Eat, Pray and Love all Things Ukrainian in Manitoba
Whether you're visiting or live in Manitoba, chances are you'll encounter the ubiquitous dumpling that populates the prairies—the perogy. Traditionally a starch-ridden peasant staple, the perogy's history and presence in Manitoba can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when large numbers of Russians, Poles, Estonians, and Hungarians immigrated to Canada's Prairies, with the largest group being Ukrainians. Most Eastern European and Slavic cultures have their own twist on this culinary classic, and it remains a steadfast favourite at family gatherings, potlucks and home-style restaurants across the province.
But don't be fooled by its simple origins and appearance—the perogy is in fact a delectable chameleon of the peasant food pantheon, and can be found in many forms, varieties and even hybrids. A perogy by any other name, or any other filling beyond the usual cheese or potato, is equally delicious! Try them stuffed with sauerkraut, saskatoons or blueberries, prunes, cherries, meat, mushrooms, beans, or pizza inspired fillings. Serve them boiled or fried, with onions or bacon, alongside sour cream, fresh dill, gravy, wild mushroom cream sauce, pin cherry syrup, or even with fresh tomato sauce like gargantuan-sized gnocchi. Everyone has their own cultural take, preferred filling flavour, and dumpling-chef they swear by, so loosen your belt, get out the sour cream or your choice of accoutrement, and start eating to discover your own favourite.
Manitoba is stuffed-full of perogies and wherever you find them, you'll also discover evidence of a rich and extensive Ukrainian heritage. Enjoy your perogies with a hefty helping of Ukrainian historical sites, architecture, landmarks and lively cultural events.
Manitoba's capital city, Winnipeg, is home to a healthy population of Ukrainian descendents, Ukrainian sites and events, and of course, perogies. No visit to Winnipeg would be complete without a stop at The Forks, Winnipeg's number one tourist destination, national historic site, and activity filled city hot spot. Enjoy the perogy combo with sausages or soup at Yudyta's, while you take in the bustling ambiance of The Forks Market. Stay in the downtown area, continuing on to Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre, one of North America's largest and most unique Ukrainian cultural and heritage resource centres maintaining an archive, art gallery, library, museum, and gift boutique. Pick up an embroidered souvenir then head to the city's North End. Take a walking tour down Selkirk Avenue—one of Winnipeg's original ethnic neighbourhoods that has retained its architecture, small businesses and diverse multicultural people. It's also the grocery shopping area for Winnipeg's eastern European immigrants. Marvel at the myriad versions of sausages hanging on wooden dowels at the butcher shops and jostle tiny Ukrainian babas (grandmothers) in a battle for the last ring of garlic kielbasa (sausage). Chances are you will lose and be left hankering for some home-style Ukrainian cooking. Winnipeg perogy hot spots include Jessie's Kitchen, Luda's Deli and Mom's Perogy Factory. Looking for something a little more upscale? Savour perogies delicately dressed in white truffle oil, duck sausage and walnut cream sauce at fusion grill on Academy Road.
Check out classic examples of Ukrainian architecture such as St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church on Jefferson Avenue, which houses the shrine and relics (mortal remains) of the Ukrainian Catholic martyr, Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky, beatified by Pope John Paul II. After paying your respects, head over to McGregor Avenue to the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga. This impressive Byzantine church adds an exotic touch to the heart of Winnipeg with its stained glass windows and exterior mosaics depicting the history of Ukraine, designed by celebrated Winnipeg artist Leo Mol. Nearby on Bannerman Avenue is St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, a contemporary adaptation of traditional Byzantine-Ukrainian architecture that displays brilliant stained-glass windows and a large mosaic of Christ on the façade. Pritchard Avenue is home to a recently designated national historic site—Winnipeg's Ukrainian Labor Temple, the first and still the largest of its kind in Canada. Built in 1918-1919, this neoclassical building continues to function as the national headquarters for the Workers Benevolent Association, established here in 1922. On Main Street, the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral features a Ukrainian Baroque architectural style with an exterior mosaic also by Leo Mol, along with a carved icon screenwall, stained glass windows and religious icons.Winnipeg Perogy Planner:
- The Forks: www.theforks.com
- Yudyta's Ukrainian Food (The Forks Market): (204) 942-7228
- Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre: www.oseredok.org
- Jessie's Kitchen: (204) 661-3332
- Luda's Deli: (204) 589-2583
- Mom's Perogy Factory: (204) 334-6166
- fusion grill: www.fusiongrill.mb.ca
- St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church: www.bvmartyrshrine.com
- Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga: (204) 589-5025
- St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church: www.stnicholaschurch.ca
- Ukrainian Labour Temple: (204) 582-9269
- Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral: (204) 582-1018
- Holy Eucharist Parish: www.heucc.wordpress.com/perogies/
- St. Ivan Suchavsky Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral - Perogy Hotline: (204) 942-1991
- Perogy Supper Listings - Travel Manitoba: www.travelmanitoba.com
- Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus: www.hoosli.com
- Troyanda: www.troyanda.com
- Razom: www.rusalka.mb.ca
Nestled in the heart of the Parkland region bordered by Riding Mountain National Park and the Duck Mountains, about a three to four hour drive northwest of Winnipeg, is a perogy-riddled area dotted with landmarks and small towns with deep Ukrainian roots. The great wave of Ukrainian immigration to Manitoba between 1896 and 1914 brought new ways of life and architectural forms to the Prairies. Dauphin is home to Canada's National Ukrainian Festival held every August, but you'll still find Ukrainian comfort food and a host of other Ukrainian-related activities all year round. Spend a day or two exploring the countryside and expansive golden fields of wheat and canola, making Ukrainian-themed pit stops along the way. Most sites have regular summer hours, but are also open by appointment if you call ahead. Before travelling back into local history, fuel up with a Spicy Perogy Pizza at Boston Pizza in Dauphin. Sample this creative combination of smoky bacon and spicy potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese, green onions and a dollop of sour cream.
