A Taste of the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Ukrainians brought red fife wheat to Canada and with it they made one of their gastronomic gifts to the world – perogies (which they pronounce perohay). At the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village near Edmonton, Alberta, I learned to make these delicious little dumplings.

After all, food is the best way to learn about people. And a lesson in making perogies (also called pyrohy or varenyky ) is enlightening.

I made two of these little handmade dumplings in the same time my teacher could made a dozen! It’s still hard work and made me appreciate them all the more.

My perogie – before and after!

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, a living history museum, complete with costumed interpreters, offers a glimpse into the world of the first pioneers from this community who arrived in 1892.

They arrived in large groups and settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930. For $10, the government gave them 10 acres of land which they were required to clear and on which they had to build living quarters.

The first homes were burdei , a sod dwelling rather like a dugout which featured a living roof.

Inside was the bed, an oven for baking and most importantly, a stone mill for grinding that wheat into flour. It’s a tough job as I discovered!

Later more permanent homes were built with a “Big Room” for family and entertaining. The walls are adorned with beautiful hand-woven cloth and photos of the saints, and the ceilings hung with dried flowers and herbs, often blessed by the church.

Their faith was important. At the Village, three churches represent the three main religious groups: Ukrainian Catholics, Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. Services are still occasionally held in this one – Ukrainian Orthodox.

The Hilliard Hotel was the first building to have indoor plumbing. Beer was 5 cents and a bed could be had for $1 per night. But card games weren’t permitted. The only entertainment was the found in the pool hall, which also sold alcohol.

A horse and buggy is a wonderful way to explore the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, though it’s a great place for enthusiastic walkers….there’s so much to see here.

But I believe the best way to explore a culture is through its food. And what’s better than a Ukrainian feast ?

On this small plate: pyrohy (perogies) with sour cream and fried onions, cucumber salad, Koubasa (sausage), and Holubtsi (cabbage rolls).

Yum!!

Surprising Toronto

Toronto's spectacular skyline seen from the deck of the Oriole.

Toronto’s spectacular skyline seen from the deck of the Oriole.

Ask me how to spend a day in Toronto and I’d probably direct you to the Royal Ontario Museum, or the Ontario Science Centre, or the Art Gallery of Ontario. But I spent a day almost entirely outdoors doing some really cool things, all in the GTA. Continue reading

This is How Canadians Do Winter!

The lake is frozen but the welcome is warm at Viamede Resort.

The lake is frozen but the welcome is warm at Viamede Resort.

Let’s face it. Winter in Canada is all about the cold. There’s nothing growing in the garden, the lakes are frozen, and the gloves are on. But Canadians know how to make the best of winter. Continue reading

The Call of the Wild – Algonquin Park

It's not hard to see why a lone jack pine like this one inspired Tom Thomson.

It’s not hard to see why a lone jack pine like this one inspired Tom Thomson.

In the pitch dark of an Algonquin Park night, a small light cuts the gloom. A park naturalist is collecting newly hatched turtles to protect them from predators. Further up the path, we had seen the destroyed leathery shells discarded after a hungry raccoon or fox had dug them up. He hopes to save these.

pRK naturalist turtles s

We’ve hiked out into the wilderness to see if we could entice the wolves to howl. I’d like to tell you they did, but they refused to answer our guide’s call. Happening upon this little drama is the consolation prize for their lack of response. Continue reading

Elvis Lives in Tweed Ontario

Elvis scs1An Englishman is the ultimate Elvis? The King would have turned over in his grave!

Surely only a southern boy with the grime of the delta and the rhythms of gospel ingrained in his soul could possibly be the definitive Elvis?

Gordon Hendricks s

But the winner at Tweed’s Tribute to Elvis Festival 2013 was 42-year-old Gordon Hendricks from Stoke-on-Trent in England, who looks a lot better than Elvis did at the same age. From the moment he steps on the stage, he is transformed into the youthful version of The King. Continue reading