NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church at Leeshore
Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Leeshore
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary UGC Church, Leeshore
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a small, cruciform, wood-frame church clad with white bevelled wood siding that profiles a large onion-shaped dome. It faces west on a landscaped site that includes a cemetery, on the west side of a gravel range road, about a kilometre from the North Saskatchewan River, in Lamont County, Alberta.
The heritage value of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church lies in its architectural significance as a fine regional example of a church built in the Byzantine tradition that evolved in western Canada. Constructed in 1918, it has a cruciform plan with a nave, transepts and sanctuary contained in an apse flanked by twin sacristies. It has a characteristic high-pitched cross gable roof and large open octagonal drum with an open dome clad with galvanized metal sheets. The dome is surmounted by an elaborate two-barred metal cross with trefoil ends and a half-moon on the lower limb that in western Canada has come to symbolize Ukrainian identity. The interior has vaulted ceilings and is finished with V-joint horizontal tongue-and-groove above vertical tongue-and-groove wainscoting. Projecting wooden painted columns that rise to the base of the pendentives of the open dome give a vertical emphasis to the delineation of the sanctuary from the nave and transepts.
The primary heritage value of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church lies in its interior decoration. The inside of the church provides the most elaborate and profuse example of the skilled wall painting and rich iconographic work of church painter Peter Lipinski (1888-1975) in the Lamont County Region. Lipinski, considered to be one of Alberta's foremost church painters, was hired by the congregation in 1928 to paint the church and individual icons to be donated by parishioners. Lipinski's iconographic schema followed the centuries-old Byzantine tradition in a symbolic placement of specific images depicting the ordering of the Universe and the link between the holy beings and the worshipper. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is especially significant as an example of Lipinski's incorporation of spatial perspective effects on flat surfaces such as the masonry effect of cut stone executed in paint. His work is notable for the elaborate geometric, organic, or abstract designs in numerous tiers of multicoloured stencilled bands throughout the church along with the icon of St. David with his lyre on the wall of the choir loft. The church furnishings exemplify the work of master carpenter Philip Pawluk (1879-1965), who built the main altar, the tabernacle, the side altars, the tetrapod, and the processional icon. The interior of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church illustrates the collaboration of Lipinski and Pawluk, artists whose work may be found in many of the municipality's churches.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is an important symbol of religious and ethnic identity in the Leeshore district, and, as a significant link with the settlement period, is an important contributing element to the municipality's cultural landscape.
Source: Lamont County (Research file: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church)
Character-defining elements of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church include such features as:
- the cruciform plan, scale and massing, including high-pitched cross gable roof truncated by a large octagonal drum and open dome flanked by corner structural roof elements with a partial hipped roof, galvanized metal sheet cladding on the large onion shaped open dome with lantern terminating in a ball surmounted by an elaborate two-barred metal cross with trefoil ends and a half-moon on the lower limb, the twin sacristies off the apsidal sanctuary;
- the pattern of structural openings, including entrance to south transept, and of fenestration on all elevations and the central dome that includes the large rectangular round arched fixed pane windows with segments of patterned pressed glass in the shape of a cross, the round segmented window with coloured pressed glass on the apse and the half-round segmented window on the west wall over the vestibule;
- the white painted bevelled siding;
- the red brick chimney, with its distinctive corbelled top on the north wall of the north transept.
- the spatial configuration, including nave, side chapels in transepts and apsidal sanctuary, vaulted ceilings in the dome, nave and transepts, and the pendentives of the dome;
- interior finishes including horizontal V-joint tongue-and-groove above vertical tongue-and-groove wainscoting, tongue-and-groove plank flooring, decorative projecting columns, mouldings and chair rails, wood door and window trim, choir loft and stair access in the southwest corner of nave, interior double doors opening from the vestibule to the nave;
- all iconographic and decorative elements such as the original schema of fixed wall icons including the winged angels, and the pattern and colours of all motifs including the golden coloured stars on the ceilings and the multi-coloured stencilled bands throughout painted by Lipinski;
- all original liturgical items, including the tabernacle built by Philip Pawluk and banners painted by Lipinski;
- interior furnishings including main altar, side altars, and surrounds for the sanctuary and processional icon built by Philip Pawluk, benches, and coat hooks.
- the two-storey fieldstone bell tower complete with single centrally-located passage and three round-arched openings with voussoirs in a Palladian arrangement, the round-headed niche that houses a statue of the Virgin Mary, and semi-circular prominences at each end of the tower;
- 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 Nativity of the Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Leeshore)
Cross-Reference to Collection