Kalyna Country in East Central Alberta is the region to the east of Elk Island National Park on either side of the North Saskatchewan River. The region marked by its history of Austrian, Polish, Romanian, and especially Ukrainian settlement and immigration. Here one is "behind the garlic curtain" in the "borshch belt" of Canada. This is the region where the first Ukrainians settled in Canada in 1892, followed by thousands of others.
The name kalyna ("kah-LIN-ah") in Ukrainian refers to the"low bush cranberry", a popular local wild fruit and close cousin of Ukraine's national floral emblem, the guelder rose.
This region is a self-declared "eco-museum", established in 1991 on the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ukrainians in Canada, that seeks to preserve and showcase the local, predominately Ukrainian, culture of the region. The goal was to make Kalyna County the recognized "heartland" of Ukrainian-Canadian culture, just as Acadiana is for Cajuns. The eco-museum trust defines the core of Kalyna Country as Thorhild County, St. Paul County, Lamont County, Two Hills County, Minburn County, Beaver County and all the towns, villages, Indian reservations, Métis settlements within and sometimes also includes listings on their website from neighbouring regions such as Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, Vermillion River Country, the Municipal District of Wainwright, Westlock County (or about 20,000 km² in size). This guide will only list accommodations and attractions in the core regions (minus St. Paul County), but much of the description of the landscape and culture is equally applicable to the Lakeland to the northeast.
Kalyna Country is mostly made up of very small towns and villages, strung along the rail lines that once were the lifelines of the Prairies, as well as vast open fields between the train tracks with people living on isolated "homesteads" (farms). However with the consolidation of farms, and lure of oil-and-gas jobs in cities like Edmonton, the on-farm population is becoming smaller with each generation. In most cases, there aren't enough people left to use and maintain the historic houses, churches, community halls, and businesses built during region's settlement in the 1892-1914 era, or the prosperous 1920s. Sadly, much of the interesting built heritage had been abandoned or ruined, with a few examples saved at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, an open-air museum. As far as intangible culture, a few Ukrainian traditions live on, or have been transformed in entertainment, for example stage dancing at the annual Pysanka Festival in Vegreville.
Of course, the Ukrainians were not the first to the region, and there is also a large Indigenous and French-speaking presence, from the First Nations ("Indian"), Métis ("mixed" First Nation-European), and French-Canadian cultures.
- Kalyna Country Eco-Museum Trust, toll-free: . Call the toll-free line for travel information.
Only a private automobile can get you around this region, except once per year when the eco-museum trust puts on a coach tour.
- 1 Basilian Fathers Museum, 5419 Sawchuk St, Mundare, AB. Dedicated to the order of Ukrainian monks who came to Canada to serve as priests to the Ukrianian population when the Roman Catholic hierarchy wouldn't allow any married Eastern Catholic priests in Canada. Also has good general information on Ukrainian culture and immigration to Canada.
- 2 Victoria Settlement (Victoria District National Historic Site of Canada, Pakan) (10 km south of Smoky Lake on Hwy 855). A living-history museum showing the fur trade post of Fort Victoria and the settlement that grew up around it.
- 3 Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Highway 16 (25 minutes east of Edmonton, and 3 km east of the National Park entrance), ☏ . Daily May long weekend to Labour Day (early Sep): 10AM–5PM. This award-winning provincial historic site showcases Ukrainian settlement in East Central Alberta. There are over 30 historic buildings including three churches, a fully-functioning grain elevator, blacksmith shop, and sod hut, all enlivened by costumed interpreters. Weekends are busier, however the crowds can be worth it with more interpreters on hand and often more things going on. Adult (18-64) $15, senior (65+) $13, youth (7-17) $10, child (0-6) free, Canadian military and family (with CFOne card) free, Family (2 adults + youths, maximum of 8 people) $40.
- 4 Métis Crossing, 17339 Victoria Trail (immediately west of Victoria Settlement), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A Métis Nation-owned-and-operated historic site, campground, and rental venue. Includes 21 campsites with electrical hookups, 20 tenting sites, firewood & showers, guided site tours, picnic facilities and RV parking.
- 5 Beaverhill Lake (Beaverhill Natural Area), Township Rd 510, Tofield, AB T0B 4J0. The extensive shoreline and variety of marshes, fields and aspen woods adjoining the lake provide a wide range of habitats. Beaverhill Lake is especially known for the diversity of its bird species. It's site of the Beaverhill Lake Bird Observatory, with bird-banding operations since the 1980s.
- Self-driving church tour, various places in Lamont County. [Download the tour map https://files.townlife.com/public/uploads/documents/12997/churchtourbooklet.05.pdf] or get a paper copy from the county office in the town of Lamont. The county is home to 40 historic churches, the most per capita in North America, and therefore claims the title Church Capital of North America. Buildings from Ukrainian Catholic, Roman Catholic, United (Presbyterian-Methodist), Ukrainian Orthodox, Orthodox Church of America, Russo-Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Moravian, and Pentacostal churches are included.
