St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, Sirko, MB

Reid Dickie

A one-of-a-kind example of two Ukrainian churches in the same churchyard – one original, the other succeeding – can be discovered in Sirko in extreme southeastern Manitoba, about a mile from the Minnesota border.

The original St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church, of log construction, was built in a vernacular style in 1908 under the direction of Dmytro Waskul. Its small rounded rectangular plan accommodates the vestibule at one end and sanctuary at the other. Its delightfully painted interior can hold about 30 standing adults.

The unusual roofline with deep overhanging eaves supported by large V-brackets and trisected at the ends to produce a curved space is fully engaging. The three crosses along the peak of the roof leave no doubt as to the function of the little place.

Next to the old church is a log bell tower of traditional Ukrainian design and construction.

Modest, holy and surrounded by the graves of former parishioners, many with tall white crosses denoting their Orthodox faith, the old church shares its sanctity with its replacement.

Indicating the success of the second generation of Ukrainians, they replaced their humble utilitarian building in 1950 with a grander expression of their faith.

Larger and more substantial, the style is familiar: cruciform with three small banyas or onion domes, one surmounting a larger central dome and arched Romanesque openings all around.

A new bell tower was constructed along with the church. In this picture you can see both churches and both bell towers. The new St. Elias, a focal point of the local farming community, is still used regularly.

Blue on blue, white on white, the church and sky harmonize on a hot Manitoba afternoon.

Watch my 3:08 video of both St. Elias churches.

Sirko is located about five miles south of MB Hwy #201 on Mile Rd 54E just east of Sundown.

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Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

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