Halifax Ukrainian Club closes its doors after more than 70 years

The "Veselka" Dancers at the Ukranian Club in Halifax
The "Veselka" Dancers at the Ukranian Club in Halifax

The Halifax Ukrainian Club has closed its doors for the last time after more than 70 years.

Affectionately known as the ‘Uky Club’, the Association of Ukrainians in GB Halifax Branch has played host to events and gatherings of the town’s Ukranian community for decades.

The Orlyk Dancers at the Ukranian Club in 2014

The Orlyk Dancers at the Ukranian Club in 2014

But decreasing membership numbers have seen interest in the club dwindle in recent years, leading to financial difficulties.

Chairman of the club Bohdan Kurylak said: “The first Ukrainians arrived in Halifax in 1948 and the first premises were opened on Rhodes Street, close to St Mary’s Church.

“Then around 50 years ago the community moved to its current home Fairfield House.

“Like a lot of second generation people in the community, I was taken to the club by my parents and enjoyed the events, cultural and educational aspect of it.

The Ukranian Club in Halifax

The Ukranian Club in Halifax

“But there is unfortunately no longer that willingness from the third and fourth generation to take on the mantle.

“I understand that people may have moved out of the area or gone off to university.

“We have seen membership numbers dwindle in recent years to 34, so the support base isn’t really there.

“There is still more than 100 Ukranian families in the Halifax area but they don’t use the facility like they used to for whatever reasons.

Celebrating New Year's Eve at the Ukranian Club in Halifax

Celebrating New Year's Eve at the Ukranian Club in Halifax

“It is now mainly used by the Asian community to hold weddings and other events so perhaps they could take over the building, who knows.

“Unfortunately outgoings are bigger than our income. That’s the reality.

“It’s a sad situation. We had to sell our church a few years ago for the same reasons.

“We could have downsized but the committee didn’t feel that was an option because we don’t feel the support base is there.

Celebrating Haloween in 2010 at the Ukranian Club in Halifax

Celebrating Haloween in 2010 at the Ukranian Club in Halifax

“We took the painful decision of closure at an EGM 18 months ago but the issue of lack of support started well before that and a decision had to be taken on the building’s future.

“We’ve lived a hand-to-mouth existence for some time with additional support and it’s been a really difficult balancing act and final decision for the committee.

“What we need to remember in all this gloom is that a community is about the people and not a building so we can continue as a community if the wish and will is still there.”