Legacy of Worship

30 March 2016

Legacy of Worship: Sacred Places in Rural Saskatchewan
by Margaret Hryniuk and Frank Korvemaker
Photography by Larry Easton
Published by Coteau Books
Review by Keith Foster
$39.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-597-9

It was the happiest of times; it was the saddest of times. It was a time for weddings, and a time for funerals. Whether celebrating the best days of their lives, or enduring the worst, people in rural Saskatchewan gathered at their churches to share their joy or to find solace from their sorrows.

With these thoughts in mind, Margaret Hryniuk and Frank Korvemaker bring flesh and blood to their stories in Legacy of Worship: Sacred Places in Rural Saskatchewan, a book they co-researched and co-authored.

With limited space in this 251-page book, churches selected were restricted to rural areas, not cities or towns. Even at that, many worthy structures had to be left out. The churches chosen were those of historical and/or architectural importance, with many recorded as national historic sites.

Church structures come in all shapes, sizes, and denominations. Some are not buildings at all. Indigenous sacred places, for instance, consisted of medicine wheels, effigies, rock carvings, and pictographs.

This book features some of Saskatchewan’s most prominent and well known churches, such as Holy Trinity Church at Stanley Mission, the oldest church in the province; All Saints Anglican Church at Cannington Manor; and Saint Nicholas Church near Craven, probably the most photographed church in Saskatchewan, if not in all of Canada.

Many of the churches are not well known. Shiloh Baptist Church near Maidstone was home to a contingent of African-Americans from the American South. Aside from a small cross at the top of its roof, Holy Ascension Orthodox Church near Veregin looks like nothing more than a large shed or garage. Yet both are examples of the very few churches in Saskatchewan made of logs.

This book abounds with diversity, including Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral at Muenster, Saint Elia Ukrainian Orthodox Church near Wroxton, the Veregin Prayer Home at Veregin, home to the Doukhobors or “Spirit Wrestlers,” and Horse Lake Mennonite Church near Duck Lake, among many others.

Legacy of Worship contains hundreds of photos in vivid colour, often supplemented by black and white archival images. They were provided primarily by Larry Easton, accompanied by his wife Dorothy, Frank Korvemaker, the Saskatchewan Archives Board, and other historical sources. Even the glossary of architectural terms is illustrated with photos, so readers can see precisely what each term refers to.

Particularly striking are photos of church interiors, such as Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Co-Cathedral at Gravelbourg. Interiors, especially those with stained-glass windows, are usually far more impressive than exteriors, and people just driving by will have no idea of the beauty within.

The stories by Hryniuk and Korvemaker bring the churches to life, and Easton’s photos bring life to the churches. Legacy of Worship: Sacred Places in Rural Saskatchewan deserves a place on every coffee table in Saskatchewan.


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