Description of Historic Place
Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church is located on West Street in the area of Sydney, Cape Breton known as Whitney Pier. This wood-framed, onion-domed topped church is representative of the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Church. The building and property are located in the provincial designation.
The Holy Ghost Church is valued for its architectural style, for the central role the church has played in the development of Nova Scotia's diverse cultural makeup, and for its association with the industrialization of Nova Scotia.
The first Holy Ghost Church was completed through the efforts of industrial Cape Breton's Ukrainian immigrant community, which had been steadily growing since the arrival of the first major wave of Ukrainian immigrants around 1904.
One of the earliest of these immigrants, Nicholas Fedora, along with forty-one of his countrymen formed the Brotherhood of the Holy Ghost which was instituted, in part, to provide a permanent place of worship for the Byzantine Rite. In 1912, the Brotherhood purchased four lots of land in Whitney Pier and began construction of the church. Construstion was mainly through the voluntary efforts of the Ukrainian men who worked around their shifts at the Sydney Steel Plant.
The church was formally opened in November 1913, with its first parish priest, Fr. V. Venyaraski.
Unfortunately, the original church burned in 1933, apparently the result of electrical problems. Through the efforts of the community and the parish priest of that time, a new church was completed in the following year. The new church was approximately the same size as the original and is on the same foundation. Work was supervised by the M.R. Chappell building contracting company.
The Holy Ghost Church is the only Ukrainian Church in Canada east of Montreal.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 30, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS
Character-defining elements of Holy Ghost Church include:
- wood frame construction, cruciform in plan, with a short facade;
- main building that is approximately twenty-six feet to the gable peak, and approximately sixteen feet to the eaves;
- medium gable roof is asphalt shingled with decoratively moulded projecting eaves and verges;
- low gable roof over the porch entrance has a pediment while the main roof has pronounced returned eaves;
- facade corners, above the roof line, are eight-sided towers topped by onion domes;
- a similar, but much larger eight-sided tower and onion dome is located in the centre of the roof;
- crosses on each dome, with an Orthodox cross atop the larger dome;
- smaller domed towers approximately nine feet in height from the roof line up and the central domed tower is approximately twenty feet high from its lowest roof line;
- doorstep and door covered by a semi-circular archway, under which is a semi-circular stained glass window in three fixed panes; above the arch is a stylized Orthodox cross;
- chimney located slightly acentrally at the west end extending from the ground to approximately six feet above the roof peak;
- a small belfry on a separate staging at the northern and western corner of the church; the window openings on the belfry have separated wooden slots.