Walter Wawruck stands before the Holy Ascension church in 2001. He recalled the church under construction in the fall of 1918, as he walked past the site on his way to his first year of school, at age seven.

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

A Remote Homestead

1904 Survey Map

When Maksym and Maria Wawruch arrived at their homestead at SE-20-25-10-W2 in 1905, it was a remote wilderness. The Dominion Land Survey had marked out the boundaries of the land parcels only the preceding year. On the 1904 survey map, the area was designated Pheasant Forks, after Pheasant Creek which passes about six miles west of the homestead, and flows south-east to the QuAppelle Valley. When they first arrived, my grandfather travelled by ox-team to the village of Lemburg, situated on a rail line thirty-two miles cross-country to the south-east of the homestead, to purchase supplies from the store.

Lemburg and Neudorf, the adjacent village, were the centres of German settlements. The settlers had come from German colonies in Galicia. Neudorf was a settlement between the modern cities of Ivano-Frankivsk and Kolomaya, and Lemberg is the German name for Lviv, capital of western Ukraine. The Germans settlers spoke Rusyn, and many Rusyn immigrants found employment at these railway communities, which had lumber yards, hotels, flour mills, blacksmiths, general stores, and restaurants. [4]

My father wondered why my grandfather did not travel to Balcarres, which was more accessible, for supplies. The explanation likely can be found in the fact that in Lemburg he could converse in his native language, and visit with people from his homeland.

Soon after, a store opened near the Hubbard town-site at a place called Kelsonia. My father recalled seeing a sign, as a child, for the Kelsonia Trading Company, mounted in a successor general store in Hubbard. With the coming of the railway line in 1908 and the incorporation of the Village of Hubbard in 1910, general stores and other services, including mail and rail transport became available nearby.

The 1914 map shows the Grand Trunk Pacific rail line, and the Villages of Fenwood, Goodeve, Hubbard, Ituna, Jasmin, and Kelliher, in alphabetical order from east to west This is a section of the "alphabet line" which is an often noted feature of Saskatchewan place names.

1914 Survey Map

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

The Three-armed Byzantine Cross

Holy Spirit - 1950s ?
This photograph of the Holy Spirit or Musyj church shows a three-armed, Byzantine cross on the steeple. My father said this was the original cross until it was replaced by a Latin cross, likely in the 1960s.

The three armed cross identifies the churches of the byzantine rite, including all Orthodox churches in Europe and the Middle East as well as the Uniate or Greek Catholic Church, at least in Europe.

Bishop Budka Icon
The icon of Bishop Budka, now a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic church, shows him holding a three-armed cross.
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar - May 2005
A photograph of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the Greek Catholic Patriarch of Ukraine on the occasion of his visit to Canada in May 2005 shows him similarly holding a three armed cross.

In Canada, Uniates adopted the Latin cross exclusively. It served to distinguish the Uniates from the Orthodox Byzantines. The two crosses became potent symbols, if not battle flags, which differentiated the two camps in what became a bitter, and hostile, separation of the Ukrainian community in Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. In some areas, disagreements among Orthodox and Catholic Ukrainians degenerated into physical violence and even gunshots. In the Hubbard area it was manifested in social ostracism and shunning. Those who crossed denominational lines in marriage, for instance, might be shunned by their families.

Hryniuk describes the split between Greek Catholics and the breakaway Orthodox in this way.

"A wide rift speedily grew within the Ukrainian community. Among its practical effects were split families, theft and destruction of property, numerous lawsuits, and bitter polemics in the Ukrainian-language press". [33, p.35]
Antonia (Antoshka)Filko expressed a wish to be buried beside her sister-in-law, Rosaria Moskal, in the Greek Catholic cemetery at the Holy Spirit or Musyj church, even though she and her husband Fred were part of the breakaway Orthodox parish of The Holy Ascension. When she died in 1922 her husband respected her wishes, and had her buried there in spite of resistance from the Holy Spirit parish. He subsequently installed a three-armed cross as a grave marker, but the marker was removed twice by vandals. Only when Fred Filko threatened to have his wife's body removed from the cemetery was the headstone finally left in peace.

In Ituna, a group of 30-odd members left the Uniate Church in 1921 to form a Ukrainian Greek Orthodox parish over an issue in dispute. This report describes how a three armed cross became the symbol that marked the disagreement:

The parishioners began discussions regarding plans for their own building and they erected a large cross on the cemetery site where they hoped to erect their church. In September 1923, however, when Rev. Fr. S. Sawchuk arrived in Ituna to perform a church service it was noticed that someone had dislodged the cross and thrown it into a nearby lake. [4].

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Did Maksym Wawruch and
Nikita Budka Meet?

On August 16, 1913, Bishop Nikita Budka, blessed the Holy Spirit church, scarcely two miles from the Wawruch homestead. Maksym Wawruch was a founder of the church and on that date was likely a parishioner. Among Maksym Wawruch's papers is Bishop Budka's memento card, and it is reasonable to think that the card was acquired on that date.

A Momento Card from Bishop Budka
The insciption on the card reads:
Bishop [for the] Canadian
Nikita Budka
Help me [with] Your

If they did meet on that date, it would have been a reunion of two neighbours from the old country. They both came from humble families in the vicinity of Zbarazh. Budka was from the Village of Dobromirka , 15 kilometers from Wawruch's home in Koshlakeh. Seven years younger than Maksym Wawruch, Nikita Budka grew up and received his primary and secondary education in the district, no doubt in the same state-sponsored, Uniate Church educational system.[Hryniuk, 33, p.29]

Koshlakeh and Dobrimirka

Budka had been appointed Bishop for a new Canadian diocese in the preceding year, and arrived in Canada to take up his Winnipeg based post based in December 1912. His first activity was a country-wide visitation of Ruthenian Catholic parishes, ending in March 1913. He immediately went to work on the administrative organization of his diocese. One of his first actions was to incorporate all Ukrainian Catholic parishes under provincial charters and to establish a Dominion-wide Ruthenian Greek Catholic Episcopal Corporation under federal charter [33, p. 30]. These corporations then became the vehicle for the mandatory registration of parish property, a controversial policy which many parishes refused, and led to their joining other churches Also in 1913 the Catholic Church issued the decree Ea Semper, requiring a celibate clergy, [34] and which further alienated those who wanted married priests like they had had in the old country.

In August of 1913 then, Budka would have instructed the Holy Spirit parish in Hubbard in these decrees. They were policies to which Maksym Wawruch would have objected, for certain. Budka's visit may well have been the critical event which caused at least five families to leave the parish in that same year, and to join the parish of Saint Elias, which was served by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. [4]

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Bishop Toth

Alexis Toth

Alexis Toth, once a Uniate Catholic priest, played a major role in the original growth of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America. He is credited with recruiting 25,000 Greek Catholics to the Orthodox Church. Here is one description of his role:
A significant number of Eastern Catholics joined the Russian Orthodox Church in America in the late 19th century. This in part was the result of the disapproval of the presence of married Greek Catholic priests in their dioceses by some Roman Catholic bishops.

Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, for instance, refused to accept Fr. Alexis Tóth (1854-1909) as pastor of the Ruthenian Catholic parish in Minneapolis because he was a widower. [Ireland directed Toth and other Rusyn priests to return to Europe, and and proposed to incorporate Rusyn immigrants into Roman Catholic parishes.[6]]. As a result, Tóth and his parishioners entered into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1891. He eventually founded 17 Orthodox parishes in the USA for erstwhile Ruthenian Catholics. Tóth would be canonized as a saint by the Orthodox Church in America in 1994.[12]

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Father Alexei Showhaniuk

Father Showhaniuk at the 1938 Sobor
Father Showhaniuk from a photograph of the delegates to the All American Sobor of the Orthodox Church of America, 1938.

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Holy Ascension

Plaque on the Holy Ascension Church

This plaque on the Holy Ascension church was installed at the time the building was restored in 1997. The Orthodox Church of America identifies itself as the successor to the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church of North America which granted the original charter to the church.

A notebook which was among Maksym Wawruch's possessions records the following as the original contributors to a fund for the construction of the Holy Ascension church building:

Notebook - list of contributors to Holy Ascension Building Fund
The following names are listed:
Alexei Showhaniuk
Nikolai Filko
Ivan Krysowaty
Ivan Gedzilewich
Dmetro Fishiuk
Maksym Wawruch
Petro Krushelnisky
Stephan Turchynski
Fedor Filko
Petro Smuk
Stephan Lototsky
Karol Lisiviki
Fedor Chorney
Gregory Wowchuk
Other contributions are merely identified as being "from Fenwood"
The entries in the notebook were apparently made by Father Showhaniuk. On succeeding pages, additional funds are shown as coming from donations by Saint Elias parishioners for Christmas caroling and from church services.

Fred Filko, Maxim and Maria Wawruch 1926
Three of the founders of the Holy Ascension parish in 1926. In the front row, left to right: Fred Filko, Maxim Wawruch, Maria Wawruch. Behind them, neighbors Mrs and Mr. Zadworney.

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Parish Priests and Church Heirarchs

Bishop Joseph Zuk
Bishop Joseph Zuk
Joseph Zuk (1872 - 1934). Born in Galicia. Ordained a Greek Catholic Priest in 1899. Emigrated in 1920 and served as a priest in Toronto, Montreal, and Philadelphia. A popular priest, he traveled in Western Canada in the 1920s with Metropolitan Sheptytski and Bishop Budka of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. It is reasonable to conclude that Ukrainian Catholic priests who subsequently defected to the Bukovinian Orthodox Church in Canada were influenced by Zuk, either in person or by his example.

Bishop Bohdan Shpilka
Bishop Bohdan Shpilka
Bishop Bohdan Shpilka – d. November, 1965 This photo published in 1944 was probably taken several years earlier. Likely around the time of his consecration in 1937.

Bishop Bohdan Shpilka
							Commemoration Card
This card commemorating Bishop Bohdan Shpilka's consecration was found among Maxim Wawruch's papers. Below the two quotations from the scriptures, the card reads:
Bishop Ukrainian Orthodox
Church of America
on the day of episcopal blessing 28 February, 1937 A.D.
Father John Zazulak
Father John Zazulak July 21, 1940
Father Zazulak presiding at the marriage of Walter Wawruck and Adela Gorchynski, July 21, 1940.
Father Peter Tokaruk

Father Peter Tokaruk 1964
Father Peter Tokaruk in 1964. Tokaruk was Alexei Showhaniuk's neighbour in Galicia, and the son-in-law of Nikolai Filko, a founder of the Holy Ascension church.

Group 1997
At the first service following restoration of the Holy Ascension church, 1997. L to R: Adele Wawruck, Sophie Filko, Frances Korchinski (Wawruck], Caroline Zavediuk [Wawruck], Mary Moskal, Steve Moskal, Walter Wawruck

Cemetery Blessing likely 1999
The cemetery blessing at the Holy Ascension has become an annual event, held in August. Father Rod Luciuk is shown, likely in 1999.

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Saint Wolodomyr

A list of those who contributed to the building fund for Saint Wolodomyr church in Hubbard between1939 and 1947. In total about $1,200 were raised:
Peter Byski
John Borisko
Fred Charish
John Fulmes
Fred Filko
Nikolai Filko
A. Genzelewitch
George Greschuck
Mike Hubinski
John Klepak
Steve Kolanko
William Lulchuk
Panko Moskal
Harry Malevich
John Navidzaylo
Tymoftay Naumetz
Steve Ohorodny
Alex Paslowski
Nick Pillipow
Harry Soyko
___ S_____uk [unclear]
Maksym Wawruch
Walter Wawruck
Nickolas Wawruck
Peter Wozny
Nicholas Zavediuk
A list of those attended the inauguaral meetings to plan land acquisition and building construction for the Saint Wolodomyr church in Hubbard, July and August, 1939.
Father Sarmatiuk
J. Hubinski
F. Charish
J. Fulmes
H. Soyko
S. Ohorodny
J. Klepak
M. Musij
M. Machiuk
S. Kolanko
P. Moskal
M. Wawruch
P. Wozny
A. Mandziak
Bohdan's signature
Archbishop Bohdan autographed both the minute book and the account book of the Saint Wolodomyr parish on the occassion of his visit to Hubbard in August, 1950. No doubt this was at the urging of Maksym Wawruch who was determined that the church, when it was built, would be clearly affiliated with the UkraInian Orthodox Church of North America

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Saint Nicholas

A list of those who contributed to the building fund for Saint Nicholas church in Hubbard from 1952 onwards:
Peter Byski
John Borisko
Fred Charish
Mike Dutchyshyun
John Fulmas
Jack Chanis
Ivan Haika
___ Kence
N. Kowalyk
John Klepak
Steve Kolanko
George Liskewich
Joe Melnyk
Tymoftay Naumetz
Steve Ohorodny
Alex Pilat
George Poloyko
Nick Pillipow
John Stecyk
____ Waltz
Walter Wawruck
Nickolas Wawruck
Nicholas Zavediuk
Saint Nicholas Church in Hubbard
Saint Nicholas in Winter
Saint Nicholas church in Hubbard. This photo was likely taken in the early 1990s.

The Saint Nicholas parishioners 1950s
The Saint Nicholas parishioners following a church service in Hubbard. The priest in the photo is Father Prystupa. The date was in the period 1954 to 1957, most likely 1956.

This is a list of the families in the Saint Nicholas parish over the years 1954 to 1970.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Charish
Mr. and Mrs. John Fulmes
Mr. Peter Ohorodny
Mr. and Mrs. John. Klepak
Mr. and Mrs. George Leskewitch
Mr. and Mrs. Steve Kolanko
Ms. Lahna Naumetz
Mr. Paul Filko
Mr. and Mrs.Mike Kolanko
Mr. and Mrs. Boychuk
Mr. and Mrs. Mike Dutchyshen
Mr. Jack Chanas
Mr. and Mrs.Timoftay Naumetz
Mr. Alex Pilat
Mrs. Waltz
Mr. and Mrs. Nick Pillipow
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wawruck
Mr. and Mrs. Nickolas Wawruck
Mr and Mrs.Terry Wawruck
Mrs. Schalme
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Dumanski
Mr. John Kozy
Ms.Mary Tumeniuk

Demolition by Fire
Demolition of St. Nicholas by Fire, February 23, 2010

[Homestead] [Byzantine Cross] [Budka] [Toth] [Showhaniuk]
[Holy Ascension] [Priests] [Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Introduction: A Story of Five Church Buildings

This is the history of Ukrainian Orthodox churches at Hubbard Saskatchewan. There are five church buildings in this history, and their stories are intertwined.

Holy Spirit, or the Musyj church
Saint Elais, or the Pilipow church
Holy Ascension
Saint Wolodomyr
Saint Nicholas

A common thread among the five churches is my grandfather, Maksym Wawruch. The first and third of the churches were built with his support and participation. The second, he attended as a parishioner. A fourth was planned by him but was never built, and the fifth was built in spite of his objections, and then only after his death in 1952.

Much of this history is based on the personal recollections of my father, Walter Wawruck, who died in 2008. Some records and correspondence were available, but it was my Father's memory and his explanations which made sense of the contents of those documents.

Maksym Wawruch was born in 1870 in Koshlyakeh, Ternopil Oblast, province of Galicia, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Ukraine. With his wife Maria, born in the same village in 1872, he emigrated to Canada in 1899. With them they brought their daughter Rosalia, born in 1894. They first lived in Brandon, Manitoba. In 1905, they took a homestead on SE-20-25-10-W2, north of the planned right of way for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, which would be built within three years. The Village of Hubbard would be founded in 1910, on the rail line four miles south of this homestead.

Their neighbors in the area where they homesteaded included other families from the vicinity of Zbarazh, in the Ternopil Oblast (1, p. 340). Other families from the village of Koshlyakeh took near by homesteads.

In Galicia , and upon their arrival in Canada these pioneers identified themselves as ethnic Rusyns (Ruthenians) and their religion as Ruskeh. Their church services were conducted in Church Slavonic (Staroslavyanskeh), Their religious affiliation was with the Uniate (Eastern Rite Catholic or Greek Catholic) church, which was the only church of the Rusyn people in Austro-Hungary. [2, p.1]. My grandfather's prayer book, "for Catholic Rusyns", dated 1900 and printed in the old country, was published by the Uniate Church. He described only two churches in the district where he grew up: the Ruska Tserkva (Uniate) and the Remska Tserkva (Roman Catholic). The latter was the church of ethnic Poles living in the same area. My Grandmother, although she was not Polish, always considered herself to be Roman Catholic and my grandparents in fact were married in the Roman Catholic Kostchol in Koshlyakeh.
[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Religious Affiliations in the Old Country

The historical church of the people of the Kievan Rus, the common ethnic forebears of modern Ukrainians, Russians, and Rusyns, was the Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. At various times since the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Prince Volodomyr in 988, the seat of the patriarchal authority for Orthodox Ukrainians had been the subject of political, ethnic, and religious struggles (22, 24).

At the outset, The Kyivan Church was larger than all other Orthodox patriarchates combined, and operated as a "de-facto" autocephalous church, without interference from anyone. It elected its own Metropolitan without the consent of Constantinople or any other Patriarch. Although the church in Kiev survived the Mongol destruction of the city in 1240, its Metropolitans soon began to reside in the new principality of Moscow. This situation continued until 1448, when Kiev, then under Polish-Lithuanian domination, was established as a distinct metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. Soon thereafter, in 1461, the bishops of Moscow ceased using the title of Kiev and began to style themselves as Metropolitans of Moscow. In 1589, there was tacit recognition of Moscow's autocelaphy by Constantinople.

Seven years later, in 1596, the Kievan Patriarchy was further weakened by the Treaty of Brest, which led to the creation of the Uniate Church

A description of the origin of the Uniate Church is given in a history of Carpatho-Rusyn peoples ( the inhabitants of what is now the Trans-Carpathian region of Ukraine and adjacent settlements in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania).

"The Orthodox Church in Hungary was also caught up in the political rivalry between Catholic Austria and Protestant Transylvania. The church's fate was closely tied to developments in Poland, where that country's Catholic rulers were becoming increasingly alarmed at the rapid spread of Protestantism within their realm. Faced with such political and religious rivalries, several Orthodox priests and a few bishops, first in Poland and then in Hungary, decided to accept the Unia/Church Union with the Catholic Church and thereby to recognize the authority of the pope in Rome. This was confirmed by agreements reached at the Union of Brest (1596) and the Union of Uzhorod (1646), after which the Uniate church came into being. Over the course of the next century the Orthodox Church was banned and all Carpatho-Rusyns became officially Uniate or, as they came to be known after the 1770s, Greek Catholic. Unlike the Orthodox, the Uniate/Greek Catholics were recognized as a Habsburg state church" [23].

Austrian Habsburg authorities financially supported the Greek Catholic Church. By the late eighteenth century the church had established elementary schools and theological seminaries in which the Rusyn and Church Slavonic languages were taught. Maksym Wawruch received a public school and religious education which provided him an ability to read and write in Rusyn and Polish, and an acquaintance with the Greek alphabet which appears on icons and liturgical documents. He became familiar with the church slavonic rites and learned to serve as a cantor. It is reasonable to conclude that in the 1870s and 1880s he would have studied in the state sanctioned school system of the Uniate Church.

In the Habsburg province of Bukovina, some Rusyns belonged to the Romanian autocephalous branch of the Greek Orthodox Church, particularly in the eastern areas which were dominated by an aggressive minority of Rumanians. Those in the more westerly part that had fallen under Polish rule were Greek Catholics (Uniate). [11; 2, p.1.] Bukovenian immigrants on the Canadian Prairies, according to my Father, were perceived as tverdye or steadfast adherents to the Orthodox religion. [30].

Following the Treaty of Brest, the metropolitanate of Moscow continued to gather strength and eventually gained control of Kiev. The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Kiev was consequently transferred from the jurisdiction of Constantinople to that of Moscow in 1686. This effectively granted religious authority to Moscow over the Russian controlled, eastern portion of Ukraine and so it would remain for more than 200 years The Orthodox in Ukraine remained part of the Russian Orthodox Church until Ukraine declared its independence in the chaotic situation following World War I and the Russian revolution. The government of this new republic passed a law allowing for the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 1919.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Immigrants in Western Canada: Spiritual Needs but No Clergymen

Immigrants from Ukraine began to settle in Canada in the latter part of 1896. Their numbers reaching 4,000 in 1897, and over 20,000 by 1907. By 1914, the population had reached between 170,000 and 250,000. [1, p.2]. Although they were coming into Canada in ever-increasing numbers, no clergymen were among them. Trosky gives this account of the situation in Western Canada:

"The immigrants, through letters written to the Old Country, asked for priests to come to Canada to give them religious guidance. In 1901, Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky, in his pastoral letter promised to supply the Greek Catholics with priests. The Greek Orthodox Church in Bukovina did not respond because North America was under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church and to have supplied priests would have been contrary to Orthodox policy. In 1902, a few priests and nuns were sent to Canada by the Greek Catholic Church in Western Ukraine.

