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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Father Philip Ruh: A missionary-architect among the Ukrainian people in Canada

By Ihor Cap
In his early life, he embraced the Ukrainian community in Canada so much so that in the end he saw himself as a Ukrainian and so did the Ukrainian community.

Source: Pioneers of Manitoba, 1970,
 by Robert Harvey
Father Philip Ruh was destined to do many great things, especially for the Ukrainian communities in Canada. Why a non-Ukrainian would give so much of himself to these communities is what makes this story even more intriguing. Be it fate or Divine Providence, but Father Ruh's story is an indelible chapter of missionary zeal in a foreign land and sacrifice to a people that he has come to love.  Father Ruh died in 1962. He lies buried next to one of the most beautiful churches that adorn Canada's prairies, The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Cook's Creek, Manitoba. The structure of this "Prairie Cathedral" (which incorporates traditional Ukrainian Kievan and Cossack Baroque styles as well as some elements of Roman, American Colonial and other Western design influences) was completed in 1938 and well advanced and rededicated in 1952. It is considered one of the finest Byzantine-style churches in Manitoba. It is a church that Father Ruh designed and where he served as pastor for thirty-two years. The church has come to be known as the "Ukrainian Lourdes" because it attracts many Ukrainian and foreign pilgrims who journey to the sacred Grotto and Calvary added here over the ensuing years. The monumental task of building a Calvary and Grotto adjacent to the church was started by Father Ruh in 1954 and was completed by the Knights of Columbus of the St. Josephat Council in 1970.  On May 1, 1986, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception of Cooks Creek was designated a Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site (No. 23) by the Honourable Judy Wasylycia-Leis, then Minister of Culture, Heritage and Recreation. This is not the only church the Very Reverend Philip Ruh, O.M.I. (1883-1962) designed. He was responsible for planning at least 30 Ukrainian Catholic churches in Canada, 13 of which survive in Manitoba. Reverend Ruh worked alongside his congregation at Cooks Creek in building this church, the largest of his remaining creations in Manitoba, notes the Provincial Government Heritage Web Site. ( )
The Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception of Cooks Creek

Biographical Sketch of Reverend Philip Ruh (Roux), O.M.I. (1883-1962)
Father Ruh: The Early Years
Father Philip Ruh was born in 1883, in a German-speaking village called Bickenholtz in Alsace-Lorraine then part of the German Empire (today France). His father was Nicholas Ruh (Ruh in German or Roux in French) and his mother was Mrs. Maria Ruh, née Marie Bouger (a.k.a. Marie Boucher).
Google Map of Related Area
In 1898, Father Ruh entered the juniorat Saint-Charles, Oblate Fathers preparatory school at Valkenburg, Holland , the Netherlands where he received his early education.  In 1903, he decided to pursue an additional year of studies with the Oblate Fathers to complete his novitiate of Saint-Gerlach, in Houthem Sint-Gerlach, Holland.  He studied various subjects, but mostly philosophy and theology, and made his vocation in August 15, 1904.  In 1905, he attended the old scolasticat (or seminary ) in Hünfeld (Huenfeld), Germany, near Fulda to pursue higher learning in architecture, astronomy, botany, and economics.  He made his private vows of obedience on a CatholicHoly Day of Obligation , the Assumption of Mary   (15 August 1907). This Holy Day is recognized by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on August 28 after the Julian calendar .  He was ordained into the order at Fulda , in 1910, and out of the 19 graduates that were ordained as priests, 2 had a special calling unlike that of Oblate missionaries before them. Father Ruh was one of them. He was to work with the Ukrainian people of which he knew nothing about.
Father Ruh in Ukraine

St. George's Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine
Although he was trained in the Latin rite, he adapted quite easily to the Byzantine Rite , and the Ukrainian culture. He learned to read and speak Ukrainian in Western Ukraine at the Grand Catholic Seminary near St. George's Cathedral in Lviv , Ukraine . Within six months he was able to hear confessions in Ukrainian. Not bad for someone who took lessons only twice a day. Father Ruh received one Ukrainian language lesson in the morning and one lesson in the evening. 

