Egremont Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church

14 km. southwest of Thorhild

22 km. northwest of Redwater

Thorhild County (NW-2-59-22-W4)

In the early 1910's, the area around Redwater and Egremont was settled mostly by individuals from Western Ukraine.

One of the early Ukrainian settlers, Michael Horbach identified ten acres of land on his homestead in 1913 for the future site of a Catholic church and cemetery. In the spring of 1917, volunteer work began on a log church on Michael Horbach's deeded property, with Michael Horbach and Andrew Kozak supervising construction. In February 1922, the Czensnko Christa (Holy Cross) Church was incorporated within the Ukrainian Catholic Holy Eucharist Parish of Thorhild. (1)

By the end of the 1930s, the church was considered to be too small for the parish. In 1939, planning began on a newer and larger church. When actual construction was begun on the new church, the old log church was closed and moved closer to the church hall to serve as a kitchen. In 1976, the log church was moved to Thorhild Centennial Park's museum. According to Renee Chaba, (Secretary of the Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church Historical Society) - "It was moved to Thorhild where it sat for several years, where it deteriorated and was vandalized and nothing was done to protect it. It was finally burnt and not ever restored or used again.."(2)

In 1944, construction was completed on the second church - it was built on original site of first church. It was built by Andrew Kozak. The interior was decorated by Walter Pashak. (3)

At the beginning, the parish was very active. With the discovery of oil around Redwater plus the increase in mechanization and size of family farms resulted in the outward migration of many young people from the area. In the late 1950's, church attendance substantially dropped. In 1969, regular services were discontinued. However, occasional special services have been conducted in the following years.

Oriented on the east-west axis, the church is designed on a central longitudinal cruciform plan following Byzantine traditions. The church has one dome with the two tower-like structures on the entrance fa├žade. The site contains both the church and two cemeteries. The original cemetery (located by the Church on the southeast corner of the site) is no longer functional due to the presence of a high water table. The second cemetery is located at the northeast corner of the site. The surrounding area is surrounded by flat arable land, second or third-generation trees.

One enters the narthex through a small vestibule under the choir loft. The narthex leads into the nave with north and south transepts and a chancel on a raised floor. Each transept has its individual entrances from the exterior. Within the chancel there is the sanctuary that surrounds the altar. In addition, there are two identical sacristies located north and south of the crossing with individual entrances from the exterior. There is no iconostasis.

A large drum fixture rises from the intersection of the roofs over the nave. The structure then supports a high octagonal (onion-shaped) dome. A large wrought iron cross sits on top of the dome.

The interior is heavily decorated with a variety of stenciling. As mentioned, Walter Pashak did all the artistic paintings and decorations for the Church. His artwork style is completely different from Peter Lipinski. There is indication that the Church had various icons on its walls - the status of these icons is unknown.

In 2004, this church was designated as a Registered Historic Resource for the Province of Alberta.