When the settlers required a priest ... they turned to a Church that had some similarity to the worship they had observed in the Old Country. The Greek Catholics turned to Roman Catholic priests who were either French or Polish; the Greek Orthodox turned to the Russian Orthodox clergy, while the remainder turned to Protestant ministers. Situations like these gave various denominations the opportunity to do missionary work."[2, p.3]

And indeed, it will be seen in the story below that there was fierce competition, accompanied by conflict, as the missionary branches of the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches recruited among the Rusyn pioneers in the Hubbard area.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

The Musyj Church : Church of the Holy Spirit

The Ituna-Hubbard Area History [1, p.307] gives this account, of the first church founded by Maksym Wawruch and other pioneers from Koshlayakeh:
"Other immigrants from the rayon of Zbarazh arrived in the area of the Wawruch homestead in 1908, and they constructed a small church and established a cemetery on the Musyj homestead. The Church of the Holy Spirit was situated in SW-22-25-10-W2, three-and-one–half miles North and one mile east of Hubbard. The three acre site was donated by Mychaylo Musyj."

"Founders of the church were listed as Mychaylo Hnylicia, Nykola Harasym, Mychaylo Musyj, Dmytro Ambroz, Nycolay Hnylicia, Andrew Zadorozny, Nikolai Filko, Maksym Wawruck, Ivan Krysowaty [who is also listed as a Cantor], Ivan Gendzelewich, Stefan Turchinski, Ivan Kowalchuk, Mychaylo Winnisky, Ivan Zadorozny."

The church was built as a Uniate, or Greek Catholic church, with a three-armed Byzantine cross on the steeple. My father recalls the story that when some of the parishioners split away to join with an Orthodox parish, one eager man offered to climb the steeple and to cut off the two surplus arms. This would leave no doubt that the Musyj church was clearly Greek Catholic. Someone in the group, so the story goes, cautioned against the action, saying that God would respond by cutting off the arms of the heretic, who immediately backed off.

The Ituna-Hubbard Area History, gives this report of the first service in the year after construction:

"...on April 12, 1911, Father Noel Marie Descamps, CSSR. [ a Redemptorist], celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Spirit. Subsequently, on August 16, 1913, the Church was blessed by Bishop Nykyta Budka. [1, p.307]
The first priests to serve the Uniate immigrants in the Hubbard area were the Redemptorist fathers, based in Yorkton some 40 miles away. The Redemptorists were Belgian and French missionaries who traveled to Galicia to learn the language and the Eastern rite before coming to Western Canada. There being no Greek Catholic hierarchy in Canada in the late 1890s, the Roman Catholic Church assumed jurisdiction over the Greek Catholics. The few Greek Catholic priests who did come to Canada, were subject to the authority of Roman Catholic Bishops. In September 1912 the Pope appointed Nykyta Budka, a Galician, as Bishop for the Greek Catholics in Canada.

Initially when the Musyj parish was formed and the church was built, according to the story told to my father by Maksym Wawruch, the parishioners were encouraged by Catholic priests to become affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. They were given the promise that they could continue their traditional rites and practices. These practices included the exclusive use of Slavonic in the services and the right to marry for priests.

However, it was not long before it appeared, to some at least, that the promise would be broken. These parishioners perceived the threat of a continuing erosion of their tradition in favour of Roman Catholicism, and believed that their rites, language, and practices would be lost. And they certainly were not alone in this view. We can get a sense of the context of the times and the strength of feelings about these matters from reports in the Ukraynski Holos [Ukrainian Voice]. Maksym Wawruch was a devoted reader of the Ukrainian Voice, a Ukrainian language paper first published in 1910. Although he disagreed with many of the views expressed, he studied and commented upon them all.

"The editor of the Ukrainian Voice [wrote] critical articles on the subject of non-Ukrainian clergymen serving Ukrainian congregations. The paper criticized French Bishops and the acquisition of Greek Catholic property by the Roman Catholic Church

Ukrainian Voice began to criticize Bishop Budka in May 1913 when there was no indication that the French and Belgian priests serving the Ukrainian settlements would be replaced by Ukrainian priests. [In July, the Editor] wrote that the situation in the Greek Catholic Church was very bad for, although the Church had a Greek Catholic Bishop, the Roman Catholic Priests were supreme. For Ukrainians this was an intolerable situation. [The Editor] Kudryk wrote:" Therefore, it is best altogether to stop incorporating churches until the matter becomes completely clarified".

In August 1913, the Ukrainian Voice began to include articles urging the people to protest against the decree of the Congregation of Propaganda Ea Semper, dated August 11, 1913, permitting only celibate priests to have jurisdiction in North America. The paper was making celibacy an issue because in Ukraine the people were served by married clergymen in both the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches, and to them this was as important as having Ukrainian priests".[2, p.9]

The fears of losing the Rusyn identity of the Holy Spirit church came to a head when some of the Musyj parish decided to "sign over" that church to Papal authority. The history of the event is described this way from the Catholic point of view:
"Many Ukrainian Catholic communities throughout the prairie provinces lost possession of churches or halls, when the signators defected to the Ukrainian Independent Church. As a safeguard, people of the Holy Spirit Church in Hubbard had, in addition to the three signators: Andre Zadorozny, John Kowalchuk, Michael Musyj, the signatures of Father Achille Delaere and Mons. Adelard Langevin, Archbishop of St. Boniface." [1, p.307]
According to the record of Western Land Grants (1870-1930), the title for the Musyj Church site in fact is not in the name of the trustees of the church, but rather it is in the name of The Ruthenian Catholic Mission Order of St. Basil the Great in Canada . This was the corporation established by Bishop Budka as the vehicle for the mandatory registration of parish property. [33. p.30]

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Saint Elias: A Temporary Parish for the Hubbard Orthodox

Between 1913 and 1918 the Wawruch, Filko, Gendzilewich., and Krysowaty families left the Holy Spirit and became members of the parish of Saint Elias, which was served by Rusyn priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. [4]. Saint Elias is a rural church situated west of Goodeve, Sask. It was often referred to as the Pilipow Church. It was built on the SE 30-24-9-2 in the R.M. of Stanley No.215. By road this was a distance of at least ten miles from the Wawruch and Filko farms.

Building of the Saint Elias church initially began in 1905 and was completed in 1908. The original affiliation was with the Rusyn Orthodox Independent Church, known as the Independent Greek Church in English. This church was financed by the Presbyterian Church but was to be governed by an independent consistory of its own clergy and bishop, and had to adopt certain Protestant teachings. Local churches were parish owned. However, when the synod of the Presbyterian church began to insist on direct authority over the Rusyn priests and went to court to get possession of a church building, people began to abandon the Independent Greek Church. In 1912, the Presbyterian church shut down its Rusyn subsidiary. [2, p.7]

From the Ituna - Wadena Parish District web site, we have this history of St. Elias:

The first priests to serve St. Elias parish were Rev. Zaitseff and Rev. Cherniawski from the Presbyterian mission. In 1913, after the death of Rev. Cherniawski the church was closed until priests from the Russian Orthodox Church arrived. Two of the first priests to serve the parish were Rev. Dutka followed by Rev. Showheniuk who served the parish to 1918 when the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada was formed, and the Saint Elias parishioners switched their allegiance to the Ukrainian Church [4].

