Erecting the Suspension Bridge at Brilliant, B.C.

By A.M. Truesdell

In 1913, a 331-foot suspension bridge was built across the Kootenay River at Brilliant, B.C. by Doukhobor laborers – members of the Doukhobor Society – under the direction of a construction engineer, A. M. Truesdell. The Doukhobor laborers were unaccustomed to work of this character and, with few exceptions, were unfamiliar with the English language. On account of these conditions, Truesdell remained at site throughout the course of construction to help them through the process, most of his instructions being by means of interpreter. Six years later, Truesdell wrote about the erection of the bridge in the journal, ‘Engineering News-Record’, Vol. 83, No. 5, July 31, 1919 from construction engineering perspective and included several rare, albeit grainy, photographs of the construction.

Sir – The article by William G. Grove in Engineering News-Record of July 3, 1919, p. 4. describing a 540-ft suspension bridge, recalls a somewhat similar but smaller structure built at Brilliant, B.C. in 1913. This was for the Doukhobor society, composed of Russian peasants of a religious sect, living under a system of community ownership, so that the organization customary on construction work did not exist. Very few of them could speak any English, and I knew nothing of their language till I learned it on the job.

Suspension bridge over Kootenay River from south bank. A.M. Truesdell, 1913.

The bridge has a span of 331 feet between centers of towers, with a 16-foot roadway. The trusses are of steel, 9 feet deep; the floor-beams are pairs of channels with hanger rods between and a knee-brace at each end. The towers are 50 feet high above the piers and are of reinforced concrete. Each cable consists of four plow-steel wire ropes 2 inches in diameter, with about 37-foot sag, this arrangement being adopted in order to use cables which the Doukhobors had bought before engaging engineers.

Each rope socket is attached to two 2 ¼-inch rods which pass through a steel anchor bedded in concrete in the solid granite. At the towers, the cables rest on saddles, under which are rollers. The cables are cradled in planes with a batter of 1 to 12 and there are 1 3/8-inch guy cables on either side, attached to floor-beams.

As the men were not accustomed to working high in the air, considerable difficulty was experienced in getting them to try some of the operations. On the north side of the river a 95-foot tower was needed for hoisting concrete. Only three men were willing to build it, and even they would not take it down afterward, so it was pulled over and smashed on the rocks.

The cables were pulled across the river supported on a trolley cable, and after being swung free were adjusted to length. For placing clamps and hanger rods, a trolley cable was used on each side of the road; on these were hung boxes in which the men worked. For entering the lower ends of hanger rods through the floor-beams, suspended chairs were used.

All of the men working on steel erection wore safety belts, such as are used by telephone linemen. On one side of the river the steel was lifted by a small single-drum engine; on the other side hand tackle was used.

Placing a three-panel section of suspension bridge. A.M. Truesdell, 1913.

After the clamps were on the cables the method used was as follows: Hanger rods were put up for three panels; then three floor beams with knee-braces attached were hung, after which the trusses in the three panel sections were put on. A couple of holes in the top chord splice were then caught, the bottom chords pulled together, and the diagonal put in. Then after the laterals were put in place the deck was extended. Bolts were used for field connections.

The bridge was built by the Doukhobor society, assisted financially by the provincial government of British Columbia. It was designed by John R. Grant, of Cartwright, Matheson & Co., of Vancouver, B.C.; the writer was in charge of construction for the same firm.

A.M. Truesdell,

American Bridge Co.

Gary, Ind.

Doukhobors in the Kootenay, 1909

In June 1909, an unidentified correspondent with the Rossland Miner newspaper visited the new 2,700-acre Doukhobor colony at Waterloo (Dolina Utesheniya) at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers in British Columbia. Only a year after its establishment, the colony already boasted 675 members, recent arrivals from the Prairies, who had cleared 350 acres of heavy forest and planted 10,700 fruit trees along with large vegetable gardens. They set up two sawmills, which were busy cutting lumber for the houses of the different villages to be located on the land, and a preliminary irrigation system was established. Greatly impressed with their untiring industry and deep optimism of further development, the correspondent writes about their history, religious beliefs, communal society, vegetarianism, gender equality, dress and overall generosity and courtesy. Reproduced from the Daily News Advertiser (Vancouver BC), June 23, 1909

Last week a representative of the Rossland “Miner” visited the new colony of Doukhobors at Waterloo, B.C., and writes his impressions as follows.

Imagine a community of nearly 700 men, women and children, without a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, a druggist, store, saloon, butcher shop, gaol or police officer, pauper or courtesan, where all of the population are vegetarians and teetotalers, so far as alcoholic beverages are concerned, and who neither chew nor smoke tobacco, and you will have an idea of the Doukhobor settlement at Brilliant, formerly Waterloo, on the Columbia River, about 25 miles from this city.

The inhabitants are Socialists, pure and simple, as everything is held in common. The men and the women work for the community, and all property is owned by the community, and all moneys derived from the sale of the products of the soil go into a common fund. They constitute one big family. The children, until they are able to work, are allowed to play or attend school, where a rudimentary education is given them. As soon as they are strong enough to toil they join the ranks of the workers and become part of the producers.

There are no drones in this human hives. When old age comes on and the limbs become unfit for arduous toil, the superannuated Doukhobors are treated just the same as when they were useful to the community. One of the Doukhobors explained this to the “Miner” representative, about as follows: “Old men and old women, when breakfast comes, eat breakfast; when dinner comes, have dinner; when supper comes, have supper. Rest of time they sit in house if weather is bad, but if weather fine they go in the sun and enjoy themselves. When they want shoes, hat, coat, vest, they go to the shop and get them.”

