Alvena, Saskatchewan Genealogy and Homestead History

Churches, Monastery, and Cemeteries in the Alvena Area

This web page was first mounted on March 3, 2011 by Sheila Schmutz. and last updated on June 29, 2021.

Why so many churches, so close together? Travelling was more difficult 100 years ago. In addition to three different types of religion, Roman Catholic, Ukranian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox, there were different languages. Although the Roman Catholic mass was conducted in Latin, sermons and confession were conducted in other languages such as French, Polish, and Ukrainian. The church was a central gathering place in these communities.

The first church services in the surrounding area apparently occurred in Fort Carlton in 1838. Roman Catholic missionaries served the people of the area beginning in 1870 (Lavigne 1990).

The first church in the RM of Fish Creek was part of the Métis settlement along the South Saskatchewan river, 3 miles north of the site of the Battle of Fish Creek. It is often referred to as the Fish Creek Church. It was a Roman Catholic church, built in 1901. Prior to that, settlers went to the Catholic Church in Batoche which had been built in 1883, for marriages and christenings and funerals. Father Brueck who was responsible for St. Patrick Orphanage in Prince Albert was sent to Fish Creek to set up the mission (Lavigne 1990). Father Theodore Krist became the first resident priest. He had River Lot 12 in Township 42A. This first church was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1901. This church was burnt in 1920 and a new church built there following a plan similar to the original church. In 1954 the parish became a mission of Alvena and the church was closed in 1957 (Lavigne 1990). In 1973 the land and church was sold to Joe & Olga Bazowski. He planted wheat right up to the church in the hopes of preventing vandalism. Although abandoned, it still stands on private land. It is still owned by Olga Bazowski in 2011. An associated cemetery is located about 0.5 miles east of the church, now across the road. About 85 graves are still identifiable in this cemetery, although 18 of these do not bear a legible name. Any help identifying the persons buried in the unmarked graves is appreciated.

Terry Hoknes has also taken a video of this cemetery and it is posted on YouTube. Most of the graves are shown.

St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church is located in St. Julien (SW 20-42-28-W2, on the "correction line" road, about 1 mile south of the current HWY 312. This church is located just west of what is now called the 3rd Meridian Road. Five acres of land for the church and original cemetery was donated by Michalo Lysak from his quarter. The original church was used from 1903-1912 and the minister was Hryhory Pihach. The "new" church in the SE quarter was built in 1913 on 5 acres of land donated by Dmytro Michayluk and has been used to the present day. This Catholic church has its roots in Russian Orthodoxy. Iwan Bodnarchuk donated 5 acres for the cemetery. The first person buired in the original cemetery was Dokia Budzak in 1902, then 85 years old. It is about a half mile west of the current church and its adjacent cemetery. Terry Hoknes has taken a video of this cemetery and the original cemetery.

The first baptism was Wasyl Bukurak born 14 Jan 1904 to Elko and Anna Bukurak who settled in 1897. The first wedding was on 4 Feb 1904: Michalo Burdego to Paraska Zaleschuk. An excellent booklet "Commemorating Pioneers of the First Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of St. Julien, Sask." written by Andrew Hawrish in 1967 is available at the Saskatchewan Archives.

There is also another church about 1.5 miles east, on the north side of Hwy 312 (SW 28-42-28-W3), called the "Independent Greek Church of Canada" which operated from 1907 to 1915. A nearby cemetery is still in use. Terry Hoknes has taken a video of this cemetery in June 2011 and it is posted on YouTube. The location is sometimes called "Snaityn".

The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church is located on the northern edge of the RM of Fish Creek on NW 18-43-27-W2. It is often called the Sokal church. The first church was built in 1904 and was active until 1939. The second church which now stands was built in 1943 on land donated by Fedir Rawlyk. The land for the cemetery was donated by Phillip Mamchur. There were about 130 marked graves when Walter Pustey transcribed this cemetery in September 2004 for his book on this subject.

A Basilian Monastery existed in Alvena from 1902-1905 1.5 miles south of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thereafter the fathers moved to Alberta (Hawrish 1967). The orignial cemetery for the parish was on the monastery grounds. The monastery burnt, so is no longer there. The "new" parish cemetery is at the church grounds in Alvena Farms.

The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located 4 miles northwest of Alvena in Rural Municipality of Fish Creek (402) (NW 22-41-1-W3). The current church, called St. Mary's, was constructed from 1923 to 1925, but the original log church was built in 1905. (note that several church in the area are named after the Blessed Virgin Mary so it can be quite confusing). It is a Ukrainian Catholic parish. "The founding members of the Alvena Farms parish were: N. (Nicola?) Chyzyk, T. (Tymko?) Kozak, D. (Dmytro?) Skakun, A. Hawryschuk, I. (John?) Kinash and S. (Stefan?) Yuzek." Mass is now held there only once a year by the pastor in Cudworth. An "old" and a "new" cemetery are associated with this church. Terry Hokness has videotaped both cemeteries, the smaller old one and the larger new one.

