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The Pattern of Ukrainian
Immigration and Settlement

The Prairies remained relatively empty until 1896. Between 1874 and 1896 an average of only 3000 homestead entries were made yearly and very many of these were cancelled shortly thereafter. The first transcontinental -- the CPR -- had been completed in 1885, but fear of grasshopper infestations, global economic depression, lacklustre promotion and the fact that the railroads had yet to select the lands to which they were entitled, all combined to reduce immigration to an insignificant trickle. Although a few Ukrainian settlers arrived between 1891 and 1895, organized Ukrainian emigration from Galicia and Bukovyna to Canada began in 1896 and did not assume mass proportions prior to 1898.

An important feature of Ukrainian settlement in western Canada was the distinctive culture of the immigrants and the way they preserved traditions such as the decorations of eggs,called pysanka or pysanky, which were then blessed by priests for Easter. This statue at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village commemorates Ukrainian settlement in east-central Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th century. Mrs. Fred (Sophie) Hrynchuck, Ukrainian settler, Redwater, Alberta, 1912. Born in Galicia, 1891. When they arrived, Ukrainian immigrants did not settle on the open prairie lands which stretched across the southern half of the Prairie provinces. Instead they settled on lands in the "park belt" and forest areas further north. The oldest and largest Ukrainian settlement on the Prairies, the one in east central Alberta, straddled the frontier between the "park belt" and the forest region. By 1916 it covered an area of about 2500 square miles.

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  • Ukrainian Christmas in the 1920s - Ukrainian settlers in Alberta celebrated Christmas in unique ways. Hear about the agrarian traditions that influence Ukrainian Christmas rituals.
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  • The Meal at Ukrainian Christmas - The traditional Ukrainian Christmas meal consists of twelve dishes, all without meat. Listen to David Goa explain the other Christmas traditions that Ukrainian settlers brought with them to Alberta.
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  • Ukrainian Carolling - Caroling was one of the most important traditions of the Ukrainian Christmas season. Hear more about this festive ritual!
    Read | Listen
  • Epiphany: Blessing the Water - The Epiphany was the final Ukrainian holiday of the Christmas season. Listen, and learn about the tradition of blessing water on this day.
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  • Ukrainian Settlement, Part One: Ivan Pylypow and Wasyl Eleniak Come to Alberta - Who were the first Ukrainian settlers, and why did they head for Alberta? Hear the story, now!
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  • Ukrainian Settlement, Part Two - Hear the story of Ivan Pylypow, one of the first Ukrainian settlers in Alberta.
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  • Ukrainian Settlement, Part Three: Joseph Oleskiw - Joseph Oleskiw helped his fellow immigrants come to Alberta. Hear how he did it!
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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.