Ukrainian Orthodox Heritage Church

   The parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Canora has something to be proud of, this millenium year. On a warm sunny day August 6,2000 a special Divine Liturgy was served at the newly restored Heritage Church, with close to 200 worshippers from across Canada and the United States in attendance.

    The special occasion was part of the overall millennium celebrations held in the community of Canora, Saskatchewan as people from all over Canada and the United States gathered for three days of homecoming celebrations, class reunions, entertainment, reminiscing about their past and re-discovering their roots.

    One and one-half years ago, under the leadership of the executive and president Victor Schigol, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity parish decided to initiate a millennium project of restoration of the Heritage Church. A committee was struck which included Victor Schigol, Stephan Kobelka, Jennie Ortynsky, Dobr., Karen Wasylenko, John Oystryk, and Father Peter Wasylenko. The committee sought funds and was successful in securing a grant in the amount of $ 4000.00 from the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation, Government of Saskatchewan. In addition, an appeal went out to all members of the parish as well as to former parishioners (see The Herald, October 15,31, 1999), to please consider giving a donation to this worthy project. The project included complete restoration of the exterior and interior components of the church building.

    The Heritage Church is of significant historical importance in the community of Canora and area. The church is considered one of a kind in the province of Saskatchewan and all of Canada. Built in 1928, the church has drawn tourists and worshippers from all over Canada, the United States and Europe. Mr. Temish Pavlychenko, born in Ukraine and a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, designed and supervised the building of the Heritage Church. Archival reports indicated that Professor Pavlychenko suggested that the unique Kyivan style of architecture from Ukraine's capital could be incorporated into the church. Mr. Michael Dereniwski constructed the dome crosses.

    On June 2nd, 1928, the Feast Day of the Holy Trinity, the cornerstone was laid. On December 2nd, 1928, Rev. Father D. Seneta and rev. Father D. Kirstiuk performed the official opening of the church. In 1944, Sam Sloan, a local Canora artist, designed the Iconostas inside the church. Later, Mr. Sloan would become known for his creation of a tabernacle now in a place of honour at St. Demetrius Church in Toronto and his sculptured work "Prometheus" appeared at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto, in 1969.

   Between 1940 and 1960 the church membership, grew substantially to warrant the construction of a larger building. In 1962, blueprints for the new building were drawn and in 1963 the church was erected. The new church is located two blocks south of the Heritage Church. In 1984, the Town of Canora proclaimed the Heritage Church as a heritage site.

    The restoration of the Heritage Church involved hundreds of hours of volunteer work by many people. Three primary people dedicated themselves in the physical work of the restoration of this unique and beautiful church structure. They included Stephan Kobelka, John and Olga Drozd, all of Canora, Saskatchewan. The results of their labours are a breathtaking and spiritually uplifting experience of a living church. They were assisted by many volunteers in ensuring this project was completed for the millennium celebrations in Canora.

    The church cupolas were transformed from rust to shining silver adorned with gold crosses. The main cupola window holds a shining trident, which prior to the project was hardly visible. The interior of the church received a restoration of the wood floors, and refreshing coats of paint.

    In his comments on Sunday following the Divine Liturgy, Father Peter Wasylenko remarked how truly blessed the parishioners were with the successful completion of the restoration, and complimented all individuals who played a part, no matter how large or small, in seeing the completion of the project. This Heritage Church, Father Wasylenko declared, is a living church, and serves as a constant reminder of our roots, our past and that without the past, there can be no future; that we must care for our historical past in order to move forward into the future with a renewed faith in God and our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    The Divine Liturgy was followed by a potluck luncheon on the grounds of the church. The Maria Markovych Branch of the UWAC catered the luncheon. Attendants were uplifted by the events, and one could not help, but hear whispers and conversations about their baptisms, weddings, and personal reflections of their days worshipping in the quaint church over the years.

    As there are some finishing touches yet to be done, the Ukrainian Orthdox Church of the Holy Trinity invite you to support the ongoing work for this historical church by making a financial donation. The parish thanks all of those individuals for their prayers and donations to date. If you wish to submit a financial donation, please forward your donation to:

Ukrainina Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity
P.O. Box 1389
Canora, Sk. S0A 0L0.

    Do you have a story to share about this church? If anyone has any information about the original work, founders of this church or personal reflections, please forward your story to:

Father Peter Wasylenko  
P.O. Box 425
S0A 0L0
to be compiled into a historical booklet at a future time.

Submitted by Dobr. Karen Wasylenko