in 1967.

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church – AB

This area south of Holden in Alberta was settled by immigrants from the Chortkiv region in the early 1900s. A plaque on the church says 1907, but construction of this church was started in 1917. The cemetery was established in 1907.

Churches in Saskatchewan

Photographs by Glen Bowe

Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church – SK

Ukrainian Orthodox Church – SK

Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of St. Elia (1953) – Wroxton, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church – Peterson, SK

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin MarySK

Churches in Manitoba

Photographs by Ron Olynick from the Facebook group Ukrainian & Other Unique Prairie Churches

Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church – Rhodes, MB

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Ozerna, MB

Holy Spirit Ukrainian Orthodox Church Sifton, MB

Assumption of the Virgin Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church Glen Elmo, MB

St. Demetrious Ukrainian Catholic Church Drifting River, MB

St. Michael’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – Olha, MB

Built in 1904 by Peter Kawtucki, consecrated in 1907.

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    • bopa | 8 June 2020, 11:43

      То перераховані факти ви називаєте "фантазиями и ночными кошмарами"? Чому викладену інформацію ви "Очередная статья нижайшего интеллектуального уровня"? У вас

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:46

      Це жодна агітація. На Буковині казали :»Мойше герехт, Сури герехт».

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:39

      За часів союза, УПЦ підлягала моіковському патріярхату, примусово. Від незалежності УПЦ старалась отримати незалежність від Москви. Тепер, коли Україна має ТОМОС та незалежність то Лавру потрібно

    • Стефан | 2 June 2020, 15:54

      Последние события показали глубокий кризис РПЦ МП, где только отдельные редкие священнослужители твёрдо исповедуют Православную Веру, как схиигумен отец Сергий Романов, которого сейчас травят

    • Рокитне | 2 June 2020, 12:34

      Це добре було б.

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