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St. Nicholas,  the first organized Romanian Orthodox parish in North America

A group of immigrants in the Regina area began planning to build a church of their own in 1901, by petitioning the Mother Church in Moldavia, Romania, for her blessing to establish an Orthodox Church in its present location at 1770 St. John Street. After receiving blessing from the Mother Church and approval from the local authorities, the building plans began to materialize.

The first structure – a small white church with a characteristic Byzantine domed steeple was built from local lumber. The names recorded as original founders were Nicolai Zora, Ioan Nicolai, Ilie Bancescu, Nicolai Surdea, Alexandru Ursache, Nicuta Donison.

The original cost of the structure is shown on one of the Land Titles Certificate as $5,500.00.  However , the amount of $9,000.00 was reported in the 1967 Solia. The church ownership of Lots No. 25-27, Block 290, registred at Assiniboia Land Registration District, Regina, in the North West Territories on January 26, 1905, was under the name of “Parintele Glicherie” Bishop of Iasi, in the Kingdom of Romania.  

The original church bell was donated from an unfinished church started by the orthodox Romanians but was then turned over to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as the Romanian immigrants had migrated to Calgary and Boian where there were job opportunities. Meanwhile the City of Regina Fire Department installed a new siren on the roof of the Power House to replace the old alarm system and donated their bell to St. Nicholas. It became known as the church with two bells, one in the belfry and one hanging on the scaffold outside the building.

Having finished the church in 1902, Archimandrite Evghenie Ungureanu was sent from the Neamt Monastery in Romania to bless and dedicate the church to St. Nicholas on May 20, 1903. One popular belief that the name St. Nicholas was chosen is because the name “Nicolae” was popular among the founders. This marked the first official Romanian missionary activity on Canadian soil.

Altar table was donated by Zaharia Domnita and Victoria from Balaceana, Bucovina, Romania in memory of their loved ones. The inscription is as clear today at it was the day it was waxed in 1925. In 1926, Patriarch Miron of Romania declared St. Nicholas church a National Monument. “This cruciform-shaped building featuring gothic windows and a central entrance, topped with a tulip-shaped dome” is the oldest building remaining in this neighborhood.

Bishop Policarp Morusca, assisted by Rev. Fathers Daniel and Teofil Maxim and Theodosie Scaletschi, presided at the consecration of St. Nicholas on June 21, 1936.

In 1945 a marble Monument (Troita) honouring the early pioneers of the Church was put up in front of the building.

Archbishop Valerian Trifa of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America on his first visit to St. Nicholas in 1958 cemented a close relationship between the Vatra and the Church and still remains to the present day.

Mother Alexandra (Principesa Ileana), former Princess of Romania, paid a rare visit to St. Nicholas on August 12. 1963.

Archbishop Nathaniel Popp paid his first canonical visit to St. Nicholas on his first parish visitations to Western Canada. He said that "it was appropriate that he should start his Canadian visit as a Bishop here since St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church was the first organized parish in North America”.