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Ukrainian Reading Association “Chytal’nia Prosvita”
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- Ukrainian Reading Association
- Ridna shkola
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Dates of existence
The Ukrainian Reading Association “Chytal’nia Prosvita” was founded in 1903 by the members of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic church parish in Winnipeg. The goal of the association is to promote and foster the Ukrainian culture (language, history, geography) through the education of ordinary people. The movement of the enlightenment society “Prosvita” started in the city of Lviv, Crownland of Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now western Ukraine) in 1868. The first Ukrainians coming to Canada who were members of the mother organization in Ukraine brought this idea with them to Winnipeg. They first held meetings at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church and later at SS. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral and opened their Ukrainian heritage school, “Ridna Shkola”, in 1918.
In 1919 the members of the “Chytal’nia Prosvita,” which had rented various locales since 1903, discussed the possibility of purchasing their own building. (In January 1919 rioting unemployed war veterans had sacked and destroyed the association’s quarters at Dufferin and Parr because they perceived its members as “enemy alien” Austro-Hungarians.) Eight members of the association loaned their own money to purchase a lot at 667 Flora Avenue. The newly constructed building officially opened on October 9, 1921 and was blessed by Metropolitan Andrei Sheptyckyj, who was touring North America. A list of donors who contributed to the Ukrainian Reading Association’s building was hung on the wall in the new building.
With the new building, new organizations came into being such as the Benevolent Association of “Chytal’na Prosvita” - the Mutual Aid Society (1927); the Women’s Organization of Maria Markovych (1931); and the “Plast” youth organization (1930). In addition to the above mentioned organizations, many other groups and institutions used the building for their own activities during the years that ensued: the Society of Volyn and Research Institute of Volyn, the Ukrainian National Federation, the North Winnipeg Credit Union, and various musical and theatrical groups. “Chytal’nia Prosvita” also had a large library it was used by the Ukrainian community of the North End.
The Ukrainian Reading Association “Chytal’nia Prosvita” housed various cultural events, debates, lectures, concerts, amateur theatre and dance performances. Many prominent Ukrainian artists and scholars visited “Chytal’nia Prosvita such as E. Turula (composer), K. Andrysyshyn (educator), V. Avramenko (choreographer), O. Koshetz (director of choir) and many others who performed at the “Chytal’na Prosvita”.
In 1982 a big fire destroyed most of the building and although costly repairs kept it going for a while, it deteriorated to the point that the members of the “Chytal’nia Prosvita” decided to sell the building. The Ukrainian Reading Association’s building finally closed the doors on May 31, 2001. The Chytal’nia Prosvita’s executive board relocated to the North Winnipeg Credit Union, and their funds were transferred into a Designated Fund in the Shevchenko Foundation. The Ukrainian heritage school “Ridna shkola” operated out of Andrew Mynarski School. It had 10 grades and opened its doors to students every Sunday. A large number of books from the Ukrainian Reading Association were sent to Ukraine and the rest were deposited into the University of Manitoba Slavic Collection.
The “Chytal’nia Prosvita’s” building provided a gathering place and support to many Ukrainian immigrants who came to Winnipeg to start their new lives. It promoted Ukrainian language and culture, provided educational and social services, strengthened national consciousness, and also educated the general public about Ukraine and its people. It fit perfectly into the multicultural mosaic of Winnipeg and played a major role in Ukrainian-Canadian history. The success of the “Chytal’nia Prosvita" is a testimony to the many hard working individuals who, over the years, contributed to the promotion of Ukrainian education in Canada.
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Created by V. Zvonik (2012). Revised by N. Courrier (April 2020), Orest Martynowych (May 2020).