The former Waterloo mining and lumber camp (est. 1896) where the Doukhobors first settled in 1908. The two-story building at the left was used as the Brilliant Post Office and branch office of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, with the John W. Sherbinin family living upstairs. The two-story whitewashed log building to the right was used as a communal kitchen and cafeteria. The two-story building to its right served as the community store-house for the receipt and distribution of goods and supplies. Doukhobor Commission Photographs, BC Archives File GR-0793.5.

Elementary School

Questioned as to the school, the Doukhobors stated that as the schools were provided for the children, where they learned to read, write and figure; in other words, they are given a primary education. The desire is not to over educate them. They do not want them to become doctors, lawyers, school masters, or scholars, but tillers of the soil, like their fathers and mothers.

Another feature of the Doukhobors is that they are opposed to war and will take no hand, act or part in it. In Russia, where they come from, they were knouted for refusing to serve in the army, but preferred death under the cruel knout to taking part in slaying their fellow men. One of the cardinal parts of their creed is that they are opposed to the shedding of the blood of anything that lives, and hence they are vegetarians, drawing the line even at fish. They have been called by some “Russian Quakers.”

Doukhobor Religion

As to their religion, it was explained to the “Miner” representative as follows:

They follow as closely as possible the teachings of Christ in doing only that which is good to their fellow man, and of not resenting violence when it is offered against their persons or property. When one cheek is smitten they turn the other to the smiter. They lead clean, honest lives, wronging neither man nor dumb creates and make their living by the sweat of their brow, directly from the soil.

Should a member of the community desire at any time to leave, he gives notice of his wish and his or her share is apportioned and he or she is given it in the form of money. Should he or she afterwards regret their action and desire to return they can repurchase their interest and again become members of the community.

Doukhobor leader Peter V. Verigin’s older brothers Prokofy and Vasily and family at Waterloo (Dolina Utesheniya) in c. 1911. A.M. Evalenko, The Message of the Doukhobors (1913).

Women with the Hoe

The women work in the fields the same as the men, doing the light tasks, such as hoeing and planting. It was an interesting sight to see groups of them coming in from the fields at noon and in the evening. Each had a hoe on his shoulder and they laughed and chatted with each other as they made their way to the public dining room, where they dined with their children.

They are usually attired in dark skirts with waists of varied material, generally calico and of different colors, according to the taste of the wearers. Each wears a large apron. The headdress consists of a large handkerchief covering the hair and the sides of the face and tied in a knot at the throat. A portion of the handkerchief falls for a considerable distance down the shoulders. Their feet are covered with rough shoes, and not a few of them were without stockings. Apparently there is not a corset in the community.

A few are comely, others have the “fatal gift of beauty,” while not a few are homely. They are deep chested, wide-hipped, clear eyed and have the red badge of health in their cheeks in most instances. A few of the older ones show the effects of hard toil in stooped shoulders and deeply-marked lines in their faces. They seemed to be cheerful and contented, while their children were veritable pictures of health, vitality and strength, lively and full of pranks. The children were generally barefooted.

One feature that struck the visitor was their universal politeness and kindliness. The men respectfully salute their fellows, whether men or women, whenever they meet, by raising their caps with cheerful words of salutation. The stranger visiting the place is shown the same sort of courtesy, the children being particularly polite.

Strong, Hardy Men

The men nearly all wear a peaked cap and in most instances black coats, all of which are of the same cloth and pattern; dark trousers and heavy shoes. They are manufactured by them at home in most instances. The men are large, strong, athletic and active looking. They are nearly all light complexioned, with blue and gray eyes, although there are a few of the pronounced brunette type with flashing black eyes.

It was noticed that they all were able to read, as when they came to the Post Office they looked over the letters and selected whatever was directed to them.

Peter Verigin is the head man of the colony. He is a fine looking, large man, of commanding appearance. Although he has been in Canada for several years he has not yet learned to speak English. John Sherbinin is his interpreter and is a young man of ability, who speaks English fluently, and from him the following particulars concerning the community were learned:

Doukhobor leader Peter V. Verigin working in his vegetable garden at the Waterloo camp, Dolina Utesheniya, c. 1911. A.M. Evalenko, The Message of the Doukhobors (1913).

Last year the community, after a thorough inspection of the various portions of the Province, on the part of their agent, purchased through Willoughby & Mauer, of Winnipeg, 2,700 acres of land near Waterloo. This included 67 acres belonging to H.B. Landers [sic Landis] and 14 acres owned by James Hartner.

This land extends along the Columbia River’s east bank for a distance of two miles and along the south bank of the Kootenay river for a mile and a half. The land extends from the river front to the foot of the mountains, which rise almost perpendicular at the eastern boundary of the land. The land is beautifully located on three benches. The first bench is 100 feet above the level of the river and a quarter of a mile wide. The second bench is 200 feet above the river and about a mile wide. The third bench is 350 feet above the river and about a quarter of a mile in width. The three benches represent former beds of the Columbia River and the soil is a rich alluvial, being ideal fruit and vegetable land. The valley of the Columbia is wide at this point and the sun has ample opportunity of warming the oil and making “things grow.”

The First Arrivals

On May 12, 1908, the first installment of Doukhobors arrived from the prairies, consisting of 80 men, three women and two children.

Last year a little over 200 acres were cleared and a considerable quantity of vegetables raised, such as potatoes, cucumbers, water melons, citron melons, turnips, radishes, etc., and about 700 fruit trees were planted.

This year, so far, 150 acres have been cleared and 10,700 trees planted, including plums, cherries, prunes, apricots, nectarines, walnuts, chestnuts and almonds. Besides there have been 6,000 grape vines planted on the sunny slopes of the benches. Then there are 18,000 seedling apple, pear and quince trees purchased in Iowa, which will be set out later, they being at present in beds. A very large number of gooseberries, currants and blackberries have been set out, which will produce considerable fruit this year. This season there have been a good sized acreage devoted to potatoes, onions, beets, buckwheat, water melons and other vegetables.

