Description of Historic Place
Ukrainian Labour Temple National Historic Site of Canada is located in a predominantly residential neighbourhood composed of modest homes set in the heart of the North End area of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This sophisticated early twentieth-century building features an imposing temple-like exterior with streamlined neoclassical details including a substantial cornice, limestone banding, plinths, pilasters and oversized keystones. Its rectangular plan and flat roof are interrupted by the fly loft of the main auditorium rising from the rear section of the building. Official recognition refers to the footprint of the building.
Ukrainian Labour Temple was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2008 because:
- as the centre of a socialist movement dedicated to improving the circumstances of Ukrainian workers and farmers, it was the headquarters for several national Ukrainian organizations that provided educational, mutual aid, charitable and other services, while seeking to forward the goals of socialism and organized labour through publications and meetings for left-wing instruction, debate and strategizing;
- it was a base for the expression of Ukrainian cultural traditions and identity from its construction until the end of the 1960s, and for the coordination and support of Ukrainian performing arts throughout Canada, in particular dramatic societies, choral, orchestral and mandolin music, and Ukrainian folk dance;
- designed in the neoclassical style, and including an auditorium seating 1,000, the building is the grandest and largest labour temple constructed by an ethnocultural community in Canada, and physically embodies the ideals of Winnipeg's progressive Ukrainian community; and,
- as a vital gathering place for strikers of Ukrainian descent during the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, it is closely associated with a pivotal event in Canada's history.
The Ukrainian Labour Temple was built with volunteer labour in 1918 by the newly formed Ukrainian Labour Temple Association, as the social, cultural and educational supplement to the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada. The association had no official affiliation with a political party, but was informally associated with the Communist Party of Canada, and its temple housed the presses of several Ukrainian newspapers, periodicals and pamphlets, in addition to printing many titles by well-known Ukrainian authors. In addition, almost immediately after its construction, the temple became immersed in the Winnipeg General Strike, serving as a nightly meeting place where strike leaders discussed the strike’s progress with members of the Ukrainian community. Regardless of their political persuasion, the Ukrainian Labour Temple offered Ukrainians a familiar social environment in which they could find companionship and emotional support in their native language.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June, 2008.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location in the historically multi-ethnic immigrant neighbourhood of Winnipeg’s North End;
- its rectangular, one-storey massing under a flat roof with a rectangular fly loft rising from the rear section;
- its construction in contrasting fawn-coloured brick and limestone;
- the symmetrically arranged openings of the original section, with long, narrow windows, and the well-integrated symmetry of the openings on the 1926 addition;
- its large-scale, streamlined neoclassical details, including a substantial cornice, limestone banding, oversized keystones, plinths and single and double pilasters;
- its neoclassical, recessed main entrance accessed by a short staircase, with limestone entablature, engaged rusticated stone columns, and surmounted by a relief sculpture depicting hands reaching across the globe and the accompanying text, “Workers of the World Unite”;
- its interior plan, including a foyer, main auditorium and 1926 addition;
- the interior decoration of the main auditorium, with beamed ceiling and pilasters, mezzanine, projection box and grand stage, including dressing rooms and mechanical workings in the backstage area;
- interior finishes, furnishings and artefacts associated with the Ukrainian Labour Temple Association.