A more complete history of Saint Elias can be found on the Ituna-Wadena Parish District web pages [4] and in the Ituna-Hubbard Area History. [1, p341]

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Father Showhaniuk of The Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church in North America was originally established in 1794 in Russia's colony of Alaska. After Alaska was purchased by the United States (1867), the church was based in San Francisco, California. In 1891, the Rusyn Greek Catholic parish of Minneapolis, Minnesota, led by Father Alexis Toth, "returned to Orthodoxy" and placed itself under the Russian Orthodox bishop of San Francisco. By 1909, Toth had convinced about 25,000 Greek Catholics (mostly Lemko immigrants from Galicia) to join the Orthodox Church. The number of new Orthodox parishes among Carpatho-Rusyns in the northeastern United States increased to such an extent that it was renamed (1900) the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America and its episcopal seat was transferred to New York City. [6, 23]

The mistaken translation of the ethnonym Rusyn into the English word Russian created enormous confusion in those pioneer days in North America; a confusion which persists to the present. The English language term Ruthenian, a latinized version of the word Rusyn, would have been more accurate. The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America is also called the Russo-Greek Catholic Orthodox Church.

It is fair to conclude that the vast majority of the original parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church were former Uniate Rusyns; only a small fraction of them would have been ethnic Russians. One source describes this church as the precursor to an "Independent Ukrainian Church under Russian Mission"[35]

Rusyn speaking Alexie Showhaniuk, an immigrant from Galicia born in 1883, was an activist missionary. We do know that he was an Orthodox priest in the old Country, and in Canada, in 1917, his affiliation was clearly with the U.S. based church of Alexis Toth. From his base in Goodeve Saskatchewan, on the newly completed Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Showhaniuk served outlying parishes at Birmingham, Fenwood, and Foam Lake. This was likely his first posting in Canada. Hubbard was on the road between Goodeve and Foam Lake, and disaffected Greek Catholics from the Holy Spirit would have been a natural object for his missionary work.

Trosky [2, p.5] lists these among the factors that the Russian Orthodox Church had in its favour as it recruited from the Uniate, Independent Greek, and Greek Orthodox pioneers:

  • the incorporation of parishes was not required under a charter of the church, and this appealed to the pioneers
  • The Russian Church observed the same rituals and form of Mass as was observed in the old country, and this made the settlers feel comfortable and at ease
  • The church in North America was subsidized by the Holy Synod in St. Petersburg, and this appealed to the pioneers who had little means of their own. The priests charged very small fees, or none at all, since they did not depend on the settlers for their livelihood
  • Some of the peasants were drawn to the Russian Church because they thought 'Rusin' (Ruthenian) and "Russky' (Russian) were one and the same
Trosky, herself an evidently strong Ukrainian nationalist, who tends to indiscriminately substitute 'Ukrainian' for 'Rusyn' or 'Ruthenian' in her own writing, may have underestimated the ethnic self awareness of the peasants. Ethnic Russians correctly would have been referred to as 'Rosseyskeh' or 'Moskaleh' not 'Russky'.

The history of the St. Elias parish [4] reports that from 1917 to 1919 Father Showhaniuk organized a church choir consisting of some young children of the parish.The choir with Rev Showhaniuk, his horse and sleigh driven by Nick Oryschak, travelled to Fenwood, Birmingham, and to Foam Lake to sing at church services. Showhaniuk's residence was in Goodeve, where he lived in the Oryschuk home.

My father recalls Father Showhaniuk as a strict priest, ordering the children to line-up at the front of the congregation, and to stand still throughout the service. His sermons emphasized the prospect of eternal damnation in Hell, and were so fearful that on one occasion, my father recounts, one of the children wet his pants from fright.

The years around 1918 and 1919 must have been a period of crisis for Father Showhaniuk. The Russian revolution, as discussed below, led to a loss of the link to patriarchal authority, and to a loss of funding, for the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church from which he would have received his salary. At the same time, he was losing parishes to the newly formed Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada (UGOC). These included the Saint Elias Parish, noted above, and a parish in Fenwood. Newly formed Orthodox congregations in Goodeve (1918) and Ituna (1920) affiliated themselves with the UGOC. [4]

In the 1920's Rev. Showhaniuk left the Hubbard-Goodeve area for Regina, where he served as one of the first priests for Saint Michael's church. A monument at the site indicates 1926 as the year that the original church was built in Regina. Showhaniuk left the Hubbard district about this time, since my aunt, Olga Korpus (Wawruck) was married there not by him, but by his successor, Father Zazulak in 1926.

Father Showhaniuk's departure from Regina was surrounded by conflict. St. Michael's parish left the Russian Greek Orthodox Catholic fold, and joined with the U.S. based Bukovinian Orthodox Church in 1930, over Showhaniuk's strenuous objections. Subsequently, Showhaniuk went on to Ottawa, where he was the Archpriest for the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Cathedral.

At the end of his life, Father Showhaniuk returned to Hubbard . He lived with his niece and her husband, the Greschuks, and continued to serve as a visiting priest for a number of parishes in a wide area of eastern Saskatchewan and adjacent areas of Manitoba. Willy Greschuk, of Melville Saskatchewan, recalls his mother's uncle travelling to the communities of Calder, Wroxton, Steenan, McNought, Invermay, and Rama. Showhaniuk died in 1952 and is buried at the Holy Ascension cemetery.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

The Holy Ascension Church

The group of defectors from the Musyj Parish decided to construct a separate Byzantine Rite church building in that same area. In addition to the families which had changed over to the Saint Elias Parish, Wawruchs, Filkos, and Krysowatys, the defectors included the Harasyms, Gendzilewiches, and Turchinskis. They were joined by others who had been Orthodox in the old country. Maksym Wawruch was certainly one of the ringleaders of this group. I recall a history of the Greek Catholic churches in the Hubbard area, apparently written by Mike Szach, in which he described my grandfather as an outspoken agitator who convinced people to leave the Catholic parish. (Veen lyoudyam parrehkazow). Another ringleader would certainly have been Father Showhaniuk, noted above.

The original contributors to the construction fund for the Holy Ascension are listed in the sidebar.

The Ituna-Hubbard Area History [1, p. 340] indicates that there were twenty members when the Holy Assumption parish was organized. This number was probably arrived at by including both the husband and wife of each family in the congregation.

In a few years, personal disagreements arose in the breakaway group, and some, including Harasym and Torchynski returned to the Catholic church. Others, like Gendzilevich, remained ambiguous, and participated in both parishes. Others who settled in the area and subsequently joined the parish included the Navidzielo, Kashuk, and Milnechenko families.

The Holy Ascension church is situated on the NW-NW-21-25-10-W2, four miles north of Hubbard, Saskatchewan. The land on which the church sits was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, under its original land grants from the Government of Canada. Harry Malevich ( ?- 1947) donated a one acre parcel for the church building and a cemetery from the quarter he had obtained through a sales agreement with the CPR.

The land title for the church site is registered in the name of "The Trustees of the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church at Hubbard". The Trustees are listed as John Krysowaty, Nykolai Filko, and Stefan Turczynski.

The date when the title was originally registered is not shown on the current certificate, but likely was 1917.

