Episode 33: Kalyna Country

Alison in her kitchen at home, stirring a pot of high bush cranberries

Alison Brooks-Starks asks how folks from Ukraine settled where they did in Canada – was it because the landscapes here looked like places in Ukraine?

In February, we put together a live recording of Let’s Find Out. The idea was to generate a whole season of questions about how humans and nature have shaped each other. Alison squeezed in a question about Ukrainian history to better understand her own great-grandmother’s journey immigrating to Canada.

To explore her question, we dug into a stack of academic research, including books like Storied Landscapes: Ethno-Religious Identity and the Canadian Prairies by Frances Swyripa, Places of Last Resort: The Expansion of the Farm Frontier Into the Boreal Forest in Canada, C. 1910-1940 by J. David Wood, and Community and Frontier: A Ukrainian Settlement in the Canadian Parkland by John Lehr.

Jars smiles slightly, sitting down in his office
Jars Balan in his office.

We also went to the University of Alberta’s Pembina Hall to meet Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Director Jars Balan.

Jars and Alison in front of a pointilist landscape painting
Alison meeting Jars at the University of Alberta’s Pembina Hall.

That inspired us to try making some juice from kalyna – aka high bush cranberry – berries using this recipe.

Further Reading:

This episode is made possible by support from Taproot Edmonton and the Edmonton Historical Board.

We also gave shout-outs in the episode to Overdue Finds and The Well- Endowed Podcast.

Come say hi before NorthwestFest’s May 4 screening of The Trouble With Wolves at 12 PM at Metro Cinema. Use the offer code APN2019 and you’ll get 10% off general admission.


  1. If someone could edit “the” out of “landscapes here looked like places in the Ukraine?” and instead be “in Ukraine”I would really appreciate it.
    Ukraine purposefully removed “the” from their name when they regained independence in the 90s to separate themself from their previous status as a territory of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire prior.


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