Celebrating 90 years of Ukrainian Culture
The Ukrainian Labour Temple on the corner of McGregor and Pritchard is one of the historic landmarks of the North End.
This imposing building has been the centre of the cultural, political and social life for generations of Ukrainian Canadians in Winnipeg.
And what history the building holds! The founding members were committed to improving the lot of Ukrainian workers and farmers newly arrived in Canada. They needed a home for numerous organizations that would provide not only cultural and educational activities, but also mutual aid and charitable services in an era long before Medicare or welfare.
Funds were in short supply when the founders laid the cornerstone of this cultural centre in 1918. And money wasn’t the only challenge.
At the time, public gatherings were outlawed due to the influenza pandemic and fears that workers may try to organize and lobby for better working conditions. Those who attended meetings faced the very real risk of arrest and even deportation. Perhaps the authorities’ fears were well placed, because the members of the Labour Temple played a large role in the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919 and the building was raided by the North West Mounted Police.
Myron Shatulsky of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), and Nolan Reilly, Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg, lobbied to get the federal government to recognize both the architectural and historical significance of the building. They succeeded in having it designated as a National Historic Site in 2009 as the AUUC celebrated its 90thanniversary.
Shatulsky has also played an important role in one of the best known of the AUUC’s cultural organizations, the Winnipeg Mandolin Orchestra. Founded in 1921, it is one of Manitoba’s oldest community orchestras.
The original members were teenage girls, but over the years the orchestra grew to include boys, then adults, and then other instruments and styles of music crept in. Ninety years later, it is still going strong and plays an eclectic range of music while retaining its Ukrainian roots. Shatulsky has researched, arranged and written numerous compositions for the orchestra. For many years he was its musical director and he founded the annual Festival of Mandolins. He never misses a concert.
Now enjoying his retirement in the adjacent Ivan Franko Manor, Shatulsky continues to be an active participant in the cultural activities in the Labour Temple. He was pleased to hear that the residents of the Manor will have an ACU branch so close to home. “A lot of us are members,” he says “and it will be so convenient to have a branch just up the street.”
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