Caribou Church: Beautiful and Remote

Caribou Church: Beautiful and Remote

This is the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Caribou, in northwestern Minnesota just a little more than a mile from the Canadian border.

Caribou Church

Many of the parishioners at this church lived in Canada and crossed the border regularly without too much trouble, but US Customs began enforcing boundary laws in the thirties, and this church soon waned.

Caribou Church

When I arrived, I was blown away by the simple beauty of the site. The remote location, the huge white crosses in the cemetery… this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve photographed.

Caribou Church

This church was built in 1905 during a church boom that happened in this area (on both sides of the border) due to Ukrainian immigrants who were settling in the area. There are more on the other side of the border, including this one in Tolstoi, Manitoba, and the oldest Ukrainian Orthodox Church In Canada, in neighboring Gardenton, Manitoba.

Caribou Church

St. Nicholas was renovated in 1974, and they held a Divine Liturgy, the first in 30 years, in 1975.

Caribou Church

Don’t let the remote location fool you. This church is still well cared for. Somebody appeared to be stripping the paint with a wire brush and scraper. Nobody was around, but these tools were still sitting on the picnic table, like the caretaker just walked away a few minutes earlier. The church has received a whole new coat of paint since the day I visited.

Caribou Church

This church was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Caribou Church

An open foundation is also on-site, as well as a few inhabited homes in the area.

Caribou Church

For more reading on the Caribou church and other churches like these, I would recommend you check out Sacred Sites of Minnesota by John-Brian Paprock and Teresa Peneguy Paprock.

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Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

13 thoughts on “Caribou Church: Beautiful and Remote

  1. If you want to go into the church, my husband’s family has the keys & would give you a tour and tell you lots of history.

    1. That would be fantastic, Jan. Thanks so much for the offer. If I get back up that way, I’ll shoot you an email!

    2. My mom grew up in Caribou. I would love a tour of the church and learn more about it! I’m hoping to make it up there in September. How can I get in touch with you?

  2. I have photos of all the gravestones and I have created an index to the cemetery. The index includes birth and death dates of all the burials, family information and translations of the gravestones done by Oleksiy Khrystych. The sources used were the Ukrainian Self-Reliance Assn., Leana Kowaliuk ‘s 1994 listing of burials, burial permits, Minnesota death certificates, the Works Progress Administration report from September 1936, etc. This information is available from the Kittson County Historical Society in Lake Bronson, MN or by contacting me at

    1. Thank you for the lovely story. My grandparents, William and Lena Cerkowniak, are buried in the cemetery. We owe a great deal of thanks to the wonderful group of people who maintain the church and grounds. It is beautiful and very remote.

      I would love to hear how you learned of the site.

  3. This is the church I visited while at my great grandparents farm , I think? When I visited the farm my grandfather grew up in. When I returned to Hoffman estates Illinois where my grandparents live today, the key to that church was with us

  4. My Great Grandfather donated the land this Church was built upon. The timber was cut in Canada and floated down the river. Much of the original relics are now in the Museum in Lake Bronson. Sometime this next Spring I will be donating my Great Grandmothers wedding dress she brought over from the Ukraine, Linen with Gold and Silver thread work.
    Our family was as well deeply involved with building the Ukrainian Church in Gardenton MB.

    1. My great great grandparents are buried there Alexander (Sandy) & Maria Myketey I was led to believe it was his land that he donated for the church.

      My great Grandfather was Ivan (John) Mykyte
      Grandfather was Alexander
      They left MN for Alberta Canada about 100 years ago

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