The community has had in operation for a considerable time a portable sawmill that cuts about 5,000 feet of lumber a day. Another and a larger mill has been purchased and is at present at Castlegar on board the cars. This will soon be placed in position and will cut from 30,000 to 40,000 feet a day. It will be used to cut lumber for the houses of the different villages that are to be located on the land of the community. It will not only be used at Waterloo but at Pass Creek, where the community has purchased 2,000 acres of land.

A ferry has been put in at Waterloo, which will carry thirty tons, and a second ferry has been placed in position in the Kootenay River, which is only a little smaller than the one at Waterloo.

Returning to the additions to the colony, Mr. Sherbinin stated that fifteen came in July last from the prairies, consisting of two men, three children and ten women. April of the present year 190 men arrived from the prairies. Within the past few days, 500 arrived at Waterloo, a considerable portion of whom were women. About 150 have gone to near Grand Forks, where the community owns 1,000 acres of land, and some are working for others clearing land. The present population of the Waterloo community is about 675.

Group of early Doukhobor settlers to Waterloo (Dolina Utesheniya), c. 1909. BC Archives A-02072.

Asked as to the future plans of the community, Mr. Sherbinin stated that the intention was to continue the work of clearing, till 2,700 acres at Waterloo was cleared and set out in fruit, thus making it the largest orchard in the Province. A road is being built to Pass Creek, from Waterloo, which with all its winding will be about ten miles in length. If the Province constructed this road it would cost at least $12,000, but the Doukhobors are doing it themselves without asking for a cent from the public coffers. The 2,000 acres that the community owns at Pass Creek will be cleared and part of it used for growing vegetables and the remainder for hay and pasturage.

Asked where the Doukhobors came from, Mr. Sherbinin said that they were from the Caucasian Provinces that lie in Southern Russia between the Black and Caspian Seas, and principally from Tiflis and Kars. They are from the cradle of the Aryan race. The Doukhobor society is three or four hundred years old. They came to Canada first in 1898, because dissatisfied with the adverse conditions in Russia, and particularly the compulsory service required of them in the army, preferring death at the hands of the Cossacks to service in the army. There are about 7,000 of them in Canada at present. In Saskatchewan there are 40 villages each containing from 75 to 350 people. It is the intention to transfer all of these to the Province inside of the next five years.

Asked the reason for the change of residence place the reply was that as the Doukhobors are vegetarians and used to a fairly warm climate, it was too cold for them on the prairies, while the weather here was free from intense cold. On the prairies they cannot raise fruits, vegetables and nuts, which form so large a portion of their diet, but here they can be easily grown, and hence their preference for this section of the country.

First crop of tomatoes grown by Doukhobors at Waterloo (Dolina Utesheniya), 1908. SFU MSC121-DP-152-01.

Vegetarian Menus

The “Miner” representative dined twice with the Doukhobors during his visit, having luncheon and dinner. At luncheon he had a vegetable soup, made of potatoes and fragrant herbs, thickened with milk and butter and seasoned with salt. It was very good. Black bread made of whole wheat, evidently mixed with rye. It was sweet and wholesome. Two fresh eggs; then there was raspberry jam, raisins and plums stewed together, butter and cheese, and water instead of tea. For dinner the menu was as follows: noodle soup, flavored with parsley and seasoned with salt. A slab of cheese; black bread, raspberry jam, two eggs, and water instead of coffee.

From the standpoint of a vegetarian the meals were satisfying, and the “Miner” representative enjoyed them very much. They were given with such kindness and such heartfelt hospitality that added zest to them.

What most impressed the “Miner” representative during his visit was the untiring industry of the members of the community. In a very short time they have cleared, ploughed and made a veritable garden a tract of 350 acres that was last year virgin forest. Not only the stumps and roots have been removed but every stone. The soil has been pulverized to as fine a point as it can be.

Water has been piped to the cultivated land so that trees and vegetables can be irrigated. It is the intention to flume in larger supplies of water from McPhee Creek, so that every acre of the 2,700 can be irrigated.

When the entire tract has been planted it promises to make the largest orchard in the Province. It is understood that most of the fruit raised will be canned or dried for shipment to the larger centres of the Dominion. The task already accomplished is an immense one, but what lies before them in improving the two tracts at Waterloo and Pass Creeks and the one at Grand Forks is much larger. Besides they intend to acquire other areas of raw land which they will improve. What they have done already is an object lesson of great value, as it shows what the soil of the Columbia River Valley is capable of yielding to property directed and energetic effort.

Doukhobor land-clearing on the First Bench immediately north of the Waterloo camp, 1912. Doukhobor Commission Photographs, BC Archives File GR-0793.5.

To the Socialist of this section a visit to Waterloo will give him a view of Socialism at short range, as his doctrines are fully carried out by the Doukhobors.

The vegetarian will find much to commend when he looks into the diet of the Doukhobors. He will see men and women doing hard work on a vegetable diet.

The temperance advocate should also be interested in what he can see in this community and can study the effects of total abstinence in a community of several hundred.

The lover of peace cannot help but admire the courage which the Doukhobors have displayed in sticking to their anti-war doctrine.

Those who are interested in humanity and how man is working his way to a higher destiny, can find food and reflection in this simple, plain and God-fearing community.

The Doukhobor Grain Elevator at Brilliant , BC

By Jonathan J. Kalmakoff

Brilliant, British Columbia is known for many things, including its historic orchard lands, its spectacular scenic views of the Kootenay and Columbia River valleys and its picturesque mountain backdrops.  One thing it is not known for, however, is grain growing.  And yet, for a quarter-century, a tall grain elevator towered over the community; albeit one that functioned differently than most other elevators in Western Canada.  This article examines the unique history of the Doukhobor grain elevator at Brilliant.


