Oak Leaf Club History

For the last decade Russian speaking community in Alberta has grown up to about 20 000 people and the demand to open Banya or sauna in Calgary which is a prominent cultural attribute for immigrants from the former USSR has become a strong reality.

In 2008 according to the agreement between Calgary Jewish Community Center (CJCC) and Russian speaking community in Calgary a small sauna was allocated to be used as a Banya in the men’s changing area of CJCC and only once in a week for 4 hours.

“Banya” means that people visiting a specially designed sauna use to bring inside the sauna a venik (dried twigs with oak or birch leafs). Visitors use twigs for aromatherapy and body massage which is very healthy for the mind and body.

Very soon the number of sauna visitors in CJCC has significantly increased and that room has become pretty small and uncomfortable. Some people yet from Edmonton started to come to Calgary in order to use a small sauna in CJCC.

Another fact supposed to be mentioned is that  women never have had any opportunity at all to follow up cultural traditions in Alberta and to visit Banya which was the reason for multiple complaints about the issue.

Taking into consideration all mentioned above we decided to build a new modern recreational facility in Calgary which would meet the requirements of a typical Banya or sauna.

Founder – Dr. Igor Voropanov PhD, MD

Assistant Professor
Retired Colonel of the Medical Service of the Russian Navy
Founder of European club «Oak Leaf»

From 1980 till 1999 Igor worked as a General Surgeon and served for the Soviet (later for Russian) Navy. He completed his doctor’s career as Assistant Professor of the Surgery Department of the Military Medical Academy in Saint Petersburg and Colonel of the Medical Service of the Russian Navy.

From his childhood Igor enjoyed Banya and as a doctor he knows and understands in details the health benefits of Banya and that is why he influenced and suggested to have Banya as a regular hobby to his friends, wife and son.

For a long period of time Igor had a dream to open a Banya club in Calgary and to enrich the multicultural population of the city with the piece of historical and traditional Russian culture.