Buchach, Ukraine
It is here he came to learn about the Ukrainian people and their ways. His various projects in Buchach and confessor duties in the village of Horodnysti made him come to know and love the Ukrainians and they him. It was especially hard for him to leave them for missionary work among the Ukrainians in Canada.
Father Ruh in Canada
He bid farewell to his loved ones back home in Germany before departing to Canada. He arrived in Canada in 1913 on a German ship called the "Victorel". Then, it was thought to be the fastest ship around. It only took five days to travel. He had but a short sojourn in Winnipeg, and then was off to Edmonton. He fell ill with scarlet fever, and after his recovery was assigned to missionary work north of the North Saskatchewan River. He also served the Ukrainians in Alberta. This quickly grew to twelve parishes and some 500 families in various communities such as Stry, Radway, Valet, Cache Lake, Flat Lake, Downing, Bellis, Smokey Lake, Elderina, Cookville, Redwater, and Sunland. He even managed to build a few small chapels and churches as well as enlarging an orphanage in Edmonton and erecting a monastery in Mundare which was completed in 1921 for the Basilian Fathers. Such was the nature of his work from 1913 to 1923.
In the ensuing years, Father Ruh continued to work diligently constructing new Churches in new communities across the Canadian Prairies, until he was summoned to Cook's Creek, Manitoba, March 1, 1930.  Father Ruh became pastor of two very small churches in Manitoba: (1) the Church of St. Nicholas which later amalgamated with the Church of St. John the Baptist in Cook's Creek, and (2) St. Michael's Church in Tyndall.  Together, that comprised about 250 families which included travels to Portage La Prairie until another priest would be appointed in that community. That compelled him to immediately start building a new church made out of brick and stone that eventually came to be known as the "Prairie Cathedral".
The "Prairie Cathedral" in Cook's Creek, Manitoba

The Prairie Cathedral in Cook's Creek
Father Ruh (1984) remembered the construction of this new "Prairie Cathedral" as a long undertaking that was done on an intermittent basis as time and the availability of funds permitted. The 140x100ft basement was completed in 1930 before winter set in.  Some 5000 people were present for the cornerstone blessing that Bishop Wasilij Ladyka performed. After a brief sojourn to visit his aged mother in the Old Country, Father Ruh returned to the misery of the Canadian steppes that were beleaguered by drought and grasshopper infestation. The next three years were much the same. It forced the disadvantaged farmers to accept "relief" until 1938.  Money was scarce recalls Father Ruh (1984, p. 23-24) in his autobiography, but some 400 young men and women were available to continue work on the new church.  He recalls the experience this way:
"In 1934 we resumed building the church.  Each year it went a little higher. In 1938 we were able to place crosses on the nine domes. In 1940 the official opening of the new church took place.
From 1933 to 1940 services were held in the basement. Times were difficult but on the other hand, they were much happier than now. People used to get together to talk, to tell stories and tales from the past, and to sing joyful songs. Weddings took place in homes and not impersonal halls. Parents were happy among their children, and a priest among his parishioners.
It took from 1940-1952 to finish the project, inside and out. And in 1952 the grand consecration of the new church took place."
Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception Interior

