The fabric of Canada is woven from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. We are a country made up of many different communities and stories. Today, in honour of Culture Days, On This Spot is featuring a walking tour and a virtual museum tour which delve into the history of the Doukhobor community in Castlegar, BC. The twelve-stop self-guided tour is available for free online and through the On This Spot app. It is built out of sets of historical photos paired with contrasting current photographs that show how this place has changed over time. Meanwhile, app users who are not in Castlegar can still visit the Doukhobor Discovery Centre from the comfort of their computers with On This Spot’s 360 degree virtual tour of the museum.
On This Spot’s self-guided walking tour will introduce you to the fascinating history of the Doukhobor people. We will start with their origins in 18th century Russia, where they were persecuted by the Czar for their religious beliefs, which denounced religious icons and emphasized peace and equality. Eventually, in the 1890s, they fled Russia to come to Canada in search of religious and political freedom. The Doukhobors who settled in British Columbia were immensely hardworking, setting up a number of successful industries, including a prosperous jam factory, while also living in communal village settlements. They were steadfast in their beliefs of equality and pacifism and wanted to live in accordance with their religious principles with minimal government intervention. When they immigrated to Canada, they brought their rich cultural traditions with them, including their rich choral singing tradition, which has grown out of the oral transmission of their prayers and psalms.
Not long after their arrival, Doukhobors came under immense pressure to assimilate into wider Canadian society from the Canadian government and news media sources. While Doukhobors in British Columbia no longer live in communal village settlements, their culture and traditions have survived despite intensive assimilation pressure.
This tour covers the former townsite of Brilliant, beginning at the scenic Brilliant Suspension Bridge, which was built by the Doukhobors. It then continues across the river and along Brilliant Road to see where the famous jam factory once stood, along with the many other buildings that once made up the community here. Our virtual museum tour of the Doukhobor Discovery Centre is also available online for free or through the On This Spot app.