Description of Historic Place
St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a compact wood-frame structure built in 1902 as an Anglican chapel in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg, moved in 1906 a few blocks west to its present site on a residential street and converted in 1918-19 to an Orthodox church. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and listed exterior and interior elements.
St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a modest, dignified wooden structure in one of Winnipeg's oldest neighbourhoods, serves as an active, continuous link to a period about a century ago when East Europeans flocked into the city on the lure of better lives for themselves and their families. Distinguished on the outside by silver banyas (onion domes) and three-bar crosses and within by rich iconography and handcrafted furnishings, the church is an evocative expression of efforts by the city's first National Greek Orthodox congregation to replicate the established old-country ecclesiastical order in a new urban environment. Through the skills of its artisans, the faith community transformed what began as St. Mark's Mission Chapel, an Anglican outreach project among immigrant populations, into a more familiar and traditional Orthodox house of worship. The facility also reflects its congregation's practicality and economy, standing as it does on an exceptionally high stone foundation extended crosswise at the rear to form a more generous basement hall than provided by the chapel's original footprint. Lovingly maintained over the years, St. Michael's is an enduring embodiment of the values and aspirations of its founding members and their successors.
Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, September 12, 2008
Key elements that define the site character of St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church include:
- the North Point Douglas location in Winnipeg, mid-block on the east side of residential Disraeli Street between the Red River and Sutherland Avenue
- the church's west-facing placement within its double lot, set back among well-kept lawns, flower beds, mature trees and, at the front, a prominent white clover-leaf cross inscribed with blessings
Key exterior elements that define the church as a simple yet dignified Orthodox facility include:
- the narrow, elongated rectangular form, one storey high under a gable roof, expanded by a tall inset and squared front tower, a gabled front porch and a three-sided apse, all of wood-frame construction
- the high, oversized foundation of roughly dressed limestone that extends beyond the building footprint to incorporate raised front and rear basement sections with shed roofs
- the tower's large metal-clad banya and three-bar Orthodox crosses
- the fenestration, including pointed tower, nave and apse windows with simple Gothic tracery, two bull's eye windows of coloured glass (in the porch and rear gable end), tall rectangular basement openings, etc.
- the unpretentious materials and details, including white horizontal lap siding, plain window surrounds, return eaves, the inscribed cornerstone, etc.
Key interior elements that define the church's Orthodox character include:
- the formal three-volume layout, including the east-end sanctuary raised by two broad steps, the unobstructed centre-aisle nave and the west-end narthex with a choir loft above
- the magnificent three-door iconostas, heavily decorated with traditional icon portraits of the saints and separating the nave from the sanctuary's inner altar
- the richly detailed nave and sanctuary, including the arched and dark-stained wood ceiling, side walls embellished with icon portraits, wooden pews in a processional layout, three elaborate chandeliers, etc.
- the modest, practical features, such as the simple wood trim, the steep, narrow loft staircase, etc.