Beginning in 1908, thousands of members of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB) led by Peter V. Verigin arrived in the West Kootenay from Saskatchewan, where they purchased vast tracts of heavily forested land. 

Doukhobor Communal Enterprise at Brilliant, 1924. BC Archives No. C-01386-141.

Over the next decade, 2,800 Doukhobors[i] settled on 5,350 acres[ii] at Brilliant and Dolina Utesheniya (Ootischenia) at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers.  There, they cleared the land and established 30 communal villages.[iii]  On the non-arable land, they established various industries including sawmills, a planer mill, shingle mill, stave mill, box-making factory, linseed oil processing plant, fruit spray manufacturing facility, pumping plant and electrical works, two large irrigation reservoirs, a harness shop and large jam factory.  On the arable land, they planted 1,435 acres of orchard (apple, pear, plum and cherry trees)[iv] and another 2,706 acres of berries (strawberries, raspberries and currents), potatoes, fiber crops (flax, hemp), forage crops (clover and hay) and feed crops (oats and millet).[v]     

The burgeoning settlement was self-sufficient in virtually every respect, save for one.  While the Doukhobors there grew small plots of wheat, including 55 acres at the north end of Ootischenia and 15 acres on the third bench at Brilliant, they did not produce remotely enough wheat to satisfy their domestic needs.  As flour was a staple food item among Doukhobors, this posed a serious problem.   

Prairie Wheat

To address this, Peter V. Verigin arranged for surplus wheat grown by the CCUB on the Prairies, where it had thousands of acres of grain land, to be milled into flour and shipped to Brilliant and Ootischenia from 1909 on.[vi]  At first, it was a one-way exchange.  However, as the settlement grew and developed, especially after its orchards came into bearing between 1912 and 1918, it traded its locally-produced fruit, jam and timber for Prairie wheat and flour.   

CCUB Grain Elevator at Brilliant, BC, c. 1922. BC Archives No. C-01790.

To further facilitate this exchange, in September 1912, the Doukhobor leader first proposed building a local grain elevator to store the wheat shipped in from the Prairies and a grist mill to manufacture flour from it.[vii]  The mill was constructed at the northeast end of Ootischenia, which was called Kamennoye, by December 1914.[viii]  However, it was several more years before the elevator was built.    

The Elevator

Between October 1917 and August 1918,[ix] CCUB work crews erected a large grain elevator on the south side of the Canadian Pacific Railway Rossland Branch right-of-way, immediately west of the Kootenay-Columbia Preserving Works jam factory on the main bench of Brilliant. 

The Doukhobors were proficient elevator builders at the time, having constructed nine grain elevators owned and operated by the CCUB at Verigin, Arran, Ebenezer, Canora and Kylemore, SK and at Cowley and Lundbreck, AB as well as numerous others built for hire for private grain companies.

The one at Brilliant was a ‘standard plan’ elevator of wood crib construction clad in tin on a concrete foundation, about 35 x 35 feet wide x 70 feet high, with a gable cupola facing north-south.  It had a storage capacity of 30,000 bushels of grain.  Originally painted white, it was repainted dark brown between 1925 and 1927.  Emblazoned on its east and west sides were the words, “The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd.”    

Attached on the south side of the elevator was a wooden ramp, receiving shed and office.  On its west side was an attached engine shed containing a stationary gasoline engine which provided the motive power to operate the elevator.  Attached on the east side was a large flour warehouse that stored bagged flour received from the Prairies.        


The Brilliant grain elevator operated continuously from 1918 until 1938.  Throughout this time, it followed a more or less regular seasonal routine.

Each September through October, after the CCUB Prairie grain harvest was completed, railroad boxcars loaded with bulk wheat were shipped from CCUB Prairie elevators to Brilliant.  Each boxcar held between 1,200 and 1,500 bushels and up to 20 boxcars were dispatched each year.  Once they arrived at Brilliant, the boxcars were spotted (parked) on the railway siding beside the elevator for unloading. 

To unload a boxcar, the exterior door was slid open and the wooden boards nailed across the interior opening were removed, one at a time, starting from the top.  This allowed the wheat to flow out the door into the horse-drawn grain wagon parked beside it.  Each wagon held 100 bushels and 12-15 wagons were required to unload a single boxcar.[x]  Once the wooden boards were removed and wheat ceased to flow out the boxcar door, the remaining wheat was shoveled out by hand.       

Inside a Grain Elevator. Courtesy Commonwealth Journal.

Each loaded wagon was then driven by a Doukhobor teamster into the elevator receiving shed where it was unhitched from its team, weighed on the scale and then lifted using hand-operated crank hoists to dump the grain into the receiving pit below.  Once empty, the wagon was lowered and reweighed.  The difference between weights determined the volume of wheat received.  The wheat was then carried from the pit to the top or ‘head’ of the elevator by means of a ‘leg’, a continuous belt with carrying cups.  From the head, the grain was dumped into one of several bins where it was stored.  Over several weeks, up to 300 wagon-loads of grain were received by the elevator until it reached its storage capacity. 

When wheat stored in the elevator was needed for milling, it was emptied by gravity flow from the bin into a hopper and back down into the pit, where it was then carried back up the ‘leg’ to an unloading spout that emptied in the receiving shed into a horse-drawn grain wagon parked there.  The loaded wagon was then driven across the suspension bridge to the grist mill at Kamennoye to be ground into flour. 

As the grist mill had a relatively limited capacity of 100 bushels a day, only one wagon-load of wheat was typically discharged from the grain elevator each day.  It therefore took some 300 days to fully empty the elevator, by which time, new boxcars of wheat would arrive from the latest Prairie harvest.  And so the cycle repeated itself.    