Work on the big Grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception and the large Calvary which incorporates the twelve Stations of the Cross and death of Christ on Calvary commenced in 1954.  Father Ruh fondly referred to it as the "Ukrainian Lourdes"  While this effort tended to consume most of his energy, he nevertheless pressed on with design plans for many other churches. Some of them came to fruition the very same year, like the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church in East Kildonan, Manitoba.  Others were completed later. Father Ruh planned church designs, schools and other significant projects and structures that were successfully completed for Ukrainian communities in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Many remain undated, and still other church design plans never came to be used at all.
Grotto and Calvary at Cook's Creek, Manitoba
In 1957, Father Ruh visited his family across the ocean. This was to be the last time. In 1960, he celebrated 50 years of service in the priesthood, and the"Ukrainian Lourdes" project is where he dedicated the last years of his life.  Father Ruh died on October 24, 1962 but left enough details behind on how to complete the Grotto to the person most familiar with his plans, that being Mr. J. Zborowsky.  John Zborowsky along with Walter Drerys, and Ed Swiecicki represented the St. Josephat Council, No. 4138 of the Knights of Columbus. The three of them committed themselves to completing Father Ruh's last request. To this end, the basic structure of Father Ruh's last great effort “ the Grotto" dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was completed by 1970.
In closing, I leave the reader with a few excerpts from the June 2, 1960, Letter of Recognition from the Archbishop of Winnipeg, His Grace, Maxim Hermaniuk, Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, honouring the Reverend Father Philip Ruh, O.M.I. (1984) on the Golden Anniversary of his priesthood. The Archbishop aptly summarizes the sentiments of the Winnipeg Archdiocese, the whole Canadian Metropolinate, and all of the spiritual fathers as well as the faithful in these words:
"in the name of the whole Canadian Metropolinate, our great recognition and heartfelt thanks for Your great sacrifice and beneficial work for the good of Christ's Church and our Ukrainian people in Canada. (pp.43-45)
 During the forty-seven years You have been in this country, You have shown Yourself to be, dear Father Jubilarian, not only a zealous missionary-priest who has fully dedicated himself to the salvation of souls, but also a recognized architect-builder, who has given our community in this country so many beautiful stylistic churches and other valuable church buildings.
We are all aware, first of all, of Your missionary pioneer work in the forests of Northern Alberta, where with great sacrifice You served as a shepherd of souls for the districts of Stry and Radway Centre. There it was necessary for you to travel hundreds of miles though [sic] forests and swamps, to carry spiritual comfort to our Ukrainian settlers and to organize their religious and cultural life.
  Also known to us is Your difficult and extraordinarily valuable work as a shepherd of souls in the area of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, (including) Your present parish, where You, dear Father Jubilarian, for thirty years have been their true spiritual father, a Ukrainian cultural leader, a sincere friend and constant advisor. Here (in Cook's Creek) the spirit of Your priesthood will abide forever. "(p.45)
Author Information:
Ihor Cap, Ph.D. is a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada.

Main Reference
REVEREND PHILIP RUH, O.M.I. Missionary and Architect (Autobiography) (1984). Translated from Ukrainian by Morris Kowalchuk, B.A., B.Ed., Edited by Gloria Romaniuk., Printed by Buchanan Printers, Copyright held by the Parish of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Cook's Creek, R.R. 2 Dugald, Manitoba. Pastor Rev. John Sholdak, Winnipeg, 1984.
Additional Readings
Landmarks, Monuments & Built Heritage of the West - Title: Philip Ruh fonds

Ruh, Philip.  

A Good Byzantine Cathedral

The Very Reverend Philip Ruh, O.M.I. Priest, Architect and Builder of about 40 Ukrainian Catholic Churches

Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site No. 23: Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception Cooks Creek


An Introduction to Manitoba Church Architecture

Philip Ruh

An Interview with Mr. Emil Michaels

Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception

Kievan and Cossack Baroque Styles

Oblates in the West: “ The Alberta Story: Biographies “ :Roux Philippe

Friday, February 3, 2017

Canada and United States Cellphone Plans Highest in the World

By Ihor Cap

Canada is the world’s most expensive place to own a cell phone, says the latest non-profit New America Foundation Open Technology Initiative (OTI) Report that compared minimum cost cell phone price plans on a per month basis in 11 countries. Canadians paid $67.50 on their pre-set minimum monthly plans. The remaining countries ranked as follows: the United States ($59.99), Finland ($40.10), Denmark ($39.00), South Korea ($36.20), Sweden ($34.05), United Kingdom ($32.40), and Taiwan ($23.74). Price plans are significantly lower in Japan (18.60), Hong Kong ($13.50), and India (12.90).
While most countries charge for outgoing calls only, cell phone users in Canada and the United States pay for both incoming and outgoing calls. “Cost structures and business models undoubtedly vary as a result of the level of competition and innovation in each country,” said the Open Technology Initiative report.
The OTI Report only confirms what well-travelled North Americans already know about cell phone use in other countries. There is a call for greater competition in the telecommunications industry. More companies outside the existing regional providers are fighting to get into the marketplace in order to drive prices down. However, that may not happen soon unless there is government intervention to nudge the process forward. Canadian and American regulating authorities are continuing to investigate the matter. A more recent CRTC cellphone survey of wireless prices in the G7 and Australia shows that little has changed in 2016.   
Author Information:
Ihor Cap is a web author and a dad. 
Complete Details of OTI Report here:
Complete details of the CRTC report can be found here:
About New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

Image Attribution:
Attribution By Tim Parkinson [CC BY 2.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons

Most Canadian Baby Boomers Plan to Trade in their “Castles” for Upscale “Pumpkins”

