Vita, Manitoba

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Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Vita is located in Manitoba
Location of Vita in Manitoba
Coordinates: 49°08′02″N 96°33′41″W / 49.13389°N 96.56139°W / 49.13389; -96.56139Coordinates: 49°08′02″N 96°33′41″W / 49.13389°N 96.56139°W / 49.13389; -96.56139
Country Canada
Province Manitoba
Region Eastman
Rural Municipality Stuartburn
Post office established 1908
Renamed 1910
 • Reeve Jim Swidersky
 • MP (Provencher) Ted Falk (CPC)
 • MLA (La Verendrye) Dennis Smook (PC)
 • Total 3.05 km2 (1.18 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 415
 • Density 135.9/km2 (352/sq mi)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Highways PTH 201

Vita is a small community in Southeastern Manitoba settled by Ukrainian immigrants in the late 1890s.[2] It is roughly 50 km by road from Steinbach, Manitoba (via PTH 12 and Provincial Road 302) in the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn. The village's name means "life" in the Ukrainian language, and is pronounced as in vitamin; "bella vita" [beautiful life] in Italian is pronounced "veeda".

Vita has a multi-cultural population with residents from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, the largest being Ukrainian and Mennonite.

Bust of Taras Shevchenko in the foyer of "Shevchenko School" in Vita.

Vita is served by "Shevchenko School" (part of the Border Land School Division), built in 1970. It educates Kindergarten through Grade 12. From 1965 until 1991 the Ukrainian language was taught as an option at the elementary and secondary levels – parallel to the French language.[2]

Businesses and services in Vita include, but are not limited to: a restaurant, fuel station, hospital, credit union with drive-thru ATM, post office, two grocery stores, an arena-curling rink, a liquor store, and a hotel-motel.

Vita is known for its large Canada Day celebration on July 1 of each year. The event generally includes a softball tournament, rodeo, beer gardens, and live entertainment. The night is capped off by a fireworks display. Other events include "socials" throughout the year and other events such as Halloween, Valentine's Day, and New Year's Eve.

In the 1950s and 1960s Vita was well known for staging major, high-priced[3] baseball tournaments hosted by the towns' two teams.[4] The Vita Cubs & Vita Mallards played distant teams like Angusville from the Sask.–N/W border district; Chatfield/Grosse Isle in the Interlake; Kenora, Ont.; Greenbush, Lancaster, & Karlstad, Minn.; Plum Coulee/Winkler to the west & many other teams (Grunthal, St. Pierre, Vassar, Dominion City, Sundown, etc.).[original research?][citation needed] The Vita Cubs 1955 team was elected into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame along with Steve Derewianchuk, catcher.[4] The Vita Mallards played in Senior Baseball Championships & in the Winnipeg Senior Baseball League as the St. Boniface Mallards.[4] The Vic Bozyk Memorial Trophy in the Manitoba Junior Baseball League is named in honour of Victor Bozyk, who was a dominant pitcher for the Cubs and a major contributor to junior baseball in Manitoba.[5]

Vita was heavily damaged by a tornado in 1954 – the roof of the hospital was completely torn off.[original research?][citation needed]

2012 wildfire and winter storm[edit]

A second disaster struck in early October 2012 when a wildfire swept into Vita, burning four homes and a bridge on PTH 201 west of town[6] – two vehicles attempted to drive over the collapsed structure with slight injuries to the two drivers. The fire began threatening Vita late in the morning and by noon the community was put under warning and the entire town was evacuated. By early evening, the high winds that had put Vita at risk calmed down and the evacuation order was lifted.[7] Greg Selinger, the Manitoba premier at the time, toured the district by helicopter the following day.[8] The community and area saw relief from the fires in the form of an abnormally early winter storm that saw the region receive snowfall of about 25 cm (9.84 in). The heavy snow felled about 100 power lines causing massive and lengthy power outages which again prompted evacuations for the town, this time voluntarily, to the local community centre.[9]

Ukrainian culture in Vita[edit]

Postmark from the original "Szewczenko" post office dated 1908; the office was renamed "Vita" in 1910.

The original name for the community – "Szewczenko" – was a Polish spelling of the surname of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. When the railway arrived in the district in 1910, the company decided that "Szewczenko" was both unpronounceable in English and too long to be put on train schedules – thus, "Szewczenko" was changed to "Vita".[10]

Two traditional Ukrainian churches serve Vita: Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church and St. Demetrius Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. There is also a Ukrainian "National Home" /community hall.


  1. ^ "Vita population centre date". Census Canada. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Ewanchuk
  3. ^ Claim made by Chatfield, Manitoba team in Manitoba Hall of Fame induction team picture.
  4. ^ a b c Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Manitoba Junior Baseball League
  6. ^ "Wildfire evacuation orders lifted for dozens of residents". CTV Winnipeg. October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ Carl Degurse and Geoff Kirbyson (October 3, 2012). "Vita family clings to faith after losing home to fire". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Manitoba premier tours town ravaged by grass fires". CBC News. October 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Southeastern Manitoba pounded by adversity". CBC News. October 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ Marunchak


  • Ewanchuk, Michael (1977). Vita : A Ukrainian Community. Books 1-3. Vita, Manitoba: Boundary School Division No. 16. 
  • Marunchak, M. (1970). The Ukrainian Canadians: A History. Winnipeg, Manitoba & Ottawa.