When flour milled by the CCUB on the Prairies was shipped to Brilliant, the bags of flour were unloaded from the boxcar by hand and carried to the elevator flour warehouse where they were stacked and stored. 


Initially, the CCUB Brilliant Branch Manager was responsible for the operation of the grain elevator.  From 1918 to 1923, this was Michael M. Koftinoff, and from 1924 to 1926, it was Larion W. Verigin.  By 1928, the elevator had its own Manager, which in that year was John J. Zoobkoff, while from 1929 to 1932 it was Michael W. Soukeroff.[xi]  Several labourers assisted the Manager with grain handling.    

Licensing Status

The Brilliant elevator operated quite differently than most elevators in Western Canada.  It did not receive grain from members of the public.  And while it received grain privately owned by the CCUB, it did not receive any that was locally produced.  Indeed, it did not deal directly with producers at all.  Also, it did not handle un-inspected grain, since the grain it received was already inspected at the CCUB Prairie elevators.  Nor did it purchase, handle, store or sell any grain for commerce.  Finally, it did not ship out any grain by rail.       

Doukhobor Grain Elevator at Brilliant, 1927. Courtesy Doukhobor Discovery Centre/John Kalmakov.

Because of its unique mode of operation, the grain storage facility did not legally fit the definition of a “public elevator”, “country elevator”, “primary grain dealer” nor “private elevator” so as to require a license under The Canada Grain Act.  Consequently, with one exception, it was never licensed while in operation.[xii] 

The Demise of the CCUB

For two decades, the grain elevator served as an essential component of the CCUB food supply chain, helping keep bread on the tables of the Doukhobors of Brilliant and Ootischenia. 

However, by mid-1936, the CCUB was bankrupt.  Its collapse was the combination of various factors, including low prices for its agricultural and industrial products during the Great Depression; oppressive interest rates on its mortgaged properties; a declining membership base, placing the debt load on disproportionately less members; non-payers of annual allotments among its members; the enormous losses to its capital assets suffered from incendiarism; as well as financial mismanagement.[xiii]

In May 1938, the Brilliant grain elevator and other CCUB properties were foreclosed upon by the receiver for the National Trust Company Limited, having been pledged as collateral to secure the bankrupt organization’s debt.[xiv]  For the next five years, it sat empty and unused except as casual storage.  Then in October 1942, it was transferred to the Government of British Columbia.[xv]  However, the Government’s tenure over the elevator proved to be short-lived. 

Destruction of the Elevator

In November 1942, the vacant elevator was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire.[xvi]  The property damage was valued at $4,000.00 for the structure and $2,500.00 for its contents.[xvii]  Provincial police investigated possible incendiary origin of the fire, suspecting radical Sons of Freedom;[xviii] however, no charges were ever laid. 

News report of elevator fire, The Province, November 12, 1942.


Today there are no physical traces of the grain elevator at Brilliant.  The site where it stood at 1839 Brilliant Road is now occupied by a landscaping company.  However, the story of this iconic structure serves to remind us of the ingenuity, determination and productivity of the once-flourishing Doukhobor communal organization it was a part of.   

After Word

An earlier version of this article was originally published in the Trail Times, November 3, 2020 edition and the Castlegar News and Nelson Star November 4, 2020 editions.

End Notes

[i] In October 1912, there were 2,203 Doukhobors at Brilliant and Dolina Utesheniya: W. Blakemore, Report of Royal Commission on Matters Relating to the Sect of Doukhobors in the Province of British Columbia, 1912 (Victoria: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, 1913) at 35. By March 1914, there were 2,800 Doukhobors living there: Joseph, P. Shoukin, Calgary Daily Herald, March 28, 1914.  And in June 1921 there were 2,492 Doukhobors residing in these areas: 1921 Canada Census, District No. 18 Kootenay West, Sub-District No. 10 Trail, pages 1-30 and Sub-District No. 10A Trail, pages 1-23.

[ii] Snesarev, V.N., The Doukhobors in British Columbia (University of British Columbia, Department of Agriculture, 1931).

[iii] V. Plotnikoff, “Shining Waters, Doukhobors in the Castlegar Area” in Castlegar, A Confluence (Castlegar & District Heritage Society, 2000).

[iv] Snesarev, supra, note 2.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] See for example, “Letter to the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood from Petr Verigin, 24 September 1909” in A. Donskov, Leo Tolstoy and the Canadian Doukhobors: A Study in Historic Relationships. Expanded and Revised Edition. (University of Ottawa Press, Nov. 19 2019); SFU Item No. MSC121-DC-029-001, Letter to the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood from Peter Verigin, September 5, 1911; SFU Item No. MSC121-DB-052-001, Account of Income and Expenditures for Relocation to British Columbia for the year 1911 up to August 10, 1912; “Report of the General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community held in Otradnoye Village, October 13, 1912” in Winnipeg Free Press, December 5, 1912.

[vii] Blakemore, supra, note 1 at 47.

[viii] The Province, December 21, 1914.

[ix] Detailed photographic and textual depictions of Brilliant in 1917 do not include the grain elevator: Vancouver Standard, April 7, 1917; Vancouver Daily Sun, October 14, 1917. However, several 1918 and 1919 accounts make reference to the ‘recently erected’ grain elevator: Record of Christian Work, Vol. 37, No. 8, August, 1918 at 449; Letter dated April 24, 1919 from Nicholas J. Chernenkoff, CCUB to B.E. Paterson, Chairman, Committee of Enquiry & Research, Soldier Settlement Board; British Columbia Farmer, May 1, 1919; Saskatoon Daily Star, July 12, 1919.

