Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

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Prior to the recent influx of refugees from Ukraine, Canada was already home to 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent, the world’s second largest Ukrainian diaspora after Russia. The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, an open-air museum located approximately 50 km east of Edmonton, Alberta uses costumed interpreters to recreate a pioneer settlement and commemorate the lives of Ukrainian Canadian settlers from the years 1899 to 1930.

Like everywhere else, it seems, the Village is short-staffed this summer, but there were still plenty of interactive activities for us to enjoy when we visited with two of our grandchildren earlier this week.

The one room schoolhouse was a favourite. The teacher gave sample lessons in arithmetic, spelling, and grammar. She also checked to make sure our fingernails were clean and suggested that some of us weren’t dressed appropriately for school!

Learning to do laundry the old-fashioned way was also fun for Harlow and Yari.

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At the Provincial Police Post, we put Yari in jail!

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He also got to help the blacksmith.

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For lunch, we sampled a variety of authentic Ukrainian foods including pyrohy (perogies), holubtsi (cabbage rolls), sausage, borshch (beet soup), and somewhat less authentic, but absolutely delicious, pyrohy poutine!

It wasn’t until later when I looked at my pictures that I realized that I’d taken lots of photos of the kids and almost none of the village’s many buildings!

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In addition to houses, barns, schools, and various places of business that have been moved to the site from communities across central Alberta, there are three churches that are still active places of worship. As such, they aren’t open to the public.

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St. Nicholas Russo-Greek Orthodox Church was built in the rural community of Kiew, Alberta, by Ukrainian settlers from Galicia. The more elaborate St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, shown in the first photo above, originally stood in Vegreville. Though we weren’t allowed to enter, we were able to view the very traditional interior, with it’s cross-shaped floor plan, from the open doorway. 

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Although the website suggests 2-3 hours to tour the village, we took significantly longer walking the dusty streets and pathways and exploring virtually every nook and cranny that was open to us. We finished our day with a ride around the village in a horse drawn wagon.

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