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Explore the History of 
St. Philomena Walking Pilgrimage

St. Philomena


Feastday: August 11
Patron of infants, babies, and youth
Birth: c. January 10, 291
Death: c. August 10, 304
Canonized By: 1837

Little is known about the life of St. Philomena. However, it is believed she was a Greek princess who became a virgin martyr and died at 13-years-old.

Remains of a young lady were discovered in May 1802 at the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria Nova with three tiles reading "Peace be to you, Philomena."

All that is known about St. Philomena's life comes from a Neapolitan nun's vision. Sister Maria Luisa di Gesu claims St. Philomena came to her and told her she was the daughter of a Greek king who converted to Christianity. When Philomena was 13-years-old, she took a vow of consecrated virginity.

After her father took his family to Rome to make peace, Emperor Diocletian fell in love with Philomena. When she refused to marry him, she was subjected to torture.

St. Philomena was scourged, drowned with an anchor attached to her, and shot with arrows. Each time she was attacked angels took to her side and healed her through prayer.

History of Radar Base Location

The Royal Canadian Air Force Station, (Orcadia Radar Base near Yorkton) was a Long Range Radar and Ground Air Transmitter Receiver facility.  Construction was started in 1961 and the stations were operational in 1963.  Radar functions were operated by 46 Radar Squadron under the control of NORAD.  The site was renamed Canadian Forces Station or CFS Yorkton in 1967 upon the unification of the three branches of the Canadian military into the Canadian Armed Forces.  CFS Yorkton was closed in 1986 as part of the deactivation.

The White Spruce Youth Treatment Centre took over the site as a youth addiction facility until 1998 and then it changed to:

Orcadia Youth Residence as a youth custody facility. 

In 2015, the Whitespruce Provincial Training Centre took over the site.  It officially opened giving low-risk offenders the opportunity to get education and rehabilitation in preparation for the end of their sentence.  This is part of the Corrections and Policing Ministry.  It houses up to 39 male offenders in a minimum security environment.

History of the Stone Orkney Church & School

Located six miles northwest of Yorkton, SK.  In 1882 the first settlers arrived and settled in this district.  They were part of the “York Farmers” who acquired land through the York Farmers  Colonization Company and its managing director, James Armstrong.  The land was in township 26, ranges 4 & 5 and west of the second meridian, in the district of Assiniboia, North West Territories. This company offered the settlers 160 acres free, the adjoining 160 acres at $2.00 per acre and three years credit without interest and they could obtain money at 6% per annum to improve their homesteads.  It was with much faith, courage and vision that the settlers secured their homesteads and named the district “Orkney” after their beloved Orkney Islands of Scotland.

The Orkney Presbyterian Church was built in 1894. The stones were hauled from surrounding farms in wagons and stone boats pulled by oxen.  The church took six months to build.  This church became the Orkney United Church in 1925.    From 1939 to 1958 the Orkney Church was turned into a school for higher grades.  Church services were still held occasionally.  It remained unused until 1963 when it was repaired.  In June 1963 the Orkney Church and School were declared historic sites.  Church services were conducted by a lay minister until the early 1970’s when the church closed.  Yearly memorial services are conducted by a Westview United Church minister and continue each June to this date.

The Orkney Protestant Public School District was formed June 2, 1887.  The original school was built of logs in 1888, and was the first building in York Colony.  The settlers officially named it “Orkney School  #97”.  The stone Orkney School was built in 1897. Classes continued in the stone school until 1958 when it closed and students were transferred to the new Orkney School in Orcadia. 

In 1980 the Orkney Historical Society was formed to the purpose of restoring the Orkney Church and School and to record the history of the district.  The upkeep of these historical buildings and grounds is through donations and memberships in the Orkney Historical Society.  A special celebration and official dedication of the book, “Orkney Stones” was held on July 16, 1989, as a memorial to those pioneers who dedicated their lives to this new homeland and settlement.


Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Whitesand

   The parish was founded in 1911. The first church was built in that same year, to care for settlers, chiefly from the village of Lytsivka, district of Dolyna, who had arrived in the area beginning in 1903.

   The site, located 10 miles northeast of Springside, was donated by Vasyl Shpyley. From 1911 until 1913, the church was Presbyterian, since 1913 it has been Catholic. In 1937, the church building was dismantled and the present building was erected at the same site. The parish hall (dismantled in 2016) was purchased in 1949 from the Yorkton airport. The total area of the church grounds is 2 acres.

   The parish has been served by the Redemptorist Fathers from Yorkton since 1913, on August 1st, 2019 a new Redemptorist order, based in Lviv, Ukraine will take over the administration St Mary's in Yorkton and her affiliated parishes.

   Some statistics: At the time of foundation there were 75 parishioners, but in 1985 there were only 20. Presently, there are 12 families and they have Liturgy once a month from May to November. There have been 5 religious vocations from the parish, 3 priests and 2 nuns, Sister Francis who became the Mother Superior in Rome of all Ukrainian Catholic nuns, and Sister Mechtilde, the famous librarian of Sacred Heart Acadamy, Yorkton. 

Good Spirit Lake Sand Dunes


   As we walk along the south and south east side of Good Spirit Lake, we will be able to observe the older sand dunes, one that were formed hundreds of years ago. These large dunes were formed in periods of drought when the original river became dry and it and the surrounding sandy soil were moved by the prevailing north west winds. So, these largest, oldest dunes were formed before the lake came into being. These dunes are farthest from the lake and are now stable, covered by trees and vegetation. They will be visible as we walk along the trail. Closer to the lake are newer sand dunes, even today, more dunes are being formed. Waves effected by the still prevailing strong north west winds carry sand to the shore, from which it is carried further inland by the same winds. 

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