[x] A lesser number might have been used, provided they first unloaded their wheat in the elevator and then returned to the boxcar for another load.

[xi] Wrigley’s British Columbia Directory, 1928-1932.

[xii] Throughout its twenty years of operation from 1918 to 1938, the CCUB elevator Brilliant was only licensed once in 1930-1931: List of Licensed Elevators and Warehouses in the Western Grain Inspection Division (Ottawa: Department of Trade and Commerce, 1930-1931) at 8. This appears to have been due to a misinterpretation of the revised Canada Grain Act, 1930 (Can.), c. 5) which came into force on September 1, 1930.

[xiii] S. Jamieson, “Economic and Social Life” in H.B. Hawthorn (Ed.), The Doukhobors of British Columbia (University of British Columbia, 1955) at 52-56.

[xiv] National Trust Company v. The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd. (SCC) [1941] SCR 601, [1941] 3 DLR 529; 23 CBR 1; Medicine Hat News, June 29, 1939 at 1.

[xv] The Doukhobor Lands Acquisition Act (Chapter 12, Statutes of British Columbia, 1939); British Columbia Order-in-Council No. 1429 of October 21, 1942.

[xvi] Vancouver Sun, November 12, 1942; The Province, November 12, 1942.

[xvii] Steve Lapshinoff, Depredations in Western Canada Attributed to the Sons of Freedom, 1923 to 1993 (Krestova: self-published, 1994) at 11.

[xviii] Supra, note 16.

Brilliant Cemetery Map (Rows A-J)

