Description of Historic Place
The Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik), constructed in 1924, is a wood-frame church on a cruciform plan, with a large, tall, central drum and onion-shaped dome in the Byzantine tradition, located on a landscaped site northeast of Mundare in Lamont County, Alberta. The associated two-storey square bell tower with pyramidal roof lines is located immediately north of the church, and the cemetery lies immediately to its south.
The heritage value of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik) lies in the association of its name with Ukrainian settler Harry Maskalyk, who donated land on his homestead for the first church built on the site in 1904. It has significance for its historical roots in the pastoral mission of Father Filas, who served as the first superior of the monastery established in the area by the Order of St. Basil the Great and who also established the cemetery on the site in 1903. The associated bell tower has a significant connection with the Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Mundare who taught catechism in it during the 1940s and 1950s.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik) has architectural value as a representative example of an elaborate cruciform plan church with a central drum and onion-shaped dome, a design that characterizes church architecture in the Byzantine tradition as it evolved in western Canada. It features a distinct narthex flanked by twin towers each with an octagonal drum rising out of a pyramidal roof line flush with the eaves of the nave, and capped by an onion-shaped dome with a metal Latin cross with trefoil ends, matching that of the central dome. Constructed by building contractor Charles Gordon, owner of a lumberyard in Vegreville, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik) is a significant testimony to his skills, which are evident elsewhere in the municipality. The interior is significant for its interior decoration, in particular those elements executed by one of Alberta's most prolific and well-known church painters, Peter Lipinski (1888-1975), including his icon of Saints Vladimir and Olga and the tabernacle painted in 1939. The interior also possesses significance as an illustration of traditional decorative schemes and colours, including gold stars on a blue vaulted ceiling and the stenciled motifs and bands, painted by Nick Lysakowski (spelled variously Lesakowski) and his wife in 1935. The associated wood-frame bell tower built by John Foronski in 1938, is a good representative example of the design and proportions of bell towers found in the municipality, and illustrates their primary use as a belfry and secondary use as a space for teaching catechism.
Source: Lamont County (Research File: Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik))
Character-defining elements of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Spasa (Muskalik) that define the church and associated bell tower as being rooted in the Byzantine tradition include architectural features and decorative detailing such as:
- the cruciform plan, scale and massing, including high-pitched cross gable roof with return eaves;
- the large, central, open octagonal drum with an onion-shaped dome, complete with a cupola and a small dome terminating in a ball surmounted by a metal Latin cross with trefoil ends;
- corner structural elements with partial hipped roof;
- twin apsidal sacristies off the sanctuary;
- the distinct narthex flanked by twin towers with octagonal drums rising out of a pyramidal roof line flush with eaves of the nave and capped by onion domes with metal trefoil crosses;
- galvanized sheet metal cladding on the domes, bevelled wood siding with corner boards;
- the pattern of fenestration on all elevations that includes the large, rectangular, arched windows with segments of patterned pressed glass forming the shape of a cross, and the circular window on the east elevation over the entrance with its segmented fanlight;
- the red brick chimney on the exterior wall of the north transept.
- the spatial configuration of nave, side chapels in transepts, and sanctuary with attached apsidal sacristies, vaulted ceilings in the open dome, nave, transepts, and the pendentives of the dome, elevated panelled pulpit with entrance from south sacristy, choir loft and stair access via the vestibule, interior double panelled doors opening from the vestibule to the narthex;
- the scheme of iconic and decorative elements, including the painted stencil bands and motifs painted by Nick Lysakowski (spelled variously Lesakowski) and his wife, and the portable icons painted by Peter Lipinski, including the icon of Sts. Vladimir and Olga;
- interior finishes including V-joint tongue-and-groove over vertical tongue-and-groove wainscoting, V-joint fir flooring, door and window wood trim, decorative mouldings and chair rails;
- all original liturgical items, including the tabernacle painted by Lipinski and banners;
- interior furnishings including altars, pews, and original lighting fixtures.
Bell Tower Exterior:
- the form and massing, including pyramidal roof capped with Latin cross;
- the pattern of fenestration including blind windows on belfry storey and double hung two-over-two windows on lower storey;
- bevelled wood siding;
- wood roof shingles;
- the structural opening with double panelled doors.
Bell Tower Interior:
- V-joint tongue-and-groove finishing with wainscoting and decorative stencilling and motifs, door and window wood trim, board and batten door to enclosed staircase to second floor;
- rotary yoke system for housing the two bells, including holes in ceiling for ropes to the main floor, and the two bells;
- tree plantings;
- mission cross.