Brownstein: Little Ukraine? To Montreal? You bet

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“I almost feel like I’m back in Kiev when I’m here,” says Galina Lykhoshva, who offers tours of Montreal’s Little Ukraine.

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Galina Lykhoshva notes that some may mistake the design of the park’s striking metal arches for something sinister, perhaps a structure leading up to a Siberian gulag.

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“But that’s not the case at all,” Lykhoshva insists. “We see these arches as a tunnel of love.”

By “us” she refers to her Ukrainian compatriots.

Lykhoshva is touring Little Ukraine, an area roughly bordered by 8th and 13th Aves. and rue Bellechasse and rue Beaubien. in Rosemont — La Petite-Patrie.

The eye-catching metal arches can be found in Ukraine Park at the corner of Bellechasse and 12th Avenue.

It is with great pride that Lykhoshva points out that this is one of the few parks in the city bearing the name of a specific country: “I do not know of any park in Russia, Armenia or even in Russia. France. So this is really something.

Lykhoshva has only lived in Montreal for five years, but she probably knows some of the city’s lesser-known sites better than many native Montrealers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked as a guide at the Château Ramezay museum, but, always ingenious, she began offering tours of Little Ukraine and answering visitors’ questions in French, English, Ukrainian and Russian.

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“As an immigrant, you tend to look for an aspect of your home country in your new country,” she says. “In Montreal, I was surprised and happy to find so much – parks, schools, churches, shops, a retirement home, even a Ukrainian Caisse populaire and a funeral home that offers services in Ukrainian. in this sector.

It was Lykhoshva who nicknamed the region Little Ukraine. “And now it’s official,” she said.

“We see these arches as a tunnel of love.” Little Ukraine tour guide Galina Lykhoshva says. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

Lykhoshva is allied with the Professional Association of Montreal Tourist Guides (APGT), which offers tours specially designed for Montrealers to learn more about the history, architecture, social fabric, diversity and evolution of selected neighborhoods. In addition to Little Ukraine, certified guides also cover the Cité de Maisonneuve and Little Burgundy.

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“It has been too long for many of us tour guides to get back to work,” said Christian Robert, spokesperson for APGT. “We have therefore decided to be proactive this summer by focusing on the idea of ​​making Montrealers better aware of their city during tours or through videos on our social media platform. We just wanted to turn this horrific pandemic into something positive for the city. “

Back on the tour of Little Ukraine. Lykhoshva points out that about 1,300 people of Ukrainian origin live in this neighborhood, while Montreal has a population of nearly 18,000 Ukrainians. There are 33,000 people of Ukrainian descent in the province and 1.3 million in Canada.

“After Ukraine and Russia, Canada is said to have the third largest population of Ukrainians in the world,” said Lykhoshva, who is aware of the current state of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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Then we move on to the Ukrainian Orthodox Saint Sophia Cathedral and, one block away, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lykhoshva goes into the architectural details of both, paying special attention to Ukrainian influences.

There are 10 Ukrainian churches - including the Hagia Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Little Ukraine - in Montreal.
There are 10 Ukrainian churches – including the Hagia Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Little Ukraine – in Montreal. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

According to Lykhoshva, there are 10 Ukrainian churches – six Catholic and four Orthodox – in Montreal, including three in Rosemont — La Petite-Patrie. And Lykhoshva does not belong to any of them. But it’s a statue on the lawn in front of the Ukrainian Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary that catches his eye.

“It is dedicated to Grand Prince Vladimir the Great who Christianized the people of Kyivan Rus in 988. The economy flourished under him. It minted for the first time coins with the Ukrainian emblem, the Tryzub, and regulated foreign affairs with other countries. He was a saint to many, ”Lykhoshva says. “I almost feel like I’m back in Kiev when I’m here.

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We then cross a residential tree lined street with an upscale Ukrainian retirement home. “What’s really special about this residence is that it includes a charming Ukrainian mini-museum as well as a chapel,” Lykhoshva explains.

Then, head to the park on rue Beaubien which hosts the annual festival of Ukrainian culture. “There is nothing like it in the city – dancing, music, embroidered costumes, food and even Ukrainian beer,” Lykhoshva marvels.

Angel Zytynsky is the third generation to run Zytynsky's Deli in Montreal's Little Ukraine.
Angel Zytynsky is the third generation to run Zytynsky’s Deli in Montreal’s Little Ukraine. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

“Unfortunately, there are no Ukrainian restaurants in Montreal, but there is one of the best delicatessens.

It would be Zytynsky’s Deli, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. It houses… mmm… one of the most attractive homemade sausage counters and also sells everything from borscht to perogies. The delicatessen on rue Beaubien is run by the granddaughter of founder Michael, Angel Zytynsky.

“You don’t have to be Ukrainian to like this food,” Zytynsky says.

True that.

For more information on APGT Montreal tours, visit [email protected]

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twitter.com/billbrownstein

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