NATIVITY OF THE HOLY VIRGIN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF KYSYLEW
The Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Kysylew
Nativity of the Holy Virgin (Kysylew)
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew, constructed in 1950, is a large wood-frame church built on a cruciform plan in the Byzantine tradition featuring two large and three smaller onion-shaped domes capped with metal tri-bar Orthodox crosses. It faces west on a 16-hectare site complete with a cemetery, some distance from Range Road 165, north of Highway 645, in Lamont County, Alberta.
The heritage value of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew lies in its historic connection with the early settlement of the area and the 1899 establishment of the Orthodox congregation in the district that took its name from the Village of Kysylew in Bukovyna, today located in Ukraine. When the first log church (1902) was destroyed by fire in 1949, the congregation embarked in 1950 on the construction of the present church, located roughly 30 metres east of the original building.
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew presents a distinctive and impressive silhouette as a highly visible symbol of the continuity of Orthodox religious adherence and devotional expression in the district for over a hundred years. The site also has landmark value for its association with the route of the South Victoria trail, surveyed in 1896, which crossed Egg Creek via a small bridge a short distance north of the present crossing. Although the plan for the trail was cancelled in 1922, the landscape has remained largely unchanged and still includes a trail running east over a wooden bridge leading to the cemetery on the west side of Egg Creek.
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew is architecturally significant as the last and the largest wood-frame church rooted in the Byzantine tradition as it evolved in western Canada that was built in Lamont County. It has an elaborate and sophisticated cruciform plan with a large, open, onion-shaped dome. The church incorporates a distinct narthex surmounted by a domed bell tower. This structure is integral to the design of the church and provides entrance to the building. Twin towers also crowned by onion-shaped domes flank the sides of the narthex. The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew presents a complex roof line comprised of gable and hip elements unified by consistent eave lines creating a harmonious whole design.
The sanctuary is an important example of the later work of well-known and highly skilled church builder John Mnoholitny (1890-1962), who built over 20 churches across Canada. The work of Father John Wasil, who painted most of the icons in the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew, is representative of the continuing post-World War II tradition of religious art in Eastern Rite churches in Alberta. The icon of St. Nicholas is noteworthy for its inscription in Old Church Slavonic and Hungarian.
Source: Lamont County (Research file: The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew)
Character-defining elements of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew that define it as being in the Byzantine tradition include architectural features such as:
- the scale, massing and cruciform plan including the transepts and a large, open, octagonal drum with an onion-shaped dome capped by a cupola terminating in a ball and surmounted by with a metal tri-bar Orthodox cross;
- the sanctuary contained in an apse, flanked by a sacristy on the south side;
- the narthex surmounted by a large onion-shaped domed bell tower complete with blind round windows and louvered openings and capped by a cupola with a metal tri-bar Orthodox cross;
- twin towers with octagonal drums (complete with applique window treatment) with onion-shaped domes terminating in a ball and surmounted by metal tri-bar Orthodox crosses;
- the complex roof line comprised of gable and hip elements with consistent eaves;
- patterns of fenestration including the large arched single-hung windows with segments of patterned pressed glass forming the shape of a cross, and round segmented windows with coloured pressed glass.
- the interior spatial configuration including nave, transepts, and sanctuary separated from the nave by an iconostas, vaulted ceilings in the open dome nave, transepts, and the pendentives of the dome, the choir loft located over the narthex with access through the domed tower on its northwest corner;
- interior finishings including the laminated plywood panelling on the walls and ceilings, the dome and pendentives, original mouldings, door and window wood trim;
- original liturgical items;
- iconic and decorative elements including the wooden tri-partite iconostas with carved panels enclosing icons on the royal door and the iconographic works executed by Father John Wasil.
- the trail running northwest over the wooden bridge;
- the cemetery on the west side of Egg Creek.
Local Governments (AB)
Historical Resources Act
Municipal Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
John Mnoholinity (1890-1962)
Location of Supporting Documentation
Lamont County, Administration Building, 5303 - 50 Avenue, Lamont, AB TOB 2RO (File: The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church of Kysylew)
Cross-Reference to Collection