by June Dutka
Towards the close of 1899, some 150 devoted Ukrainian Catholic immigrants worked together with Father John Damascene Polywka, OSBM, to purchase land and to build the first St. Nicholas Church at the corner of McGregor Street and Stella Avenue. Roman Catholic Archbishop Adélard Langevin extended a loan of $18,000 in 1904 for the construction of a larger church on McGregor Street opposite the first church.
The number of parishioners continued to increase steadily. By 1944, preliminary plans for a third St. Nicholas Church were initiated by Father Joseph Senkiw, OSBM. Later in 1948, after an underground auditorium was completed and in use, construction was permanently halted owing to the church's close proximity to the Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga.
In 1961, Archbishop-Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, CSsR, granted the Basilian Fathers permission to purchase land at the corner of Arlington Street and Bannerman Avenue. On the morning of July 10, 1966, Divine Liturgies were celebrated for the last time in the old church. In the afternoon, the solemn blessing of the present church took place. Later that year, the monastery-residence attached to the church was blessed. It serves as a parish office, residence for the pastor and other clergy and as headquarters for the Order of St. Basil the Great in Canada.
1899 Father John D. Polywka, OSBM., arrived in Winnipeg and worked with immigrants to purchase land for the building of Winnipeg's first Ukrainian Catholic Church. The site was blessed, dedicated, and named after St. Nicholas, the Wonder-worker.
1901 The construction of St. Nicholas Church was completed; the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Father John Zaklinsky.
1903 Basilian Missionaries, Fathers Matthew Hura and Naucratius Kryzanowsky, established permanent residence in Winnipeg.
1904 The construction of the second St. Nicholas Church was completed; Father Hura was appointed first pastor. He started the first Ukrainian school in a small house on the corner of Selkirk Avenue and McGregor Street.
1905 The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate began teaching the children in the parish. Later classes were held in the basement of the church until 1911 when St. Nicholas School was built on the corner of Flora Avenue and McKenzie Street.
1912 Bishop Nicetas Budka, the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop for Canada, celebrated Pontifical Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church.
1913 Bishop Budka blessed a large bell and named it after St. Nicholas. Two smaller bells installed in 1906 were named after Sts. Basil and Josaphat.
1920 Artist John Sich began painting the church interior. Main and side altars were consecrated by Bishop Budka.
1932 Christmas Divine Liturgy was celebrated at midnight for the first time.
1941 The Parish adopted the Gregorian calendar.
1968 The bells were transferred to a newly constructed bell tower next to the new church.
1977 A celebration was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the missionary work in Canada of the Basilian Fathers and Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.
1979 The sacristy and its contents were destroyed by fire.
1988 The mosaic-icon above the main entrance to the church was blessed.
1995 Father Cornelius J. Pasichny, OSBM, then pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, was appointed Eparch for Saskatchewan for Ukrainian Catholics.
1999 The beginning of centenary celebrations which culminated in June 2001.