The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary in Surrey, BC is part of Surrey’s heritage, and is one of the most significant cultural landmarks in the area. After the Second World War immigration from war-torn Europe increased, creating a culturally diverse community in Whalley, a part of Surrey.
The land was purchased on February 11, 1947 from farmer Bruce Burroughs for $700. The Ukrainian community raised $3,500 to cover the cost of the building materials and donated their labour to complete the building in 1955. The Church’s traditional onion-domed silhouette and round-arched windows reflect the architectural traditions of Eastern Europe. The original stucco building was re-clad with vinyl siding in 1984.
Bessie Bonar designed the Church using only a photograph as a guide. Construction was supervised by Bessie’s father Bill Moskaluk, and Steve Nassar. Andy Moleschi designed the crosses on top of the cupolas. These contributions speak to the strong spirit of community in the area. The grounds surrounding the Church feature attractive ornamental plantings and are enclosed by a decorative fence. The interior features a spectacular Iconostas (icon screen), hand-carved by Karpo Weremchuk, who was 85-years old at the time. The screen took two years to carve and was completed in 1958.
In 1962 the congregation turned the sod for the construction of a hall beside the Church. It was opened in 1964. The hall hosts a variety of dances, community dinners, bazaars, concerts and craft workshops. Funds raised through these endeavours contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the historic Church.
St. Mary’s provides a physical symbol of the Ukrainian community and it is valued for its active contribution to the life and cultural character of the community. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary was added to Surrey’s heritage register in 1998. This status recognizes the heritage value of the building.
Today, our parishioners still dedicate their time and energy in supporting St. Mary’s . It is through their support that allow us to continue the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary.