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Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church

Hay Lakes

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Heritage Value

Character-Defining Elements


Street Address:
Community: Hay Lakes
Boundaries: Portion of the southeast quarter of Section 14, Township 48, Range 22, West of the Fourth Meridian
Contributing Resources:

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
1 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.135147 -113.099685 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Registered Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1988/09/28

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)
Historic Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s):

The Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church is part of the rural community of Ellswick that covers portions of four townships located north of Bittern Lake in the Hay Lakes area. Homestead land in this area was occupied during the period of rapid settlement between 1896 and 1915. The people who established farms in the area came from Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from Poland and from Scandinavia.

As was the case in other rural areas in Alberta during the early stages of the settlement process, schools and churches were the most important social institutions. Ellswick School District 2203 was organized in 1909. The cultural diversity of the settlers gave rise to a number of Catholic and Protestant churches. The development of Catholic church institutions began in 1881 with the arrival of Father Bellavaire who operated a mission from his residence in Duhamel. He was followed in 1907 by Father Paul Kulawy who operated a mission from Round Hill. By the time of Kulawy's arrival, the Catholics of the area included not only Polish Roman Catholics but also Ukrainian Catholics from Galicia who were here in sufficient numbers to re-establish their traditional Byzantine rite. Prior to the establishment of a Ukrainian Catholic church in the Hay Lakes District, masses were read in the nearby St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church. Homes of the parishioners were used for services until 1910, when a small church in Ellswick was built for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite Catholic congregations. When the two congregations split up, the homes of Nicholas Maruschak and George Sych Sr. were used for Ukrainian service.

In 1921, the parish finally commenced construction of a Ukrainian Catholic Church on three acres of land donated by Nicholas Maruschak for the church and cemetery. The Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church was to play an important role in the lives of the early settlers of Hay Lakes as the centre of community services. In 1929, Reverend Basil Lakyka, O.S.B.M., who was consecrated Bishop on July 14, 1929, got financial help for the church from the Basilian Fathers. This made it possible to complete the church inside and to have the interior and exterior painted. The Basilian Fathers served the people of the Holy Cross Church from the very beginning until November 10, 1957. From January 7, 1958 to the present, the secular clergy have been attending to the needs of the people that belong to the Holy Cross Church.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0502
Designation File: DES 1320
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 32000
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1320)
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