Text and photos by Oleh Iwanusiw - 1996
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The Wooden Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in
Niagara Falls, Ontario.
When visiting the American or the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara falls, the tourist should know that there are more things then the "Falls and Marineland" to see. I would suggest seeing the Boyko-style wooden church and the Niagara Falls Art Gallery.
The gallery is dedicated to the works of William Kurelek, a famous Canadian artist of Ukrainian ancestry. One of the permanent exhibits in the gallery is the 160 piece collection of "The Passions of Christ" and includes other fine works by the renowned Canadian artist of Ukrainian ancestry. The gallery is situated at 8058 East Service Rd. (Queen Elizabeth Highway) near McLeod Road. McLeod Road is the road that takes you to Marineland and the tourist area above the falls.
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located on the "main drag" of Niagara Falls as you head down to the falls. If you are coming from the falls, you would go left, up the hill, in the direction of the Skylon Tower. Continue past the tower to hit Main Street and the church on your right hand side.
The church was built oven the period of 1986 - 1990. The outer shell of the church was ready in 1987, while the Icon Screen was finished only in 1990. I do not know who were all the instigators in the construction of the church, but I do know that Stefan Karofel was one of these.
The architect of the church was Ihor Stecura of Toronto, while the timber work was done by Timothy J. Bullock Co. using fir logs from British Columbia.
Ihor Stecura, architect.
It may be interesting for the readers to find out a few facts about the architect. Ihor Stecura came to Canada after WWII on board one of the "Liberty Ships" named "Marine Falcon". He studied architecture at the University of Toronto and his graduation thesis on Ukrainian Wooden Church Architecture was subsidised by the Society of Ukrainian Engineers and Associates.
Ihor's professional practice included the building of several wooden churches as well as chapels. Ihor has won several major prises for his wooden architecture. The Wooden Church of St. Volodymyr in the St. Volodymyr Park near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, brought him the 1-st Prize in 1986 from the WOOD COUNCIL of Canada, in the non residential category. The Wooden Church in Niagara Falls won Ihor the Merit Award from the same Wood council of Canada in 1988.
Of interest to the reader may be that Ihor's grandfather, Ivan Holovka, was an accomplished wooden church builder. This Ihor Stecura found out only after becoming an architect himself. Among others, Ivan Holovka built the wooden church in Dachniv (see "Church in Ruins" page 270) which was completed after his death in 1929 and stands to this day. The story goes that he fell gravely ill at the construction site in Dachniw in December 1923. He was taken by a horse drawn wagon to Lviv, a journey that took three days. He died at the age of 47, on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1923.
1987. Church under construction.
Note the new cedar shingles on the roof and the stylised domes.
1990. The finished church.
The cedar shingles are now weathered and the crosses in place. Standing in front are Stefan Kartofel, Elenora Kotyk, Bohdan Kotyk (the former mayor of Lviv) and Bozhena Iwanusiw.
1990. The central portion of the brand new Icon Screen.
Work of Lytwyn.
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Copyright © 1996 Oleh Iwanusiw
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Originally Composed: Sunday March 23rd 1997.
Date last modified: Tuesday August 17th 1999.