Churches have always been a favourite here and we search them out like bloodhounds. Be they active and in use or closed up and forgotten, grand in form or humble, city or rural, no matter the religious denomination, they’re on our radar. Today’s target is Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Cemetery, found along a lonely, dusty back road on the rolling plains of Two Hills County Alberta. It’s a modest affair perched atop a rise, giving it nice views of the surrounding countryside.
The church seen today was not the first here. Records are sparse and sketchy (an all too frequent problem), but it appears an earlier church existed on the property from the late 1910s, until 1946 when the current structure was built. What happened to the first is not known although a fire has been suggested. Either way, we’ll keep the research machinery in motion and should be find out more, we’ll post an update here. Of course, we’d love to hear from those in the know.
The structure is fairly plain in design and laid in out in typical county church fashion. It has a small front entryway topped by a steeple and bell tower, with a long rectangular main chapel and a steeply pitched roof. It’s unremarkable in every way, but no less a special than if it were St. Peter’s Basilica. It faces directly west.
It’s said services were regularly held here into the 1980s (ish) – we only found a vague reference to that. I question if it might not have lasted a bit longer – just an unsubstantiated hunch. It may still be used from time to time for things like funerals and special services and the like. It does appear to be kept up.
On the grounds is a good sized cemetery. Records show close to eighty interments here. The earliest graves are from the late 1910s while the most recent are from a couple years back. Many common family names are seen. We noticed few graves belonging to children. These seem to be all too common, sadly, in pioneer cemeteries, but no so much here.
A couple memorials are too worn to read. A fair number of the crosses and head stones are quite ornamental.
Holy Trinity is situated in a locality known as New Kiew. It’s suggested this was a variation on the name Keiv (not sure how v became w)…anyway, that place was a major city in the Ukraine and was the general area where most settlers that laid down roots here came in from. New Kiew was not a town in any sense, but rather a reference point for the general area, an X at a crossroad if you will. There was a post office and school somewhere close by, this church and even another down the road, and a good number of farms spread out in the area. But no real community.
Settlers first arrived here in the early 1900s. The area then would have seen the land here partially wooded and partially open grassland. It would have taken a lot of work to clear. Many of those who farm in the area today are direct descendants of those early homesteaders.
The Catholic (or Roman Catholic) Church in Canada needs little introduction. It’s the largest Christian group within the country with some dozen or so million followers. And it’s long established here, going back hundreds and hundreds of years. While Eastern Orthodox churches (recognized by their distinctive “onion domes”) are more common in places where Ukrainians settled, Roman Catholicism was also practiced in the “old country” and brought over too. As such we see two distinct style of churches in these areas, ones like Holy Trinity, and others like the example down the road, which follow Orthodox styling practices.
The “Holy Trinity” is a reference to God as something more than a singular form, instead comprising three separate persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you know anything about Holy Trinity Catholic Church, we’d love to hear from you. We don’t feel we’ve covered it as well as we’d like and would love to expand on the piece. There’s numerous links to our contact page seen in this post.
This trip found us exploring a vast area east of Edmonton. We documented an amazing number of old farms, historic and industrial sites and of course, churches. Hosting us this day was large format film photographer Rob Pohl (see the links sidebar to get to his site) who took us to some of his favourite haunts and some new ones we arranged together. If you’d like to be our guide for your area, just like he was, send us an email. We love to hang with like-minded adventurers.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: November, 2016.
Location: Two Hills County, AB.
Article references (and thanks): Books: The Ukrainian bloc settlement in East Central Alberta, 1890-1930 a history and Place names of Alberta. Volume III Central Alberta, FindAGrave.com, Robert Pohl.
Please show respect if visiting Holy Trinity.