In order to write the history of Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Church at Cawaja Beach, one has to start with the first Ukrainian settlements not only at Cawaja Beach, but settlements on the Netawasaga from Wasaga Beach to Concession 18. History has it that the first active and entreprenurial settler was Ivan Bokhnevych. He worked at the “Massey Ferguson” plant. At that time the earnings were impressive, and he called many other Ukrainians to work at the plant. Consequently, they purchased lots in the Wasaga Beach area, and later built summer cottages.
Ivan Bokhnevych – a native of the Lemkivshchyna region, was also active in the Canadian Lemko organization. He invited them to the Cawaja Beach area as well. Thus the community grew and developed. In time it became a resort for holidays. Many priests visited there, among them Rev. O. Zolkewych, and Rev. I. Mykytyn. They celebrated Sunday Liturgy in the fields. Soon after discussion started about building a Ukrainian church for the Cawaja Beach community.
It started in the 1970’s when our famous businessmen Mr. M. Gerus and Mr. M. Dejnega bought up farmland at Cawaja. Mr. Gerus offered to donate land for a church as soon as a zoning change was approved. In 1985-1986 it was finally approved. Mr. Gerus subdivided the farm into lots, built roads, and donated two lots for a church. He also undertook the organization of the building committee and called B. Kramarchuk, M. Bilchak, F. Radecky and I. Malaniuk to assist him in this project. In the meantime, during summer, Sunday masses were celebrated usually by Rev. J. Lewycky and attended by about 100 persons. It was usually followed by discussions of the building project.
During one such Sunday discussion the question of Chapel versus Church had been discussed and voted on. The vote was overwhelming in favour of erecting a church. Mr. Gerus invited architect I. Stecura to propose a Hutsul-style wooden church.
The next step was getting a fundraising campaign into gear! In the meantime Mr. Gerus approached “Four Seasons” a prefab company, and ordered material for the church. The cost, excluding the roof was estimated to cost $75,000. The foundation and septic tank was contracted out at a cost of $36,000. The Church dome was contracted out to T. Haras from St. Catherines, and the electrical work was to be done by S. Holyk. The assembly of the prefabricated church building would be done by all the residents.
Fundraising started out very slowly. When it was time to pay “Four Seasons” Mr. Gerus extended a loan of $90,000. However, as work progressed enthusiasm and excitement grew with it. The treasurer, accompanied by either Mr. Gerus or Mr. Bokhnevych went from cottage to cottage to collect funds. Sadly, the people who could have made significant con-tributions were less cooperative with the exception of Mr. Hrabovsky who donated $2,000.
The community construction force was headed by Mr. Fred Radecky and assisted by I. Rozylo, J. Wojtowych, J. Malanink, I. Bokhnevych, M. Bilchak, D. Smochylo, F. Halushka, M. Maryn, M. Tarapacky, M. Vitiuk, V. Butkevych, V. Kalenij, M. Zholkevych, I. Burda, F. Kopestynsky, M. Vatral, V. Kalynin, R. Dankevych, M. Gerus and others. Mr. M. Karpynec completed the plumbing and P. Ohorodnyk offered to build the tabernacle. I apologize if I inadvertedly overlooked someone. In general, cooperation and dedication of the community was impressive. Our goal was to com-plete the roof and erect the dome before winter stepped in.
With a little additional help our goal was achieved – our church was ready by winter!
In the spring of 1989 we started work on the interior of the church. It proceeded quickly, and in July of that year Bishop I. Borecky with many priests concelebrating, officially blessed our church Sts. Volodymyr & Olha at Cawaja Beach.
Celebrations continued with an elaborate banquet in Midland. Among the guests were the “Zoloti Kluchi” (“Gold Keys”) from Ukraine with the famous Nina Matvienko and her husband in attendance.
5 Brook Avenue
Tiny, Ontario, L0L 2L0
Sunday Divine Liturgy:
2nd Sunday of each month: 9:00am
All remaining Sundays: 11:30am