10628 – 96 Street, Edmonton
Economic exploitation and insecurity attracted many Ukrainians first to socialism, and after 1918, the pro-communist Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association which combined ideological, cultural and educational programming. In 1932 its premises served as headquarters for the Edmonton Hunger March, organized to secure help for Albertans hurt by the Great Depression.
A number of influential Ukrainians in early 20th-century Edmonton held socialist views and strove to mobilize Ukrainian workers in the city and throughout the province (especially in mining centres such as the Crowsnest Pass) around these principles. Following Bolshevik success in Russia, the pro-Soviet, pro-communist Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) was organized across Canada to champion the cause of the exploited and less fortunate. The Edmonton branch hall built on 96 Street in 1921 served as the centre of community life for members and sympathizers for some two decades. Its activities, targeting both youth and adults, included political education, literacy classes, Sunday concerts and plays, and projects involving the homeland. In the 1930s the popular mandolin orchestra performed on radio with donations from appreciative Ukrainian listeners across Alberta, despite the difficult times, keeping the program on air. During the Great Depression, the ULFTA opened its doors to the homeless and unemployed, providing food and shelter regardless of ethnic origin and whether or not they lived in the city or were riding the rails and just passing through. For a few tumultuous days in December 1932, the hall also acted as the headquarters for the Edmonton Hunger March that attracted not only suffering city residents, but also thousands of outlying workers and farmers who demanded that Premier John Brownlee address their plight. When the 13,000 marchers were ordered to stop en route to the legislature and refused, the police intervened, sparking a violent confrontation. The ULFTA premises were searched twice for arms and ammunition (none were found) and a handful of members were arrested. In the initial stages of the Second World War, before the USSR became Canada’s ally, Ottawa banned the ULFTA and seized its properties nation-wide. In Edmonton the organization’s postwar successor, the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, maintained the Ukrainian Centre on 97 Street.