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"Remnants of Community"

                                                                a solo exhibition by Simon Wroot

Three Orthodox Churches


Russo-Greek Orthodox Church of St. Michael the Archangel, 1909

Settlers  from the southern Ukraine or Romania arrived in the Peno district in 1899 to 1903.  Initially, services were probably held in farmhouse by missionaries from Wostok, Shandrow or Kyseliv churches.  The construction of this church started in 1909, when the logs were cut locally and hauled to the site.   All of the work on the church  was  done with volunteer labour by the founding members.  This is one of the earliest examples of an open-dome cruciform church in the area;  it has a single large dome on an octagonal base.  In 1918 the well-known church painter Peter Lipinski was hired to paint the walls and ceilings.  Characteristic  to his work, he painted the dome sky blue, adorned with angels and brilliant stars.  Sometime later the belltower that stands in front of the church was constructed from local split fieldstone.

In recent years the congregation has dwindled, and consists now of 2 members only who are unable to support an active church.  A brief service is held only when the graveyard membership bless the graves.  Although this pretty little church  is a gem nestled in its grove of spruce, it’s future, and the history and serenity that it holds is in doubt.



St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (Bukowina), 1900

During the winter of 1896-97, settlers in the new ‘Star’ colony met to discuss the need for a priest.  A farmer named Anton Sawka wrote to the bishop overseeing the Russian Orthodox Mission in San Francisco to request that he provide pastoral care for the young immigrant  community.  Two Russian Orthodox clerics were sent to the settlement from Seattle the following summer.  On July 18, 1897 they celebrated the first Orthodox liturgy sung on Canadian soil for some 380 settlers who gathered at the homestead of Theodore Nemirsky, near the site of the present Holy Trinity Russo Orthodox Church.  A follow-up visit was made in the following spring by the same group.

A few miles to the south-east, in the area that became the village of Wostok (Vostok - the east), a few of the Ukrainian pioneers began the construction of their own church in 1900.  They erected a simple log structure on a rock foundation, with a small central dome adorning the peak of it’s shingled roof. In 1922 a bell was purchased from New York for $422, a huge amount at the time.  It was so heavy that the roof was removed from the stand-alone bell-tower, a strong 2nd storey added and the roof replaced. In  There have been regular services in the church since it opened, but with the active congregation of only 25, the services are now held once a month by a priest from Edmonton who ministers to 5 churches in the area.

St. Nicholas is the oldest original church in Lamont County.


Greek Orthodox Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, 1934

 Most of the settlers in the area came from a part of Poland called Wolyn in 1927-29, but some had been homesteading since the early 1900’s.   In 1932 Greek Orthodox services were occasionally held by Rev. F. Olendi in the home of Peter Nedohin, as Rycroft was too far away.  There were 28 families who made the decision to build a church, and Mr. Karyl Hawreliuk donated 4 acres for church and cemetery for a fee of 50 cents per family.

All labour was volunteered, logs cut locally, the lumber mill worked at no charge, shingles were home made. Glass and nails were bought.  Father  Olendi worked at the elevator in Rycroft, and served the people forfree.  The church was used for 28 years, the last service was for Peter Nedohin’s funeral in 1962.

The site is still maintained, and the cemetery was recently used, and is lovingly looked after. The church is gradually settling back into the ground taking it’s stories, and those of Peter, Karyl, and their families and neighbours with it