Attending to the spiritual needs of the very religious Ukrainian pioneers was a problem
because none of their clergy had accompanied them from the Old Country. As a
result, the first religious services were held in the settlers' homes, often with one of the men
conducting the services as best he could. Father Nestor Dmytriw from Pennysylvania was the
first Ukrainian priest to visit Canada. In April, 1897, he conducted services in the Stuartburn,
Dauphin and Edna areas. This led to the establishment of the first Ukrainian Canadian parishes.
In 1897, the first Ukrainian church in Canada was built in the Edna settlement. Since
every village in the Old Country had a church in it, it wasn't long before the other Ukrainian
settlers were building churches. The design of these humble buildings was based on that of those
back home in Ukraine. The churches were small, modest buildings built of logs, employing the building
techniques used in Ukraine and proudly displaying their colourful Byzantine heritage. The church
preserved the settlers` beloved church traditions and provided a focal point for their social and
By 1900, there were six somewhat prosperous parishes with their own churches. These were
in Winnipeg, Gonor, Stuartburn and Sifton in Manitoba, and Edna and Rabbit Hills in Alberta.
Soon, however, shiny, onion-domed spires were springing up all across the prairies under the
sunny blue skies of the New World.
THE PIONEERS' CHURCHES
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Click on the thumbnail photo or church name for a larger photo and more information.
St. Michael's Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Terebowla, Manitoba, 1898-1902)
In 1896, some of the pioneers, led by Wasyl Ksionzyk, settled in the Dauphin area of
Manitoba and established the third Ukrainian settlement in Canada. They called their settlement
of fifteen homesteads 'Terebowla' after the village from which many of them had come.
St. Michael's Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church (Gardenton, Manitoba, 1899)
By the end of 1897, over 250 Ukrainian families, including over 100 Bukovinian families,
primarily from the village of Onut, had settled in the Gardenton area of south eastern Manitoba.
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church (Jaroslaw, Saskatchewan, 1903)
Ukrainian immigrants from the villages of Vitlyn, Makovys'ka and Liashky in
Jaroslaw county settled to the south-west of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, in 1897. In 1903,
they built one of the earliest Ukrainian Canadian churches, the Jaroslaw church.
'Kaplechka' or 'Ascension' Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church (Sliding Hills Regional Municipality, Sask., 1903)
Sophia and Kanistrat Welykholowa farmed in the Ukraine near the village of
Clivestie. When Kanistrat was called into the military, he went to work for a rich family.
With his wages he "paid off" the draft order and then immigrated to Canada with his wife
in the early 1900's. They settled in the Canora area of Saskatchewan, one of the first
Ukrainian block settlements with pioneers arriving as early as 1897.
St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church (Olha, Manitoba, 1904)
The first Ukrainian pioneers to settle in the Olha area arrived in 1898. These
hapless people became the victims of one of the worst tragedies to befall the Ukrainian
St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church (Seech, Manitoba, 1912)
Not far to the east of Olha is Seech, the name conjuring up memories of the island
stronghold of the legendary Cossacks. Ukrainian pioneers began settling in the Seech
area in 1899, arriving primarily from the villages of Ivanivci, Vilha, Skomorokhy,
Bychkovychi, Pylatkivci, Vilkhivka and Lychkivci in Halychyna, Western Ukraine.
St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Sirko, Manitoba, 1909)
In 1903, Ukrainian families settled the Sirko area located in the south-eastern corner of the Stuartburn colony. Although not rocky, the land was sandy, covered
by spruce, pine and some poplar trees. As a result, most families made a modest living
from mixed farming and selling cordwood.
St. Nicholas Russo-Greek Orthodox Church (Kiev/Ukrainian Village, Alberta, 1908)
St. Nicholas Russo-Greek Orthodox Church was originally located in Kiev,
Alberta, within the east central Ukrainian block settlement, one of the largest in Canada.
It has since been relocated to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village just east of Edmonton.