The Ukrainian Labour Temple is a beautiful building with a vibrant history. Built in 1919, it was a community and cultural meeting place as well as a symbol of social optimism and opportunity.
Showing off the Ukrainian Labour Temple
For about five years now I have been conducting 1919 General Strike tours. I always start at the Ukrainian Labour Temple (ULT) in Winnipeg’s famous (some think infamous) north end. More recently I have been doing more extensive tours of the building for the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, the custodians of the Labour Temple.
Every time I meet a new group I find so many are surprised that the ULT exists. And at the end of the tours I consistently find the participants leave with not only a base knowledge but a passion and respect for the building and what it stands for.
Each tour starts with the basics of when, why and how the building was constructed. As much as possible, I try to get the visitors to the ULT to imagine themselves taking part in these activities or attending any one of the many weddings, socials or funerals that took place here. Young people especially are able to bridge the time gap and see either parallels in their lives today or the differences.
Being in this huge beautiful building helps make real the story of Ukrainian immigrants, their struggles and what they are contributing to Canada. Standing in the middle of the building, hearing the echo, smelling the dust, touching the building stimulates their imagination. Then when I go into the history of how the building was built, when I relate some of the ghost stories or put names to some of the people involved there is an instant empathy and in some cases sympathy with those who are the driving force of the AUUC today.
When we leave the ULT I hear so many comments about how participants will now think of the building, the people and the purpose of social organizations. More important, participants look at social issues of today and see the parallels in what happened 100 years ago to today and where the modern counterparts are to the ULT. At this point, participants see that the ULT is also a symbol for all immigrants and an inspiration for all Canadians. I think it is a safe assumption that when tour participants find themselves in discussions of Winnipeg’s history among family, friends and colleagues, we will have informed and sensitized allies.
Tours can be arranged at almost any time by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org