RUSSO-ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE TRANSFIGURATION (STAR EDNA)
Russo-Greek Orthodox Church of Transfiguration
Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration
The Russo Greek Catholic Orthodox Church of Star Alberta
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna), is a wood-frame structure on a cruciform plan with a central dome constructed in 1913 in the Star district of Lamont County in Alberta. Located at the junction of gravel range and township roads, it faces west on a site that has tree plantings on the south perimeter. The associated two-storey square bell tower with pyramidal roof is located immediately southwest and the cemetery lies to the north.
The historical significance of the Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna) lies in its association with the outcome of one of the most divisive religious struggles in the history of Ukrainian settlement in western Canada. A Greek Catholic congregation built a church on this site in 1899, but it soon became the focus of a significant battle for control between the Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Those members of the congregation denouncing the dominance of Roman Catholic clergy chose to withdraw and revert to the principles of Russian Orthodoxy, under the name of the Russo-Greek Orthodox Church. The disputed ownership of the church, which closed from 1902 to 1906, went to court, while the debate raged on the pages of North American Ukrainian and Russian language periodicals, and in immigrant homes, tearing communities, friends and families apart. After two appeals the case was settled on December 3, 1907, by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, the highest court available to Canadians, in favour of the breakaway Russo-Greek Orthodox congregation, while those who wished to remain Greek Catholic (Uniate) were awarded a proportionate compensation based on the property's current value. An abiding legacy of the dispute at Star was that when other congregations subsequently experienced similar splits, their differences were ironed out without resorting to court battles.
The site of the Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna) is also significant for its direct association with Ivan Pylypow, believed to be the first Ukrainian immigrant in Canada, who homesteaded immediately south on the section of land that formed the nucleus of Ukrainian settlement in east-central Alberta. Ivan Pylypow, one of the founding members of the Greek Catholic congregation, eventually joined the breakaway Russo-Greek Orthodox congregation, and is buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church. The one hundred year anniversary of the arrival of the first four Ukrainian immigrant families to the Star-Edna district was celebrated with a service in the Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna) and ceremonies at the cemetery in 1994. The site is a prominent landmark in the Star district and has remained in continuous use as a place of worship to the present.
The Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna) has architectural value as a representative example of a church built on a cruciform plan with a distinctive central drum and dome, defining features of church architecture rooted in the Byzantine tradition. It was built by the Russo-Greek Orthodox congregation who dismantled the ill-fated 1899 church, cut the logs into lumber and used this material to build the new church. The associated wood-frame bell tower, built at an undetermined date, is typical in design and proportion of bell towers in the region that were constructed for permanent housing of the church bell.
Source: Lamont County (Research file: The Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna))
Character-defining elements of the Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna) that define the church and associated bell tower as being rooted in the Byzantine tradition include architectural features such as:
- the scale, massing and cruciform plan, including cedar-shingled, high-pitched, cross gable roof with return eaves, large, central, wood-frame drum with dome clad in galvanized sheet metal panels, capped by a cupola with a wood Orthodox tri-bar cross;
- bevelled wood siding;
- the pattern of fenestration, including the arched rectangular windows with fixed radially segmented pane, the circular window on the apse, and the wide arched transom window with fixed segmented pane on the west elevation over the entrance.
- the spatial configuration including nave, transepts, and sanctuary separated by an iconostasis, vaulted ceilings in the open dome, nave, transepts, and the pendentives of the dome, choir loft with stair access via the vestibule;
- interior finishes including horizontal V-joint tongue-and-groove and vertical tongue-and-groove stained wainscoting, hardwood floors, decorative mouldings and chair rails, original stained wood door and window trim, interior double panelled doors opening from the vestibule to the nave;
- iconic and decorative elements including the representation of the four evangelists painted on the pendentives.
Bell Tower Exterior:
- the form and massing, including pyramidal roof capped with tri-bar cross;
- bevelled wood siding on all four elevations;
- wood shingle roof cladding;
- door and window openings.
Bell Tower Interior:
- staircase to second floor;
- rotary yoke system for suspending the bell, including holes in ceiling for ropes to the main floor;
- benches and bell.
- tree plantings;
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
Lamont County, Administration Building, 5303 - 50 Avenue, Lamont, AB TOB 2RO (Research file: The Russo-Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration (Star Edna))
Cross-Reference to Collection