A plaque now mounted on the church shows 1917 as the year of the founding of the Holy Ascension church. The plaque identifies the church with the Orthodox Church of America, which claims succession to the original Russian Orthodox mission in North America. The founding charter likely would have been granted by the U.S. based, Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church in North America, perhaps through the Administrator of Canadian parishes based at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Winnipeg. (5, pp.12, 13 )

My father recalls the construction of the church building during 1918 as he walked past the site on his way to his first year of school. The project to construct the church was led and supervised by Father Alexei Showhanuik. It is not known if there was a lead builder, but Nicholas and Fred Filko, who did have experience in building, and Maksym Wawruch, were some of the carpenters.

My father has a distinct recollection of a visit by a Bishop to the Holy Ascension church in 1922. It was winter and very cold. The Bishop arrived in Hubbard by train, but the train was late. In the mean time, the church service had started, and was nearly halfway through when Nicholas Filko, who had gone to meet the train, arrived with the Bishop in his horse drawn sleigh. My father remembers the Bishop's long beard and the dinner which was held in the church following the service. Nikolai Filko effectively was the head of the parish at this time. He arranged for priests and services, and he provided transportation and accommodation while the priests were there. Filko's daughter was married to a priest, Father Tokaruk and so he was seen to have a special relationship with the church authorities.

There is no record of which Bishop or Archbishop attended the church in 1922, but it is certain that the visit came at a time of severe crisis for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a time of religious turmoil and aggressive competition for Ukrainian speaking parishioners - and for priests! - on the Canadian prairies. The competition and the race to recruit Ukrainian parishes were among the Catholic, the now splintered Russian Orthodox, and the newly founded Ukrainian Greek Orthodox churches.

The Russian revolution of 1917 and the subsequent rise of communism marked a period of crisis for the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1920, the Soviet government had revealed that it was quite hostile to the Russian Orthodox Church. Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, issued an ukase (decree) that all Orthodox Christians currently under the authority and protection of his Patriarchate seek protection and guidance elsewhere. [15] The Renovationist or Living Church was a schismatic church that broke with the patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church over the latter's opposition to communism in the mid-1920s. Clergy called "Red Priests" or Renovationists led the Living Church, which had the sanction of the Bolshevik government. The Russian Orthodox Church , in contrast to the Living Church, was brutally persecuted. [17]. Tikhon was imprisoned in October 1922 for nine months and stripped of his office. When Tikhon died in 1924, the church was not allowed to elect a new patriarch, and remained split throughout the 1920s and 1930s. [25]

The crisis in Russia had an impact on the Russo-Greek Catholic Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada. The mission here was left without any resources from its mother church. The Canadian diocese continued to struggle with the complete absence of any financial support other than that provided by its local, and often penurious faithful. [21]. My father speaks of collection plates in the Holy Ascension in the 1920s, in the midst of hard times that followed the First World War, that contained only nickels and dimes – not even quarters.

An article in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger described the life of Vladyka Arseny, who was consecrated Bishop of Winnipeg, Auxiliary of the North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, in 1926, after assignments in Europe since 1910. The article says this of the formation of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church:

Bishop Arseny had come back to a very different Orthodox Canada than that he had left 16 years earlier. The so-called "Living Church" had risen since the Revolution and was causing great trouble, as were various Ukrainian nationalist groups. [3, Page 13].
Maksym Wawruch, who had followed the debates regarding Ukrainian Orthodoxy in the Ukrainian Voice, would have agreed with the assessment of Ukrainian nationalist groups as troublemakers. He criticized the Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Ituna which had aligned itself with the new Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, as a group of "Swystuneh". The label came from Wasyl Swystun who was a law student and, in 1916, the first Rector of the P. Mohyla Institute in Saskatoon. Swystun was an ardent advocate for an independent, democratic Ukrainian church. He was an outspoken critic of the ecclesiastical incorporation of Ukrainian Greek Catholic church property and finances by the Roman Catholic Church, and of the designation of the Catholic Bishop as the sole administrator of all religious and church affairs for Ukrainian Greek Catholic parishes.

We have another report of events during this hectic period; this from Odarka Trosky who describes the founding of the autonomous Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church In Canada. A meeting of 150 delegates from across the Prairie provinces in the late summer of 1918 formed a Brotherhood whose mission was to organize a democratic Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church which was independent of any external patriarchal authority. The Brotherhood organized parishes, and by the end of 1919, had an agreement with a Bishop who would serve as the spiritual head, and the new church was ready to start serving the people. [2, pp.17-19] . She describes this situation by 1922:

The first Liturgy to be celebrated in Canada entirely in the Ukrainian language took place in Saskatoon June 18, 1922. with Fr. Sawchuk officiating. This was a great historical event for the new [Ukrainian Greek Orthodox] Church and its faithful. The church leaders were encouraged to work even harder to put the Church on a firm basis. Progress was slow, but the young Church showed definite signs of popularity. The Russian Orthodox church and the Greek Catholic Church were alarmed at the progress made by the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church. Leaders of both churches dubbed the new church as the "Swystunite sect", and its followers as "Swystunites" but the leaders of the new church countered with such means as the "Open Letter to Archbishop Alexander" in which replies were made to the charges of both churches that the new church was dominated by non-religious people. [2, p. 20]
[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Parish Priests and The Change of Affiliation to Constantinople

The Hubbard-Ituna History [1, p.340]provides a list of some the priests of the Holy Ascension parish up to 1945. The list has been supplemented with other names recalled by my father.
Father Alexei Showhaniuk
Father Kucharowski
Father John Zazulak
Father Solohub
Father John P. Mandziuk
Father E. Olendie
Father Schwaluk
Father Peter Tokaruk
The story of Father Alexei Showhaniuk, the founding priest, appears above. From the Goodeve area, he went on to serve as one of the first parish priests for St. Michael's in Regina.

Following Showhaniuk's departure, there was no regular parish priest for the Holy Ascension church. There were itinerant priests who passed through, some appearing only once. One priest who served several times during the 1920's was Father Kucharowski, a farmer in the Parkerview district. My father remembers him making the trip of twenty miles or so by horse and sled in the winter. The priest would travel the day before a service and stay the night at the Wawruch farm.

Father John Zazaluk was originally based in Sheho, approximately 40 miles north of the Holy Ascension church. In 1926 he performed the marriage of Peter Korpus and Olga Wawruck. The marriage certificate was issued under the name of the Russo-Greek Catholic Orthodox Church of North America. By this date, my father reports, Father Showhaniuk was no longer in the district.

By 1933 Father Zazulak was in Winnipeg, serving with the Ukrainian Bukovinian Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Ivan Suchavsky. The diocesan links of the Cathedral were with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America under the jurisdiction of Bishop Dr. Joseph Zuk. [8].

Trosky reports that Zuk's church was an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic church which was recognized by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1931.[2, p.38] Although Zuk had negotiated for an affiliation with Constantinople, he was in fact consecrated by Bishop Aftimios, an ethnic Syrian (14). Beteween 1927 and 1934, Aftimios attempted to establish an autonomous American Orthodox eparchy comprising the parishes of the splintered Russian Orthodox Church together with breakaway Syrian and other ethnic orthodox parishes. Aftemios recruited Zuk as his lieutenant in this failed venture under the name American Orthodox Catholic Church. The intention was that Zuk would have a specific mission to lead the Ukrainian orthodox. Although Aftimios thought that he had the explicit approval of the Russian Orthodox Bishops in North America, there was, in the event, no support for this initiative (6, 32).

It was undoubtedly the promise of a canonical connection to the Greek Ecumenical Diocese that impelled priests of the former Russian Orthodox sub-diocese in Western Canada to change their affiliation to a U.S. based Ukrainian orthodox church in 1930 and 1931. It would have been this hope that held the new organization together following Zuk's death in 1934, until Bishop Bohdan was consecrated in 1937.

Here is one account of the formation of Zuk's church, which fails to mention either the Russian Orthodox or Syrian connections:

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America was formed as a result of the concerns of some Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the 1920s over the ownership of parish property and the Vatican's imposition of clerical celibacy among Eastern Catholic clergy in North America. These Ukrainian Catholics wanted to become Orthodox. On April 9, 1929, a meeting of 15 clergy and 24 laymen took place at St Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They decided in principle to form a distinct Ukrainian Orthodox diocese. A second meeting took place in New York in July 1931, where the group nominated Fr. Joseph Zuk as its bishop. He was ordained as the first head of the new diocese in September 1932, but died soon thereafter, in 1934. In 1937 the diocese was received into the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople when Zuk's successor, Fr. Bohdan Shpylka, was ordained a bishop in New York City by Archbishop Athenagoras of America, the future Ecumenical Patriarch.'[12]
A memorial card from Bishop Bohdan among Maxim Wawruch's papers commemorates the ordination and is dated February 28, 1937.

The parishioners of the Holy Ascension church followed their priests into the jurisdiction of Constantinople. By 1940 Father Zazulak was Archdeacon of the Canadian Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America in Winnipeg. At least some of the parishes of this church in Canada referred to themselves as Bukovinian Ukrainian Orthodox

Maksym Wawruck and Father Zazulak remained friends, and my grandfather continued to invite him to conduct services at Holy Ascension even after Zazulak was posted to Winnipeg, and even after other priests were assigned responsibility for the parish.

A letter from the New York headquarters in February 1940 advised that Father Olendie, based in Sheho would be the priest for Hubbard. Olendie had a number of subsequent postings in the prairies. My father remembers that he retired to Dauphin Manitoba where he died.

My grandfather brought Father Zazulak out to Saskatchewan in July, 1940 to marry my parents. My mother's family were Ukrainian Greek Orthodox, what Maksym Wawruch would call "Swystunites", and he insisted on bringing his own priest for the marriage ceremony. From Hubbard, my grandparents, my father, and Father Zazaluk traveled to Hamton Saskatchewan, the home of my mother's parents, the Gorchynskis, where the ceremony was held.

In a 1943 letter to Maksym Wawruch, Zazulak outlined his plan to conduct services in Hubbard for the holiday of St. Demetrius in November. But he also advised that the Hubbard parish would subsequently be served by a priest based in Calder Sask. and Father Antonio Radchuk was named to that role. However, Radchuk never made an appearance.

Probably overlapping with Zazulak's term as parish priest, was Father Solohub. My father recalls that he served at the Holy Ascension a number of times in the 1930s, and usually stayed with the Nikolai Filko family when he was there. Father Soluhub was eventually posted to Thunder Bay Ontario and served as the Administrator for Canada of the Bukovinian Orthodox Church. He died in 1971 and apparently is buried in Thunder Bay.

The next priest was Father John P. Mandziuk. based in Calder. Father Mandziuk (1889 - 1975) came to Canada in 1914 from Galicia . He was born in the village of Horodok, near Zalischyky. In November 1944 he wrote to Steve Kolanko, who farmed south of Hubbard, about travelling to Hubbard to conduct services. An April 1945 letter from Mandziuk describes his plans to conduct an Easter service at the Holy Ascension on the third of May, and asks Kolanko to advise the parishioners that there will be a blessing of the Paskas.

Mandziuk is listed as the parish priest for St. Michael's in Regina in the late 1940's. By 1957 or 1958 he had retired to a rural home south of Verigin Saskatchewan, periodically conducting services at both Bukovinian and OCA churches. He died in 1975.

The Nikolai and Fred Filko families were the leaders of the congregation in the 1920's, a role which Maksym Wawruck assumed through the 1930's and the 1940s. The parish, which was small to begin with, shrank through the years. By 1947, Nikolai Filko and Maksym Wawruch were the only surviving members of the original founders. Maksym Wawruch had been living in Hubbard since 1937, but still ensured that there was at least an annual Easter service at the Holy Ascension until his death in January, 1952. My Father remembers the last service at the Holy Ascension attended by Maksym Wawruch as being in late spring or early summer, certainly before harvest, in 1951.

From 1952 onwards services at the church were sporadic. My father speaks of an occasion , likely in the 1950s, when Father Olynyk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of U.S.A. was visiting with the Pillipow family in Hubbard. In the absence of another venue, Father Olynyk conducted his obligatory Sunday mass at the Holy Ascension.

There were regular services at the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Ituna, and there was a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Hubbard from 1954. The rural population declined dramatically during the 1960's. And so the Holy Ascension church was essentially abandoned and fell into neglect. The cemetery however remained in use and has been maintained. See the cemetery listing.

Father Peter Tokaruk, married to Rose Filko, Nikolai's daughter, was based in the Mazepa district, north of Yorkton, and after that, in Yorkton itself. Father Tokaruk was a neighbor to Father Showhaniuk in Galicia, and it was Showhaniuk who introduced him to the Filkos. Showhaniuk likely played matchmaker for the marriage. When she died in 1962, Rose Tokaruk was buried at the Holy Ascension Cemetery, close by her parents Nikolai and Nastia Filko. Father Peter Tokaruk subsequently conducted annual memorial services at Holy Ascension until his own death in 1967. My father did not recall that Father Tokaruk ever conducted a service at the Holy Ascension church before this time.

Unlike some of the other priests who joined the Bukovenian Orthodox church under Archbishop Shpilka in the 1930's, both Tokaruk and Showhaniuk remained with the Russian Orthodox church which ultimately became the Orthodox Church in America. Both are buried at the Holy Ascension cemetery.

In the late 1990s, Brad Tokaruk, Father Tokaruk's grandson, and his family repaired and painted the deteriorating church building. In 1997 the first liturgy since the restoration was served with Bishop Seraphim of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

The Tokaruk family has taken the lead in arranging for an annual service at the church and in notifying relatives of those who are buried there. The services have been conducted in August of each year by Father Rod Luciuk of Yorkton. Father Luciuk has been given the responsibility for the church by the OCA, which claims succession to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Saint Wolodomyr Church - Hubbard

A number of families living in and around the Village of Hubbard wished to have a Ukrainian Orthodox church in town. Among them were railway workers, a grain buyer, merchants, hoteliers, and retired farmers. However from the time the Village was founded in 1905 until 1953 there was no church building. The Orthodox congregation attended services at country churches like the Holy Ascension or traveled to neighboring towns. For a period approximately between 1937 and 1952, services were held in the United Church building or the Lutheran church in Hubbard. A nominal leader of this congregation was Steve Kolanko, a farmer living south of Hubbard. Kolanko corresponded with Father Mandziuk to arrange the dates for services.

