10215 - 97 Street, Edmonton
Operated continuously by the Ferbey family, the Ukrainian Book Store closed its doors in 2012 after just over a century serving Ukrainian immigrants, their descendants, and an international mail order and online clientele. It moved several times, always remaining in the downtown core, while a replica of the original store stands in Fort Edmonton Park.
It is something of an irony, that despite widespread illiteracy among Ukrainians coming to Canada before the First World War, bookstores soon appeared in the major centres where they settled. Operated by budding businessmen keen to provide a service to their countrymen, these stores sold not only reading materials, but also increasingly other goods (musical instruments, phonograph records, trinkets). They also acted as social and information centres where both city residents and homesteaders gathered to hear old-country news, exchange gossip, argue about politics and learn about Canada. The Ukrainian Book Store in Edmonton was established in 1910 by Mykhailo (Michael) Ferbey and was expanded after 1914 by his brother Dmytro (and wife Maria) who, after 47 years, passed ownership to his descendants. It moved several times, always remaining in the city core, and over the decades continued to attract new immigrants to Alberta and generations of Canadian-born Ukrainians who wanted embroidery, Easter egg supplies or dancing costumes as much as literature and history books. Such was the store’s reputation and the quality of its stock that it also conducted a thriving mail order business worldwide. One of few Edmonton businesses able to point to a century of service under the same family, the Ukrainian Book Store closed in 2012, the victim of changing Ukrainian tastes, even among newcomers, and online competition. Downtown redevelopment has claimed all but the last building that housed the Ukrainian Book Store; the space it occupied at its final location at 10215 - 97 Street currently stands empty. With much of the necessary money raised by the Ukrainian community, the original store has been recreated at Fort Edmonton Park in the Koermann Block on 1920 Street. Visitors can learn not only about the cultural interests of an earlier generation of Ukrainian-Edmontonians, but also buy contemporary Ukrainian souvenirs.