The history of the branch dates back to 1928 when the AUUC Ukrainian Cultural Centre had its beginnings as the Ukrainian Labour Temple. This building became a focal point in some of the struggles of the Dirty Thirties. It was the organizational headquarters for the On To Ottawa Trek in 1935 and a place of refuge for strikers in the great Post Office Strike in 1938. Padlocked in 1940 under the "Defense of Canada Regulations", and sold, it was returned and reopened in 1945 before a large festive crowd of members and supporters.
In 1957, cultural life in the centre was greatly rejuvenated under the leadership of Cultural Director Karl Kobylansky who had just come from Kyiv after studying music. A festival followed in 1958 with participation of groups from across Canada. In 1959, the operetta Chervona Kalyna was successfully staged. It was followed in 1961 by a grand concert in honour of Taras Shevchenko on the 100th anniversary of his death.
The 1960's and 1970's saw impressive Women's Day celebrations, a concert in tribute to the Ukrainian poetess Lesya Ukrainka, and the participation of members in the Vancouver Peace Walks.
In 1991, the orchestra and dancers took part in the Ukrainian Showcase at the Pacific National Exhibition. Also, Vancouver cultural participants joined with other AUUC'ers in the 100th anniversary of first Ukrainian settlements in Canada in centennial festivals in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.
In 1988, after much planning and effort, the Lesya Ukrainka Manor, a residence for seniors, next door to the AUUC Cultural Centre, opened its doors. Its existence is celebrated each September when Ukrainian Pioneer Day events are held.
A part of its continuous activities, the branch has explored the Ukrainian traditions of Ivana Kupala festivals, celebrating the fertility of nature through songs and dances. Malanka, a celebration of the return of the sun's warmth and lengthening of days, is celebrated every year. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the opening of the hall and the 80th anniversary of the founding of the AUUC, a pictorial exhibition (1923 to 1988) was organized in 1998. In September 1999, an amazing exhibit of embroidery, crochet and other crafts showcased the talents of members and pioneers.
In the new millennium the Vancouver Branch has undergone major changes with the departure of some active members. The remaining members have had to work much harder to keep things going. Quite fortunately, we have had some very successful events. One of the initiatives that has worked well is our effort to learn more about our surrounding community and to coordinate some of our events with the community.
A significant event in 2003 was our concert, dinner and historic photo display to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the building of our Ukrainian Labour Temple at 805 East Pender Street in Vancouver. With an overflow crowd eating their dinner at tables set up outside and musicians playing old time fiddle and accordion tunes, the atmosphere really took one back to earlier days.
We were very happy to be able to take part in this festival of celebration with Alberta and Saskatchewan on the occasion of their 100th year in the Canadian confederation. Ukrainians were very much a part of the hard work that has made Alberta and Saskatchewan the success they are today. Congratulations from the AUUC in Vancouver!