Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association

The Ukrainian Labour Temple, Regina. This building was used from 1918 to 1927. The Association moved into a new facility in 1928.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B8842

The Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) grew out of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (USDP) in May 1918 in Winnipeg, in response to a growing conservative reaction to the left-wing political activities in Canada that followed the Russian Revolution. The USDP leadership wanted to attract more members by broadening its activities into cultural, educational and humanitarian activities. They built a Labour Temple in Winnipeg with donations from members across the country, initiated a variety of cultural programs, and printed a national weekly, Ukrainian Labour News, to replace their banned paper, Working People.

The ULFTA quickly grew to have branches in many Ukrainian immigrant communities in Canada. It was the largest secular Ukrainian organization in the country until World War II. John Alexiewich traveled to the Ukrainian settlements in the province, building the organization. In Saskatchewan there were labour temples or branches in twenty-five communities. The organization was particularly attractive as it provided social and cultural activities to the isolated and lonely. It fought against discrimination and defended the rights of workers. Educational programs included literacy in the English and Ukrainian languages, as well as class politics. Orchestras as well as drama and dance groups kept old-country traditions alive. The Labour Temples were used for organizing labour actions such as the Winnipeg General Strike and the Bienfait “red” hall for the Miners’ Strike in 1931, and in Regina participated in the On-to-Ottawa Trek. The ULFTA, which had maintained contacts with the Soviet Union, was shut down by the RCMP in January 1940. Many of their leaders and journalists were imprisoned along with the Communist leadership, and their Labour Temples were confiscated on the basis of new sections to the Defense of Canada Regulations under the War Measures Act. The Labour Temples in Bienfait, North Battleford, Saskatoon, and Swift Current were sold by Custodian of Enemy Property between 1940 and 1943. In 1942 the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC) was created to replace the ULFTA. Urbanization, old age, assimilation and repression due to Cold War politics led to a shrinking membership. In Saskatchewan only the Regina branch remains and organizes the Poltava Ensemble of Song, Music, and Dance.

Bob Ivanochko

Further Reading

Hunchuk, S.H. 2001. “A House Like No Other: An Architectural and Social History of the Ukrainian Labour Temple, 523 Arlington Avenue, Ottawa, 1923–1967.” MA thesis, Carleton University; Krawchuk, P. 1996. Our History: The Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Movement in Canada, 1907–1991. Toronto: Lugus.