By Ihor Cap
Canadian baby boomers aged 44 to 64 who worked hard all their life in the hopes of acquiring that much believed American dream of owning a big home with a car in the garage upon retirement are now discovering that it may be just that, a dream. The reality is that four-in-five boomers plan to downsize their home, in order to save money (46%) or to enjoy certain luxuries (34%) upon retirement, says the TD Canada Trust Boomers Buyers Report. Most (75%) would like to pay off their mortgage before they retire but less than half of the boomers (44%) have managed to do so.
Fifty six percent of the baby boomers are still tied up with a mortgage. One-third (33%) of these boomers have paid off more than 60% of their existing mortgage whereas a quarter of the them have paid off less than 25% of their mortgage.
Preferred Housing after Retirement
Most boomers (61%) prefer to downsize to a detached home after retiring, citing gardening, a back yard and no condo fees as the major reasons for their preference. Another 24% prefer a condominium for better security, lower maintenance and access to such amenities as a pool and exercise room. At least half of the boomers say they will not move (49%) because of the hassle of moving (61%) or because they are already comfortable with the size of the home they are in (43%).
Some baby boomers already own vacation property (9%) and another 12% plan to purchase vacation property after retiring. At least 33% of the boomers are interested in purchasing property in the USA. The latter group is encouraged to consult with an expert about lending rules and taxes when considering such opportunities.
Author Information:
Ihor Cap is a Web Author and a Dad.
Image Attribution:
Attribution By Evan Swigart from Chicago, USA (Pumpkin 2) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Stevia, The Sweetest Botanical Phenomenon

By Ihor Cap
Historical background
The Guarani Indians knew it as “kaa-he-he” (meaning sweet herb). In the 1800s, Spanish historical documents chronicle its widespread use among Paraguay’s indigenous population of the Amambay Mountain region in South America. In 1905, the Italian botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni is credited for making it known to mainstream society. His “discovery” was technically named Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni. The plant was harvested soon after and that is how the Stevia food industry got its start. German sugar producers were less than happy about this find, says a 1913 Hamburg laboratory report which examined the specimens of the now well-known Stevia plant. American Trade Commissioner George Brady learned of the possibilities of this plant in 1921, but it was the French chemists who in 1931 successfully extracted the white, crystalline compounds from this perennial herb and called these compounds steviosides. The Japanese had done intense research with steviosides in the 1960s. By 1990, Japan captured at least 40% of the worldwide market on steviosides use. The Japanese use steviosides to sweeten many food products such as bread, candies, ice cream, and soft drinks. Steviosides use was initially banned by the FDA in the USA in 1991 but that ban was unjustified and it was lifted 3 years later. In 2008, stevia was granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status by the US Food and Drug Administration. On September 18, 2009, Canada revised its guidelines for the use of Stevia in Natural Health Products identifying specific dosage limits in medicinal ingredients and approving it for non-medicinal ingredients as a sweetener or flavour enhancer.
The Botanical phenomenon
So what is the phenomenon you might ask? Well, centuries of stevia use and modern research have not shown any adverse or negative effects such as the health risks posed by the artificial sweeteners saccharin and aspartame. In its natural raw form, stevia is known to contain over 100 phytonutrients. It is non-toxic, has next to zero-calories and carbohydrates with a zero- glycaemic index rating. Unlike sugar, it does not promote tooth decay. Centuries ago it was used in tea-like beverages and medicinal potions or was chewed for its refreshing qualities. Today, this highly concentrated extract is certified safe to USDA standards in liquid and powder form for use as a dietary supplement that anyone can enjoy. One drop is said to be 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar depending on how the plant was prepared. It has many other touted general health benefits that are applicable to one’s general health and diet such as improving cold and flu recovery time or curbing tobacco and alcohol addiction. In cosmetology, it has post-operative healing purposes and facial mask applications. For most of us who are inclined to just lose weight or lower our sugar levels fast, look into Stevia. Ask for it at your local food store today.
About the Author:
Ihor Cap is a Web Author and Dad. 
Learn More About Stevia on The Following Web Sites
Stevia, in Wikipedia,
Stevia Canada ,
Natural Products Market Place,  

HEALTH BENEFITS OF STEVIA http://reid_j.tripod.comstevia.htm

Image Attribution:
By Ethel Aardvark (Own work) [CC BY 3.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons