Apr 042017
 
St Nicholas Ukrainian Church

Saint Nicholas, a devout religious figure from the early days of Christianity, and to many today, the face of everyone’s most favourite holiday ever, Christmas. Said to be a miracle worker, benevolent, a helper of the poor, advocate of the hopeless, the destitute, the damned, his life’s work was in charitable service to those in need. His penchant for the giving of “secret gifts” is from which the legend of the red-suited always jovial St Nick, or Santa Claus originates.

No matter how you look at him, he was one fine fellow.

He’s lent his name to a lot of houses of worship around the world too, including the one we’ll be documenting in this here post, Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church of Saint Michael. Or simply St Nicholas for short. The location is rural Lamont County Alberta, on the plains east of Edmonton, the land a mix of farms and wooded groves.

St Nicholas: a beautiful Ukrainian Catholic Church in a peaceful rural setting. Researched, Written and Photographed by Chris Doering and Connie Biggart (BIGDoer/Synd)

Many rural churches have been forced to close account of dwindling congregations. This one has bucked the trend and still sees active use.

Scroll down for photos and to comment.

The building seen today dates from 1923 and replaced an earlier, much smaller and simpler church on the same property (circa 1904). The cost for this “new” structure came in at about $11k, most of the labour being provided by volunteers. It’s sits on a good sized plot of land, set back from the nearest road, much of the property rimmed by trees and then further on surrounded by farmer’s fields.

Done in a traditional Byzantine style used by Eastern and Orthodox religions, in a crucifix form (cross- shaped footprint when viewed from the “heavens”); and with iconic “Onion Domes” it’s one of many churches of this style in the general region. While the others are constructed of wood, this one differs with main structure being made of brick. To us and I’m sure many of the people who worship here, this makes it something a wee bit more special. By a smidgen.

Domes are of wood and metal clad and were no doubt very complex to build. There’s three here, and they have significance, representing the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Three domes is common, but other churches like it can have anywhere from one to thirty three (not all numbers used). Each specific count has its own special meaning.

Some of the interior stuff here came from the original church. The layout has the altar facing west, parishioners east, a fairly typical setup. The aliment has many meanings – for example, it’s said Christ will return from the east.

The bell for these style churches is always contained in a separate building. This tower holding them is a bit newer and dates from the 1930s. It’s of wood construction, and contains three bells. Three very loud bells. Our gracious host, the church caretaker, demonstrated their use. It was near deafening – I’m sure they heard it all the way back to Edmonton, maybe even beyond. Our ears are still “ringing” to this very day. Still, what a magic experience it was, even if our it hurt a little bit. Gong, gong, gong…for the love of…make it stop!

The bell tower is also used for storage. Lots of interesting church artifacts inside. The explosives box seemed a bit strange (see photos). In times past, the main lower floor was was also used as a classroom of sorts.

There’s a good sized cemetery on the property, with some two hundred people interned here. The first burial at St Nicholas goes back to the very early 1900s – there might even be a couple unmarked/unrecorded graves from earlier, the late 1890s – the most recent, from not all that long ago. Many common family names are seen and reflect the Eastern European heritage of the area. Many of their descendent still live nearby. The fellow who showed us around, had roots going back many, many generations.

The church is used regularly for Sunday Services and for special events, funerals, weddings (one in the same for some), and the like, and is well kept up and I’d say even well loved. Nice and clean and tidy, and inviting. A new addition is the wheelchair ramp seen. Many of the parishioners are elderly and not terribly mobile. Still, they come. Good on them.

The region around St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church was settled in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Many came here from what is present day Hungary. Ukrainian Catholic Churches and ones similar looking belonging to Russo-Greek congregations, and others of Eastern Orthodox religions, are very common to Lamont County. There’s a pamphlet you can get for a self-guided tour. We’ve seen a couple in the area, but have only scratched the surface. Love them – those domes – and so want to see many more. A good reason to return!

The Saint Michael in the full title of the church is in reference to the nearest town, a few clicks to the northwest.

More photogenic churches…
Zion Lutheran Church.
Spaca Moskalyk Church.
Notre Dame de Savoie Church.

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: November, 2016.
Location: Lamont County, AB.
Article references (and thanks): St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Mr Caretaker who’s name we lost, HistoricPlaces.ca, Robert Pohl.
If you visit the church grounds, please show respect. BIGDoer.com visited with permission.

  • Facebook
    Facebook
    Google+
    Google+
    http://www.bigdoer.com/29090/exploring-history/st-nicholas/
    PINTEREST
    PINTEREST
    RSS
    YOUTUBE

    Social share using the buttons above – we encourage it! If photo sharing, credit “BIGDoer.com”.

    Something to say? Jump to comments!
    Something to say in private? Click here to: Reach Us!

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church of St Michael, Lamont County.

St Nicholas Ukrainian Church

The structure dates from the 1920s and is unique in being made of brick.

St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church

The church, bell tower and cemetery.

St Nicholas Church Lamont County

The church is well kept and used regularly.

Lamont County St Nicholas Church

The view from the front entry.

Saint Nicholas Church

Peaceful comes to mind…

St Nicholas Bell Tower

In the bell tower – stored tools of the trade in…an explosives box?!

St Nicholas Church Bell

One of three (very loud) bells. Our ears are still ringing.

St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic

Storage room stuff.

Old Farm Lamont County

On the road home – this old farm, a brief visit.

We recommend...

Join the discussion...

26 Comments on "St Nicholas"

Subscribe only
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest
Elly Cleland
Guest
Elly Cleland

as always what a wonderful read, and so interesting…..even, the history of good old St Nick…I so enjoyed ,…thanks , you two!!!!

Steve Boyko
Guest

Fantastic photos – I love Ukrainian churches. That’s an impressive bell tower!

Jason Sailer
Guest
Jason Sailer

Very nice!

Barry Ryziuk
Guest
Barry Ryziuk

Great images and composition!

Karen Willis
Guest
Karen Willis

There are a lot of churches in that area. One was declared a national heritage project and moved a few years ago.

Dale Stewart
Guest
Dale Stewart

(via Facebook)
Been here. Did not see the inside. Fantastic sight to see.

Grant McDonald
Guest
Grant McDonald

There is one time of the year where they have all the churches open up to the public you can tour to see most of them in about 5 -6 hours, just about every town in east central Alberta had a onion dome church or versions of.

Eleanor Cleland
Guest
Eleanor Cleland

Beautiful Images!!!!!

Pat Kenna
Guest
Pat Kenna

(via Facebook)
I need to look this one up and see how far it would be to drive there in the summer. Very interesting and pretty.

Drew May
Guest
Drew May

Love them churches!!

Nat Chekerda
Guest
Nat Chekerda

Do they have names on the monuments? How old are the monuments?

Gary Makota
Guest
Gary Makota

Seeing this reminds me of an old family tradition. My Dad would take us on a little tour of Ukrainian churches back in Manitoba every Christmas holiday. Thanks Chris, great pictures!

Jenn
Guest

Great photos as usual, very beautiful church.

wpDiscuz