Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church / Pioneer Museum and Paulencu House (Lennard, RM of Riding Mountain West)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

In 1900, four Romanian immigrants from Voloca, Bucovina, a Romanian province then occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, arrived in the Asessippi district in what is now the Rural Municipality of Riding Mountain West. The community, anchored by the St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Parish, established in 1903, was later named Lennard.

The St. Elijah Pioneer Museum is centred around the St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church, a provincially-designated historic site also known as St. Elie Romanian Orthodox Church. Built in 1952 and restored in 1979, the church replaced two earlier structures erected successively in 1903 and 1908. A plaque beside the nearby 1908 church building, thought to be the oldest remaining Romanian church in Manitoba and restored in 1983, was erected by the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba. The 1903 building, now gone, was constructed of logs and sod. Its replacement was designed by local farmer and carpenter Alexie Slusarchuk and built on farmland donated by Elie Burla.

Near the church buildings is the Bucovinian Pioneer Cemetery. Many of its grave markers from the earliest burials were made of wood and have since rotted and disappeared. More recent burials are marked with stone monuments. Also on the grounds is the Paulencu House that was built in 1906 by John and Mary Paulencu with assistance of Alexie Slusarchuyk. Rescued from imminent destruction by museum volunteers and moved to the site in 1992, the building was restored over the next seven years. Its significance as an important historic sturcture, as the last known example of a traditional Romanian-style farm residence, was recognized with a plaque erected in 2001 by the Manitoba Heritage Council.

Guided tours of the museum are available by appointment. Visit the museum’s “Plan a visit” page for information.

Photos & Coordinates

The second St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church

The second St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church (August 2015)
Source: George Penner

Interior of the second St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church

Interior of the second St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church (May 2019)
Source: George Penner

The third St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church

The third St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Interior of the third St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church

Interior of the third St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church (May 2019)
Source: George Penner

Bucovinian Pioneer Cemetery

Bucovinian Pioneer Cemetery (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Paulencu House

Paulencu House (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.99262, W101.26976
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites

St. Elijah Pioneer Museum


A list of burials in this cemetery is available from the Manitoba Genealogical Society, including a searchable online database available to members at the MGS Manitoba Name Index (MANI). Some additional information is contained in the 1996 MGS publication Carved in Stone: Manitoba Cemeteries and Burial Sites, revised edition, Special Projects Publication, 106 pages.

St. Elijah Romanian Orthodox Church, SW 24-23-24W, Lennard District, R.M. of Shellmouth, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

We thank George Penner and Don Goodes for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 April 2024

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