Community News

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ukrainian Labour Temple declared national historic site

CBC News

The Ukrainian Labour Temple, once raided by federal authorities during the 1919 Winnipeg general strike, has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Jim Prentice, minister responsible for Parks Canada, made the announcement Wednesday on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

"The designation of the Ukrainian Labour Temple not only recognizes the architectural significance of the building but also the important role it played in the social and cultural activities of Ukrainian Canadians," he said in a written statement.

"This commemoration will help to ensure that this site and its association with pivotal events in Canada's history will be remembered and appreciated by generations to come," added Vic Toews, president of the treasury board and regional minister for the province of Manitoba.

Constructed in 1918-19 in Winnipeg's North End, it is the first and largest Ukrainian Labor Temple in Canada, according to Heritage Winnipeg.
Built primarily by volunteer labour and financed by donations, the temple was a focus for Ukrainian culture and political activism. The Ukrainian Labor News and other Ukrainian language publications were prepared and distributed from there.

As a rallying centre for the trade union movement, it was raided in 1919 by authorities searching for evidence of alleged sedition and conspiracy.

The temple, designated a provincial heritage site in 1995, remains the only surviving labour hall in Winnipeg associated with the turbulent events of the general strike. It also remains the national headquarters for the Workers Benevolent Association, which was established at the temple in 1922.

"I believe that proclaiming the Winnipeg Ukrainian Labour Temple a national historic site also quite rightly pays tribute to the founding members," said Myron Shatulsky, a council member with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians and the chair of the board of directors of the Ukrainian Labour Temple Foundation.

"These socialist-minded Ukrainian immigrants, some of whom had yet to receive their naturalization papers, and facing the possibility of arrest and deportation, sought and established a path along which they could achieve a better life for themselves, their children, their descendants, and for all Canadians.

"It is truly a historic event."

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