Vita, Manitoba

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Local urban district
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Vita is located in Manitoba
Location of Vita in Manitoba
Vita is located in Canada
Vita (Canada)
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 (2016)[1]
 • Total 479
 • Density 156.8/km2 (406/sq mi)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Highways PTH 201

Vita (/vɑːjtə/ Ukrainian: Вайта; translit. Vaita) is an unincorporated community recognized as a local urban district[2] in southeast Manitoba settled by Ukrainian immigrants in the late 1890s.[3] It is roughly 50 km (31 mi) by road from Steinbach (via PTH 12 and Provincial Road 302) in the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn. The community's name was originally Shevchenko. The name of the village and the post office was changed to Vita in 1910, because when the railroad came through, the rail-line laying foreman (who was of Italian background) reserved his right to name stations along the line in Italian (though the pronunciation was Anglicized).[4]

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 (in the Canadian Ukrainian dialect) was taught as an option at the elementary and secondary levels – parallel to the French language.[3]

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.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Vita was known for staging major, high-priced[5] baseball tournaments hosted by the community's two teams.[6] The Vita Cubs and Vita Mallards played distant teams like Angusville from the Saskatchewan–Northwest Border district; Chatfield/Grosse Isle in the Interlake; Kenora, Ontario; Greenbush, Lancaster, and Karlstad, Minnesota; Plum Coulee/Winkler to the west & many other teams (Grunthal, St-Pierre-Jolys, Vassar, Dominion City, Sundown, etc.).[original research?][citation needed] The 1955 Vita Cubs team was elected into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame along with Steve Derewianchuk, catcher.[6] The Vita Mallards played in Senior Baseball Championships and in the Winnipeg Senior Baseball League as the St. Boniface Mallards.[6] 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.[7]


1955 tornado

Vita was heavily damaged by a tornado on Sunday, June 19, 1955 – the roof of the hospital was completely torn off. An excerpt from the "1956 Vitonian Yearbook":

At Vita on that afternoon, a friendly ball game was in progress in the new ball park. The sky that a few minutes before had a bright blue, dotted by fluffy clouds grew grey and sullen. The dark clouds seemed suddenly to swoop to earth & blast the town. A tornado swept through the streets overturning buildings, crushing homes & ripping the roof off the hospital. Chimneys, telephone & hydro poles were broken & torn down unto the streets. Two minutes of terror. Miraculously no one was killed; but nine persons were severely injured & had to be taken to hospitals at Morris, Winnipeg & Steinbach. A total of 40 persons were given first aid by Dr. Waldon in the wrecked hospital before it was closed. Vita's High School, recently elevated to the status of Collegiate Institute, resembled a debris of giant toothpicks. All that remained of the two story 8 room school was one broken wall, ready to topple. The full force of the tornado struck Vita at 4:28 p.m. CST.

— Carillon News Archives, Steinbach, Man.
2012 wildfire and winter storm

A second disaster struck in early October 2012 when a wildfire swept into Vita, burning four homes and a bridge on PR 201 west of the community[8] – 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 community was evacuated. By early evening, the high winds that had put Vita at risk calmed down and the evacuation order was lifted.[9] Greg Selinger, the Manitoba premier at the time, toured the district by helicopter the following day.[10] 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.[11]


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".[12]

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. ^ a b "Census Profile". 2016. Statistics Canada. 
  2. ^ "Local Urban Districts Regulation". Government of Manitoba. April 23, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Ewanchuk
  4. ^ uk:Вайта_(Манітоба)
  5. ^ Claim made by Chatfield, Manitoba team in Manitoba Hall of Fame induction team picture.
  6. ^ a b c Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame
  7. ^ Manitoba Junior Baseball League
  8. ^ "Wildfire evacuation orders lifted for dozens of residents". CTV Winnipeg. October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "Manitoba premier tours town ravaged by grass fires". CBC News. October 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Southeastern Manitoba pounded by adversity". CBC News. October 5, 2012. 
  12. ^ 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.