A short drive north of Dauphin, in the small town of Gilbert Plains, is the Wasyl Negrych Pioneer Homestead. Recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, it is one of the most impressive folk sites in North America, containing the oldest known Ukrainian-style house in Manitoba and the most complete set of period farmyard buildings in the province. Constructed in 1899, ten original log buildings remain. The 1908 bunkhouse contains a rare example of a traditional Ukrainian clay bake-oven, and is the only known structure to feature a long-shingle wooden roof.
Take a pilgrimage 30 km north of Gilbert Plains to the tiny hamlet of Trembowla. The Trembowla Cross of Freedom Historic Site and Museum marks the first Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy held in Canada in 1897, and St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church is preserved as the oldest in Canada. A monument of the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Nykyta Budka, a grotto, pioneer home, Trembowla school, and other historic buildings and plaques are also on site.
South of Dauphin, as you climb the Manitoba Escarpment, is Riding Mountain National Park. Visit St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church to see a rare example of a domed Ukrainian church constructed of logs or work off some of those perogies by embarking on the “Biking, Back Roads and Buddas Tour," a self-guided tour taken by bike (or car). Choose the 25, 40 or 75 km circuit, all starting and ending in the community of Olha. The area to be explored lies between Asessippi Provincial Park and Riding Mountain National Park, and most of the route follows maintained gravel roads with low traffic volumes. The tour focuses on the history of Ukrainian settlement in the region and features several settlement-related sites in close proximity. Suggested stops include: St. John Cantius Roman Catholic Church, St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ukrainian Pioneer Dwelling (Buddas), and a Ukrainian Settlement Monument.Northwestern Manitoba Perogy Planner:
- City of Dauphin: www.dauphin.ca
- Boston Pizza: www.bostonpizza.com
- Wasyl Negrych Pioneer Homestead: email@example.com, 204-548-2326
- Trembowla Cross of Freedom Historic Site and Museum: (204) 638-9641 / (204) 638-4609
- Riding Mountain National Park: www.pc.gc.ca/riding
- St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church: www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/index.html, (204) 945-8755
- Biking, Back Roads and Buddas Tour: www.valleylands.ca
Pack up a Ukrainian inspired picnic of local Bothwell cheese, fresh KUB rye bread, sausage and pickles, and take a day trip through southeastern Manitoba. The area around the RM of Stuartburn was first opened to homesteading in 1896 and most of the early settlers were of Ukrainian decent. This ethnic heritage is still very much apparent in small community towns like Tolstoi, Gardenton, Sundown, Vita, and Caliento.
First stop en-route is The Country Perogy Shop in nearby Kleefeld, a community favourite. Watch the owners create their specialty in full view, making each perogy by hand and sourcing delicious, local ingredients whenever possible. Along with the classic potato and cheese fillings, try adventurous flavours like pizza and Mexican. All products are pre-cooked and frozen, making them easy to take with you to enjoy later.
Hit the highway again and head south to discover a perfect place for your hearty picnic. Work up an appetite with an easy stroll amid the beauty of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. Over 2,000 hectares of tall grass prairie are protected within this preserve near Tolstoi and Gardenton. Much of the land was originally settled in 1896 by pioneers from Bukovinia in western Ukraine.
After lunch, make your way back in time with a stop in Gardenton at the Ukrainian Museum and Village to experience what life was like in an early Ukrainian settlement. Peruse exhibits of the churches of the area, artifacts consisting of clothing, small hand tools, a one-room school, and a thatched roof clay house. Near the small town of Sundown, the St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Bell Tower and Cemetery is an excellent example of a modest Ukrainian Church that pioneers erected in Manitoba. Construction began in 1908 with the colourful interior completed in 1910. The cemetery is dotted with the distinctive tall white crosses of the Orthodox faith and a log bell tower of traditional design and construction.
Plan to make your trip in early fall to catch one of the dozens of traditional community-based fowl (or fall) suppers—buffet feasts of down-home cooking. Communities with Ukrainian ethnic heritage typically offer up a wall-to-wall smorgasbord of classics like borscht, cabbage rolls, perishky, and meatballs and gravy, alongside the perogies, of course.Southeastern Manitoba Perogy Planner:
- Bothwell Cheese: www.bothwellcheese.com
- The Country Perogy Shop: www.countryperogy.ca
- Tall Grass Prairie Preserve: www.manitobanature.ca
- Ukrainian Museum and Village: (204) 425-3072 / (204) 425-3501
- St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Bell Tower and Cemetery: www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/index.html, (204) 945-8755
- Fall supper listings - Travel Manitoba: www.travelmanitoba.com