Hamilton

Other centres opening their doors to Ukrainian community after devastating fire

The president of the Ukrainian Culture Centre in Hamilton says that many organizations across the city have offered their spaces after a fire last week destroyed the centre.

'In face of this tragedy this is extremely heartwarming': Ukrainian Culture Centre president

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Hamilton located 241 Kenilworth Avenue North has been destroyed after it caught fire in the early morning of April 13. (Submitted by Yura Ivanovo)

It's almost been a week since a devastating fire destroyed the Ukrainian Culture Centre in Hamilton, but with support from the community, events are still taking place.

Stephanie Baran, president of the centre says about 10 to 15 centres across Hamilton have reached out to her, offering space free of charge in the wake of the last Saturday's fire that left them without a space.

She had trouble listing all of the centres off hand because there have been quite a few, but says from the Jewish community to the Buddhist community, to the Indian centre, various organizations have reached out.

"This is so heartwarming. In face of this tragedy this is extremely heartwarming," said Baran.

She says people been asking how they can be of assistance.

"It's just been a great, great response from the community, overall the Hamilton community."

Stephanie Baran, the president of the Ukrainian Culture Centre has been going to where the building once stood every day since it was ravaged by fire April 13. (Submitted by Stephanie Baran)

Baran, 71, says it's too soon to have discussions about rebuilding the centre while they await information from the insurance company.

When it is time to rebuild, Baran says there will be consultations with the community.

She has been going to the centre located at 241 Kenilworth Avenue North for over 50 years, starting as part of the Ukrainian Youth Association that was housed in the centre.

The building was also home to the League of Ukrainian Canadians and anyone else from the general public who wanted to rent the space. 

Meetings, Ukrainian high school courses and choir practices are a few things that would take place on a normal basis.

Baran estimates that the centre would see on average about 400 people a week.

She says some cultural events have been cancelled for now, but the other meetings are still taking place thanks to the organizations offering space.

"We are very, very thankful for the overwhelming support of the Hamilton community," said Baran.

She's been going to the scene every day since the fire, watching the demolition of the building and says, "it's totally devastating."

A total loss

It was 12:21 a.m. April 13 when the Hamilton Fire Department says they received a call for a reported fire at the centre.

The first crews to arrive on screen confirmed that there was a fire on the second floor of the building that extended to the roof area, Deputy Fire Chief John Verbeek told CBC News the following day.

The situation was immediately upgraded to a multiple alarm, bringing in additional resources from across the city.

There were no injuries, said Verbeek, but damage is extensive and has been estimated at approximately $2 million.

The Ontario Fire Marshal was notified and an investigator went to the scene to determine where and how the fire started.

"The building can be considered a total loss," Verbeek told CBC News.

For Baran that loss is real.

"It's progressively worse because it's finally sinking in," said Baran.

Photos, documents, meeting minutes — just a few of the many things from the past 60 years that vanished in the flames.

Baran says the centre officially opened in 1967, but the organization predates that.