When Maksym Wawruck retired from farming and moved to Hubbard in 1937, he was one of those who took the lead in organizing and raising funds for the construction of an Orthodox church in town. A minute book kept by the parish tracked the planning for the church which was never built.

An inaugural meeting of Orthodox parishioners was held in Hubbard on July 30, 1939, the occasion of a first service in the village by Reverend Sarmatiuk. A plot of land for a church building was available for purchase. The Holy Day of St. Vladimir the Great fell two days earlier, on July 28, and this may have inspired the choice of name for the prospective church. A second meeting to discuss the details was scheduled for the next Sunday, and on August 6, 1939, the decision was made to raise funds and to proceed with the purchase. The attendees at the initial meetings, as reported in the minutes, are listed in the side bar.

The transfer of the parcel of land for the church from Nicholas Schalme was issued on October 10, 1939. The parishioners wrote to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of North America headquarters in New York, Bishop Shpilka's Church, to advise that they had the land and were planning to build. A reply dated February 9, 1940 was addressed to Soyko, Wawruch, and Klepak. They were advised that their parish priest would be Father Olendie from Sheho, and that they would be under the jurisdiction of the Canadian consistory in Winnipeg, where Father Zazulak was the Archpriest.

With the onset of the Second World War, progress was slow. Further meetings were sporadic according to the minutes. In December 1943 it was decided to continue fund raising. There is a record of a bond in the name of the Church of St. Wlodemer [sic], issued in November 1944. In June 1944, three new parishioners were welcomed: George Greshchuk, Nickolas Pillipow, and my father, Walter Wawruck who moved to Hubbard from the homestead farm the following year. A building committee was appointed, and my father was named to the committee. The next meeting was not till December 1947. Fund raising was again discussed, and my father's motion that each family contribute $100 to the building fund was passed.

The people who contributed funds to the construction of the Church of St. Wolodomer, between 1937 and 1947, according to records left by Maksym Wawruch, are listed in the sidebar.

During the war years, church services were held two or three times a year, either at the Holy Ascension church north of town, or at a rented United or Lutheran church in Hubbard. In an April 1945 letter, for example, Father Mandziuk, based in Calder, informs Steve Kolanko that he will drive directly to the church North of the highway (Holy Ascension) for the Great Thursday service on May 3, and asks Kolanko to advise the parishioners that the Easter paskas will be blessed at that time.

By the late 1940s, it was clear that the majority of Canadian Orthodox Ukrainians had chosen to belong to the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada. Members of the UOCA (Shpilka's Church), called the Bukovenian Church in Canada, were definitely in the minority. In the Hubbard district, the adjoining parishes in Ituna, Goodeve, Fenwood, and Melville were all Ukrainian Greek Orthodox. Few UOCA priests were available in the area, and had to travel from first Sheho, then Calder, Regina, or even Winnipeg in order to serve the small parish in Hubbard.

It appears from the minutes that in May, 1949, nine years after acquiring the plot of land, the lack of progress in building a church had become a crisis. A meeting called for May 28 was attended by fourteen parish families. The previously agreed contribution of $100 per family, and a contribution of labour to the construction, were again discussed. The donations of money had not been forthcoming. At the meeting, the minutes record a suggestion that perhaps the Hubbard church should be affiliated with the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada, rather than the UOCA, but the suggestion was rejected. The meeting concluded with a resolve to continue raising funds and to plan for construction, but in the event, there was no subsequent progress.

According to my father, the majority of the parishioners did want to have a church affiliated with the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, but knowing of Maksym Wawruch's staunch objection to the Swystunites, they would not speak out against my grandfather. At the same time they were not enthusiastic about a continuing affiliation with the UOCA, and hence reluctant to proceed with the construction. My father recalls discussing the situation with my grandfather. He asked why my grandfather wanted to stand in the way of the apparent wishes of the parish. My grandfather replied that they should do as they wanted.

My grandfather's attachment to the UOCA remained strong to the end. In August 1950, the head of the UOCA, Archbishop Bohdan Shpilka, visited my grandfather in Hubbard, and my grandfather pressed my father make sure that my father visited with the Archbishop. While he was in Hubbard, Shpilka autographed the minute book for the building project, as well the account book which recorded the donations to the building fund. Roughly $1,200 dollars had been raised.

And this is how matters stood to the time of my grandfather's death in January, 1952. The next meetings of the Hubbard parish families were held in March and April of 1952. One of the first items of business was to reincorporate the parish as part of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, and to authorize the transfer of the land title to the new organization. The motions carried unanimously. A formal resolution authorizing the transfer was prepared in August, 1952. The transfer was completed in January 1953.

So ended the thirteen year history of the church of Saint Wolodomyr in Hubbard; the church that was never built.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

Saint Nicholas Church - Hubbard

Quickly following the wind-up of Saint Wolodomyr in 1952, and the subsequent transfer of the title of the intended church site to the reincorporated Ukrainian Greek Orthodox parish in 1953, my father, Walter Wawruck, led the initiative to resume the construction of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Hubbard. The name of the church would now be Saint Nicholas. The parish families renewed their pledges to each contribute $100 to the building fund, and to contribute labour to the construction. My father offered to supply the building materials from his lumber yard at wholesale price. Those who contributed to the Saint Nicholas building fund are listed in the side bar.

The church was constructed during 1953 and 1954, and would be the home for regular services for the next thirteen years. The priests who served in this church were based either in Melville or Ituna. [4, Ituna Parish history] The first service was given by Father Kristanovitch [1, p 345].

A cemetery was established adjacent to existing Lutheran and municipal cemeteries, a mile North of Hubbard. However only three parishioners were ever buried there. Others were buried either at the Holy Ascension cemetery or in Ituna, even after the Hubbard cemetery was established. See the Hubbard cemetery listing.

The Saint Nicholas parish was small. In the sidebar is a listing of the parish families over the years when it was active.

My parents, Walter and Adela Wawruck left Hubbard to live in Regina in 1967, and this was probably near the end of the era of regular services. The account book for the parish lists ten families for 1968, and only eight families in 1969. By this time, many of the remaining parishioners had joined the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox parish in Ituna, which by then was only ten minutes away by highway.

By the early 1980s, St. Nicholas was used only for occasional services and special events, such as the blessing of Easter baskets. In the mid-1980s the iconostas, the illuminated altar screen, was relocated to a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Calder Saskatchewan. For more than 20 years St. Nicholas remained unused and fell into disrepair. In the ecclesiastical tradition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a sanctified structure, unless it is used again as part of a church, cannot be salvaged. Early in 2010 Metropolitan John granted permission to demolish and burn the structure, and required the remains to be buried on the site.

On February 23, 2010, the structure was demolished, burned, and buried under the ecclesiastical supervision of Father Peter Wasylenko, who delivered a final blessing. The copula and cross from the peak of the building were salvaged and will form a permanent cairn to commemorate St. Nicholas church.

Photographs of the demolition can be seen by following the [Photos] link.

[Introduction] [Old Country Affiliations] [Clergy for Immigrants] [Holy Spirit]
[Saint Elias] [Father Showhaniuk] [Holy Ascension] [Change to Constantinople]
[Saint Wolodomyr] [Saint Nicholas]

This page was last updated July 5, 2010