Belle Vue becomes the Ukrainian Village

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighteenth in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, most of which have been written by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

The blessing of the St. Nicholas Chapel and the opening of the Ukrainian Village at Belle Vue was celebrated on June 3, 1962. The Most Reverend Isadore Borecky, Bishop of Toronto and the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Eastern Canada celebrated the pontifical High Mass in the garden with the choir of St. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church, Windsor, providing the music.

Only a year before, the Ukrainian Church purchased the property and the congregation worked together to turn the property into their worship space. Belle Vue had sat empty for seven years since the closing of the Veterans’ Home.

The north end of the building held the commercial kitchen from the Veteran’s Home which was put to good use by the congregation for meals and making perogies for sale.

The room with the bay window on the right side of the building, became the chapel for the church. They added a small area at the back of the room for the chancel of the church. The original pioneer kitchen to the right of the room became the vestry where the priest would prepare for the service.

St. John the Baptist Church donated their old pews to the new chapel. Mr. Eugene Taskey decorated the sanctuary walls with charcoal murals which enhanced the beauty of the chapel. These pictures depicted St. Nicholas and scenes from Jesus Christ’s life.

As family members have recalled, Mr. Taskey was planning to paint the charcoal murals. When crossing the border from his home in Michigan with the paint, the customs officer refused him entry because he had no visa to work in Canada. Therefore, the murals remained as charcoal drawings.

For 41 years, the former Belle Vue was the Ukrainian Village and St. Nicholas Chapel for the Ukrainian people of Amherstburg. They were able to worship, and educate their children in their language, culture, history and traditions. Many people were married in the gardens and many groups held picnics there as well. The history of Belle Vue and the traditions of the Ukrainian community were appreciated together.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!

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