The Laniwci Church of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ is located 8 miles west of Alvena, in the R.M. of Aberdeen (373). The original log and clay church was built in 1906. It was converted to the parish hall in 1916, when a new church was built. Unfortunately the original chuch was later dismantled. This 1916 church was struck by lightning on August 16, 1964 and burnt to the ground. The current church was built in 1965. The parish cemetery is 1.5 miles east of the church. This is a Ukrainian Catholic parish. The list of parish founders was: S. Lozinsky, N. Lozinsky, P. Zary, Michal Slywka, H. Stadnyk, Petro Stadnyk, Prokop Bazowsky, N. Owchar, Semko or Stefan Remenda, K. Halabura, Safat or Semko Korpan, Ivan Korpan, Mychal Korpan, F. Scherban, D. Moysiuk, Hr. Moysiuk, Ya. Wozniak, Olena Wasylciw, Mykh. Wasylciw, R. Fedoriw, M. Schyglovsky, A. Bankowy, Olekso Wizniuk, M. Swidzinsky, P. Kurmey, Y. Sikorski, Y. Kisil, II. Gabruch, N. Parchewsky, Y. Michasiw, Ilko Hnatiw, 01. Hnatiw, Oleksa Kondra, Fed. Yurkiw, Vas. Holubetz, Yo. Hrytzak (Jozyyf Hrycak), II. Stasiuk and Nick E. Dziadyk. (italicized names have homestead files Several men with the same last names also have homestead files, but not that first initial) "In 1902 these founding members purchased a 160 acre site which was fully paid for by 1908; part of the site was used for the church, various parish buildings and the cemetery, while the remainder was cultivated and provided revenue for the maintenance of the church." This church is under the parish of Vonda now. Persons buried in the church cemetery as of 2006 have been recorded by Carrie Eirene Stevenson. There was also a historical webpage about this church (

The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ Church was built in 1904 in what became the hamlet of Carpenter, also called Hory. It is a Ukrainian Catholic parish. It was located on a hilly piece of land donated by Antin Sawitsky which was how the Ukrainian name of Hory originated. "The founding members of this parish were: Antin Sawitsky, Tymko Bureny, Ivan Yanciw, Tymofry Baraniecki, Hryhor Kormysh, Mykhaylo Kotelko, Oleksa Kotelko, Andriy Bambukh, Ilko Mantyka, Matiy Sawitsky, Lesiw, Wasyliw, and Danylo Sawitsky." This church is of log construction. The church closed in 1967, although it is well maintained to this day.

The cemetery has at least 100 graves and some are very recent. Most of the inscriptions on the tombstones are in cyrillic.

St. Stanislaw Church was a Catholic Church that was built in 1903. It remained active until about 1920 according to the Centennial Map. A new church was built nearby in 1933 and remained active until 1960. There is no evidence of this church today, but a small cemetery is still present on NW 8-41-27-W2 which is kitty corner to the church site. Some of the diocese records for 1901-1906 refer to this cemetery as the "Kotlar cemetery". This was likely because Joseph Kotlar owned NE 18-41-27-W2 where St. Stanislaw Church was built. He entered that quarter in 1901 and patented it in 1908, so probably donated a portion of it for the original church.

All the tombstones in this small cemetery were photographed in August 2011 and are available on FindAGrave.

St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church was built in Alvena village in 1910 and was active to 1947 according to the Centennial Map. It is shown at the right. There is an associated cemetery on SW 2-41-28 W3. Tombstone transcriptions for about 40 graves are indexed in the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society burial index, accessible only to members with the value-added package.

A new church was built about 6 miles to the southeast in 1948 and remained active until 1964.

The Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church cemetery is about 3 miles SW of Alvena. The Centennial map suggests the church was built in 1905, and that the parish remained active there until 1953. There is no evidence of that church now, in 2011. However, the cemetery is still there and well maintained. A new church was built within the village of Alvena in 1928 (Levigne 1990).

By 1990, there was no resident priest, but the priest from Wakaw held services in Alvena. Now the church, shown at the right, is closed. (Photos Joe Schmutz April 2011)

This was at the request of Polish settlers in the area. A letter by the original applicants, written June 12, 1922, is contained in "Kaliedoscope......" on p. 204. The names of the persons who signed are listed below. The letter states that there were 38 families and over 150 persons.

  • A. Guzock
  • Jakub Matkowski
  • Marcin Oleskiw +
  • Nyk Ganchar +
  • Ignaci Ganscsar (Ganozar) +
  • A. (Antoni) Matushewski +
  • N. Deptuch
  • M. Niedlski
  • Rudolf Medziolski
  • J. Juskowski
  • M. J. Michalkow
  • M.S. C. Wawryk
  • Antoni Buczynski
  • Frank Rozdolka (X)
  • Stefan Wawryk (X) +
  • Mary Mishalkiw (X)
  • T. Oleskiw (Theodor) +
  • M. Karwacki (Mikolaj) +
  • Jozyf Rumianski (X)
  • Antoni Tchorzewski (X)
  • Jan Michalkow (John) +
  • N. Luyszyn (Nykola Lucyshyn) +
  • A. Raczynski

The tombstones in this cemetery date from 1907 to 2010, when we did the survey of it in 2011. We have also submitted a transcritpion of all of the tombstones and photos of several of them to Find A Grave . Several of the names on the list above, indicated by a +, are also on tombstones in this cemetery.

There is also a Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church 12 miles northwest of Wakaw. The current church was built in 1943 but the cemetery has a few listings from 1903. The first church was apparently built of logs in 1904 and burnt in 1939.

Many of the early deaths in the cemeteries in the region occurred in 1918 or 1919, the years that the Spanish flu epidemic hit this area. It is suggested that "This virus was most detrimental to the 20 to 40 years age group, where the survival rate was 50%" and one in four families were infected. The monument in the center of this cemetery bears only the inscription 1919, but I presume it was erected in relation to the many deaths as a result of the Spanish flu epidemic.

A memorial marker is located west of Alvena in the RM of Aberdeen (S 13-41-2-W3) for Jozyf Hrycak or Hritsak who died 21 June 1917 and his wife Avaokia.

Thanks for your interest!

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