December 1, 2000
Kalyna Country Enjoys a Banner Year
The Kalyna Country Ecomuseum, now in its ninth year of existence, has enjoyed a banner year and is well-positioned to take full advantage of Albertas booming economy.
Established in 1992 on the initiative of the Alberta Historic Sites and Archives Service and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, the ecomuseum has been working to preserve the multifaceted and multicultural heritage of Canadas oldest and largest Ukrainian bloc settlement, situated in the countryside north and east of Edmonton. An integral part of the ecomuseums conservation strategy involves promoting Kalyna Country as an ecotourism destination, which is now starting to pay dividends after several years of innovative marketing campaigns.
The millennium year saw Kalyna Country solidify and enlarge its base of community support, and lay a solid foundation for future growth. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the federal Ministry of Canadian Heritage, the ecomuseum was able to expand some its research initiatives while enhancing its administrative effectiveness. Whereas the former is important for educational and interpretive purposes, the latter is crucial if Kalyna Country is going to meet the adminstrative demands increasingly being placed on the ecomuseum because of its success.
One major accomplishment was Kalyna Countrys involvement in the production of an illustrated guide book to Lamont Countys historic churches. Kalyna Country is keen to see a large sampling of the wealth of Ukrainian churches in east central Alberta maintained and promoted in a similar way to the Spanish missions that are such popular tourist attractions in the American Southwest. Among the more than 100 Eastern Rite churches scattered throughout the ecomuseums 15,000 square kilometer territory are the historic sanctuaries in the Star-Wostok cradle of the early Ukrainian colony, and numerous architectural gems that testify to the spiritual passion of turn-of-the century immigrants from Galicia and Bukovina.
The Kalyna Country Trust is also assisting with the relocation of a childhood home of the painter William Kurelek, and its development as a facility for an artist in residence programme. Born in the no-longer existent Whitford district, Kurelek spent the first seven years of his life in the Andrew-Willingdon area, and later returned to draw on his immigrant family roots during several painting trips. The ecomuseum has likewise spearheaded an interpretive project focussed on the North Victoria Trail, which was used by Indians, explorers and fur traders before Ukrainian pioneers followed the primitive road to get to their homesteads.
One the most obvious achievements of Kalyna Country has been its annual Visitors and Events Guide, a one-stop source of information on ecomuseum attractions, history, facilities and activities. Begun in 1997 as a twelve-page tabloid printed in a press run of 10,000 copies, the 30,000 copies produced of this years 96-page magazine proved insufficient to meet demand. The guide is providing an excellent vehicle for advertising local businesses, including bed & breakfasts, tea houses, specialty gift shops, u-pick berry farms, and restaurants that feature local cuisine ranging from pyrohy to buffalo burgers. A major new advertiser for the year 2001 is a recently established European-style country resort in the Waugh-Fedorah district just forty minutes north of Edmonton.
Another indication of the ecomuseums growing tourism profile are the thematic bus tours now being offered to different parts of Kalyna Country. These currently cater primarily to the Edmonton market, but over time will undoubtedly be accessed by long-haul visitors to Alberta. More information on Kalyna Country can be obtained from their website at www.kalynacountry.ab.ca; by calling 1-888-452-5962; or by writing Kalyna Country, c/o Box 756, Lamont, Alberta, T0B 2R0.
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