The Kylna Country Trust website lists 62 lakes and ponds that have game fish in them, as well as 25 golf courses.
- 1 Vilna Poolhall and Barbershop, Main Street, ☏ . Alberta's oldest fully restored barbershop and pool hall.
- Beaverhill Sporting Clays, ☏ . Shotgun-only gun range with 20 station walk-through course plus trap and skeet field.
Farmers' markets are found at:
- Andrew – Andrew Arena. Apr-Oct: Sa 1-4PM. ☏
- Fort Saskatchewan – CN Station (parking lot). Jul-Sep: Th 4:30-6:30PM. ☏ .
- Gibbons – Gibbons Curling Rink, July-Sep: Th 6:30-8:30PM. ☏ .
- Innisfree – Senior’s Citizens Hall 1st & 3rd W 10:30AM-12:30 PM. April-Dec. ☏ .
- Long Lake Provincial Park – Day Use Area II off Hwy. 831 (S of Boyle) Jun-Aug: Sa 11AM-2PM. ☏ .
- Mannville – Recreation Centre. Year-round: Sa 10AM-2PM. ☏ .
- Morinville – Library, 10119-100 Ave. Jun-Sep: F noon-6PM. ☏ .
- Redwater – Pioneer Club. Jun-Sep: Th 4-7PM. ☏ .
- Sherwood Park
- Festival Place, 100 Festival Way (parking lot). May-Oct: W 5-8PM. ☏ .
- Baseline Farmers’ Market, 390 Baseline Rd. (in the Home Depot parking lot). May-Sep: W 4-8PM. ☏ .
- County Market, 100 Ordze Ave. (Chamber of Commerce). July-Sep: Sa 10AM–3PM. ☏ .
- Smoky Lake – Agricultural Complex, April-Dec: Sa 10AM-noon. ☏ .
- St. Albert – St. Anne & St. Thomas Streets from July-Sept. At St. Albert Place & 55 St. Anne Street. Oct-Dec: Sa 10AM-3PM. ☏ .
- Tofield – Community Hall Main Street. April– Dec 2nd & 4th F, Feb Mar Dec: second F 2-5PM. No Market in Jan. ☏ .
- Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village – Hwy 16. Weekends & special events May-Sep: 10AM–6PM. ☏ .
- Vegreville – Elks Hall, 5002 – 55th Ave. Mar-Dec: F 8-11:30AM. ☏ .
- Vermilion – Elks Hall, 5018 – 49 Ave. Mar-Dec: Tu 10AM–1PM. ☏ .
- Viking – Community Hall, May-Dec: Th 2-4:30PM. ☏ .
- Vilna Country Market – Arena Complex, Main Street. May-Sep: Sa 1-3PM. Special Sales April 8, June 3. ☏ .
- Wainwright – Prairie Rose Farmers’ Market – 731 – 2 Ave. First Saturday of each month Mar-Dec: 10AM– 1PM. ☏ .
- Westlock – Bargain Shop Mall – 10211 – 100 St. Every F 11AM– 3PM. ☏ .
- 1 Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery (En Santé Winery) (north of Two Hills on Hwy 36 to Twp Road 564, turn east to Rge Road 115), ☏ , ✉ info@BirdsAndBeesWinery.com. Alberta’s very first (and still only) organic fruit cottage winery. Birds & Bees may be the northernmost organic fruit orchard and winery and meadery in the world.
The Kalyna Country website lists more than 80 campgrounds and RV parks in the region. Hotels can be found in Lamont, Vegreville, St. Paul, Bonnyville, Fort Saskatchewan, and Sherwood Park.
Over 90% of towns and villages in Alberta have a public library with internet access. Examples in Kalyna Country include Vegreville, St. Paul, Mundare, and Lamont.
For more rural Ukrainian-Canadian settlements see Alberta's Peace Country, Central Saskatchewan, and the Prairie Mountain and Interlake regions of Manitoba. For Ukrainian-Canadian culture in an urban context, try (in declining order of the community's size) Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg, or Saskatoon.
For other ethnic enclaves in Alberta, try the Scandinavian regions near Camrose and Red Deer, the French-Canadians in the Peace Country, the St. Albert-Morinville area, and in the Bonnyville-St. Paul area, or the Mormons in Southern Alberta.
|Routes through Kalyna Country|
|Edmonton ← Elk Island National Park ←||W E||→ Vegreville → Lloydminster|
|Edmonton ← Fort Saskatchewan ←||W E||→ ENDS at|
|Edmonton ← Jct N ←||W E||→ Bonnyville → Cold Lake|
|ENDS at ←||W E||→ St. Paul → Elk Point|
|END ← Lac La Biche ←||N S||→ Hanna → Taber|
|ENDS at ←||W E||→ Jct S → becomes → Shellbrook → Prince Albert|