Map of Brilliant Cemetery
Brilliant, British Columbia

Rows A – J


44 John F. Obetkoff
43 Natasha Lebedoff Maria N. Postnikoff William W. Hoodicoff
42 William S. Plotnikoff Hauna Makortoff Vera E. Zibin
41 William A. Makortoff Irene Ozeroff Pete A. Kootnikoff Andrew A. &    Timothy A. Popoff William A. Popoff Mary Makortoff Paulie Plotnikoff Helen Cheveldaeff
40 Florence I. Makeiff Fydor I. Relkoff Nora Drazdoff Helen Fomenoff Nick E. Koftinow Nick N. Ogloff Nora Postnikoff Mike P. Cheveldaeff
39 Mary Savinkoff William N. Repin Alex A. Mojelsky Vera A. Boolinoff John P. Postnikoff William Sherstobitoff Elizabeth Relkoff Valerie Kalesnikoff Polly Popoff
38 Alex N. Maloff Vasily J. Plotnikoff Mable Shukin Mabel K. Phillipoff Nellie E. Voykin Peter Kalesnikoff Mike Gorkoff Philip P. Gorkoff John Makortoff
37 Nick Chernenkoff Fred F. Postnikoff Wasoona Zibin Anna S. Sherstobitoff John H. Kabatoff Fred Shukin Bill Bullanoff Wiliam H. Kabatoff Peter K. Verigin
36 Tina Trubetskoff Mary Perepolkin Fred J. Boolinoff William Postnikoff Koozma Kalesnikoff Fanny Popoff Peter P. Zibin Tina Postnikoff Alex Rezansoff
35 Mike W. Plotnikoff Steve P. Lebedoff Alec A. Maloff John S. Harshenin Alex K. Halisheff Michael M. Lebedoff Pauline Repin Dora A. Postnikoff William G. Dootoff
34 Aloosha M. Gorkoff Fanny Rilkoff Patrick A. Verigin Walter P. Wanjoff Sam P. Horcoff Paul Kinakin John J. Bloodoff Larry Swetlikoff Annie Legebokoff
33 Samuel N. Seminoff Peter Lebedoff John Popoff Nick Doubinin Samuel F. Wishloff William G. Hoodicoff Annie Kalesnikoff Dorothy Perehudoff Mary Stuchnow
32 Helen Chernenkoff Aldokim Postnikoff Fred Ogloff Walter Trubetskoff Dora Semenoff William S. Perehudoff Peter J. Cheveldave Mary J. Postnikoff Fred Swetlikoe
31 Nikolai G. Konkin Fanny &  Fred Philipoff Peter P. Harcoff Paul Trubetskoff Peter W. Evdokimoff Samuel A. Shukin William Philipoff Nina L. Koodrin Helen Hoodicoff
30 Nikolai N. Davidoff Avdotia Voykin William W. Zoobkoff Alex J. Pereverzoff Fred W. Argatoff Florence Kootnikoff Mary Ozeroff Peter Drazdoff Ann
29 Anastasia Gorkoff Agatha H. Verigin Joseph W. Davidoff Anastasia M. Evdokimoff Mary J. Nevakshonoff Molly Repin Mary M. Koftinow Walter P. &
Joseph W. Gorkoff
Lucy Woykin
28 John Postnikoff Mike W. Postnikoff Peter S. Konkin Tina Plotnikoff Steve T. Samarodin Peter N. Repin Mary K. Pictin William F. Sookorukoff Nellie Perepolkin
27 Nastia Plotnikoff Mary Fominoff Fred A. Konkin Patricia P. Evin Nick A. Popoff William G. Trofimenkoff Mary A. Gorkoff Mabel Semenoff Flora Postnikoff
26 Peter F. Fomenoff Malanya S. Kavaloff Annie Postnikoff Marhuta Harshenin Nellie Maloff William A. Kavaloff Annie Kabatoff Fred F. Zoobkoff George W. Rilkoff
25 John F. Kabatoff Nastia F. Shukin George P. Shkooratoff Polly Shimansky Polly F. Ozeroff Polly N. Hoodicoff John A. Androsoff Helen Philipoff Tena Bartsoff
24 John A. Perepelkin Fred J. Ozeroff Nick D. Postnikoff John S. Holuboff John Polonikoff Dorothy Rilkoff Stella Shukin John K. Voykin Kate Laktin
23 Masha I. Konkin George Polovnikoff Helen Cheveldave John Chernenkoff George F. Evin Mike H. Makayev Mary Polonikoff John J. Makaroff Polly Lebedoff Peter Kalesnikoff
22 Andrew A. Shlakoff Ivan I. Koochin Mary Kootnikoff William Perepolkin Nick Shimansky Nastia Stoopnikoff Tina Golac Mary Nevakshonoff Anne Swetlicoe Florence Chernoff
21 Peter P. Maloff Alex Plotnikoff Masha N. Kalesnikoff Larry J. Berisoff Nicholas N. Ogloff Grace Kavaloff Mike W. Makortoff Peter A. Kavaloff Peter F. Ogloff Mabel Shukin
20 Doris Kalesnikoff Fred F. Hlookoff John N. Sofonoff Mary Ostofooroff Helen Tarasoff George F. Markin Cecil Wanjoff Mike P. Repin Peter N. Zaytsoff
19 Mike Bartsoff William W. Stooshnoff Fred S. Sookorukoff Tina Overennay Peter N. Nevakshonoff Mable W. Pereverzoff Anna Swetlikoff Peter H. Salikin Vera Popoff
18 Martha Stooshnoff William J. Sookorookoff Mabel A. Kanigan Fred E. Chursinoff & Edward W.
Walter A. Gorkoff Polly Hoodikoff Alex G. Maloff Liska Hoddinott Anna L. Hadikin Doris Plotnikoff
17 Pete S. Harshenin Masha I. Bonderoff Agafia A. Shukin Arina V. Anutooshkin Peter F. Perepolkin Peter P. Stuchnow Peter Postnikoff Polly Lebidoff Peter F. Makortoff
16 Fred E. Makaroff Vera Makortoff William W. Rilkoff John H. Horkoff Alex Cheveldave Peter W. Gorkoff Mike Hoodicoff Anastasia Koochin William G. Swetlicoe William Nevakshonoff
15 Mary Fofonow Nora Postnikoff Tom
N. Oglow
William M. Postnikoff Walter Postnikoff Lucy Nevakshonoff Pearl B. Androsoff Nadia Zoobkoff Philip N. Zibin Mary Swetlikoe
14 Tina Rilcoff Polly Androsoff John S. Swetlikoff George N. Strookow Mabel Verigin William J. Poohachoff Martha W. Relkoff Irene Poohachoff Elsie A. Maloff Alex Gleboff
13 Vasily I. Koochin Fred J. Wishloff John W. Nevakoshonoff Matrusha Postnikoff Alex Stooshinoff Margaret Ozeroff Helen Postnikoff Polly Hoodikoff Joseph A. Stoopnikoff Lucy Strukoff
12 Nick A. Nazaroff Masha I. Makortoff Timothy G. Chutskoff Anastasia Ogloff Semeon V. Kalesnikoff Polly T. Chursinoff Peter S. Makortoff Mike M. Sherstobitoff Joe
A. Cheveldave
Lucy Makortoff
11 Aksuta I. Cheveldave Ivan V. Argatoff Pete Perepolkin Gloria D. Plotnikoff William M. Davidoff Lucy N. Rilkoff Mike Postnikoff Elsie C. Relkoff Michael A. Kavaloff Fredrick Markin
10 Polly Posnikoff Alec A. Makortoff Fred S. Voykin Marie Makortoff Mike F. Verigin John A. Gorkoff William J. Lebidoff Lucy Maloff Mary Kavaloff Mickit Nazarov
9 Sam
F.. Makortoff
John A. Makortoff Anna Kalesnikoff Annie Plotnikoff Mary Kabatoff Lucy M. Woykin Sam
W. Postnikoff
Mary P. Obedkoff Dora Plotnikoff Mary Pozdnikoff
8 Nastia Tymofievich Mary J. Repin Peter A. Makortoff Harry Makeiv Helen Evin Helen Chernenkoff Anne Odo Dora Shukin Nellie Lebedoff
7 Anastasia Obedtkoff Peter Golac Polly V. Makeiv Mabel M. Wishloff Polly Harshenin Anna G. Hlookoff Peter Semenoff Mary G. Wanjoff Walter W. Evdomikoff Fred F. Hlookoff
6 Peter L. Woykin Fred N. Horcoff Dora N. Nazaroff Nick Ozeroff John J. Chernof Walter Bartsoff Elsie Shukin Neliie Saprikin Tania Saliken
5 Mike M. Saliken Petar P. Stoochnoff George Nevakshonoff Nora J. Popoff Anastasia Maloff Mary Stoushnow Vera Sherstobitoff William F. Ozeroff Laura A. Markin Vera Sookorukoff
4 Anastasia Ogloff Cecil J. Cheveldave Louie S. Woykin Verna Khadikin William M. Lebedoff Polly W. Konkin John Stooshnoff Alex N. Shukin Mary J. Shukin Annie Shkooratoff
3 George G. Hoodicoff Mike G. Sherstobitoff William F. Wishloff Philip Koochin Petr Kalesnikoff Peter P. Relkoff Nora Plotnikoff Masha V. Argatoff Fred M. Sherstobitoff
2 Anastasia Savenkoff Nick Swetlikoff Daniel Philipoff Michael Chernenkou Winnifred Koorbatoff Bill S. Harshenin Mary Argatoff Mary Wanjoff Nellie Horkoff Samuel P. Rilkoff
1 Frank Savenkoff William W. Hoodicoff Harold Guillemin Nellie N. Kinakin William N. Koorbatoff Koozma W. Zoobkoff Fred Shukin Elizabeth Popoff Molly Makeiff Nick Arishenkoff


Brilliant Cemetery Map (Rows 1 – 8)

Map of Brilliant Cemetery
Brilliant, British Columbia

Rows 1 – 8


8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
58 Fred W. Plotnikoff Philip Wanjoff
57 Laura Makayev
56 Bill W. Philipoff Samuel Lazareff
55 William W. Plotnikoff Fedosia Lazareff
54 Fred Stoushnow
53 William F. Plotnikoff Fydor I. Bonderoff
52 Phillip G. Wanjoff
51 Anna I. Plotnikoff
50 Donia Salekin
49 Ann N. & Edward Chernoff Mikhailo S. Plotnikoff
48 Alex A. Markin John P. Cheveldaeff Ivan S. Wishloff P.N. Maloff
47 Walter P. Abrossimoff
46 Olga Chernoff Vera Wanjoff
45 Fred N. Saliken Mary Cheveldave Anthony Wanjoff
44 Alexei Perepolkin Martha Oglow Robert C. Jmaiff George A. Popoff
43 Alex W. Gleboff Ivan M. Makortoff Mary W. Popoff Tania A. Kalesnikoff Dasha Verigin
42 Pete M. Cheveldaeff Agafia G. Markin Agafia Semenoff Koozma S. Postnikoff
41 Nora Tayzoff Mary Bonderoff  & Nick N. Seminoff John G. Hoodicoff Mary Streloff
40 Andrei I. Obedkoff Vasily M. Gorkoff Nick A. Shukin Lucy Popoff Pelagea A. Zoobkoff & Elaine Horcoff Koozma J. Astoforoff Nikolai Markin Paul Drozdoff
39 William J. Wishlow Andrei I. Popoff Agafia S. Ogloff Sam C. Harsennin Mary A. Zoobkoff Diane Cheveldave
38 Masha N. Nimanihin Frederick W. Zoobkoff William J. Evdokimoff Vasily M. Verigin Anastasia N. Makortoff
37 Anna Horcoff Doonia I. Gorkoff Doonia I. Verigin Martha I. Samarodin
36 Joseph P. Shukin Ivan I. Gorkoff Helen Drozdoff
35 Agafia N. Repin Ivan Koochin Masha P. Strukoff Ivan S. Androsoff Semeon S. Perehudoff Nora J. Postnikoff
34 Mary L. Soukeroff John G. Doubinin Doonia Perehudoff
33 Mike M. Harshenin Mary A. Swetlikoff Matrusha M. Doubinin
32 Anna A. Markin Sam Vanjoff George Gorkoff
31 Andrew M. Shlakoff Gavril G. Cheveldave Mary J. Evdokimoff Fred W. Maloff Irene Trubitskoff
30 Mikhailo V. Soukeroff Margaret Plotnikoff Fred F. Maloff Larry G. Makeiff
29 Sergei V. Plotnikoff Michael J. Hrooshkin Bill Tymofievich K.P. Verigin
28 John W. Hrooshkin Matrusha V. Maloff Mike Cheveldave Mikhailo D. Bidinoff Grisha I. Kinakin
27 Mary Hrooshkin Anna P. Makortoff
26 Aksinya I. Zibin George W. Nevakshonoff Nick S. Zibin
25 Sam F. Salekin Evdokia I. Ozeroff M.H.K Maria G. Koochin
24 Fydor P. Obetkoff Ignat M. Overennay
23 Vasily N. Markin Ivan G. Chernoff Peter P. Osochoff Masha P. Morosoff
22 Anna A. Hlookoff Louise Rilkoff William F. Semenoff Agafia N. Lebedoff Peter P. Semenoff Peter W. Maloff
21 Hanusha Zibin Peter P. Anutooshkin Joseph J. Davidoff Paul Trubetskoff
20 Peter F. Repin Annie Malow
19 William N. Ogloff Bill E. Overennay Petr I. Rilkoff Polly A. Wishloff
17 Fred H. Kanigan Martha Lazareff Polly Kalesnikoff
16 Anna A. Chernoff Mikhailo M. Morosoff Helen Hancheroff
15 Walter Hancheroff
14 Fanny L. Popoff William W. Wishloff
13 Nick N. Semenoff Andy P. Ziestsov Anistasia F. Sookarukoff Tina Sofonoff
12 Peter P. Ziestsov Avdotia A. Nancy Cheveldave
11 Nikolai M. Semenoff Mikhailo V. Overennay William Chernoff Anna Zibin
10 Ganya P. Tarasoff Philip S. Pictin
9 Peter N. Horcoff Dora N. Pictin Anna V. Shlakoff
8 Peter N. Horcoff Fedosia Pictin William W. Lazareff Lukeria M. Overennay
7 Anyta V. Plotnikoff Polly D. Koochin
6 Fydor S. Makaroff Ivan P. Makeiv & Anna Hollybow  John Makeiv
5 Anastasia P. Makaroff Pelagea V. Makortoff
4 Fred J. Koftinoff
3 Ivan M. Koftinoff Polly Koftinoff P.S. Cheveldave Mary N. Saliken
2 Fred F. Koftinoff Barry J. Kinakin Semeon V. Holuboff
1 Nick N. Kinakin Agafia A. Holuboff

Brilliant-Cemetery Map (Rows 9 – 17)

Map of
Brilliant Cemetery
Brilliant, British Columbia

Rows 9 – 17


17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9
47 Andrew A. Obedkoff
46 Pearl D. Obedkoff
45 Masha &>Thomas Barisinkoff Peter A. Rilkoff
44 John Negreiff Sam Stooshnoff
43 Lena L. Negreiff Molly W. Stoochnoff
42 John M. Negreiff Pete A. Stoochnoff
41 Alec A. Stoopnikoff
40 John Hershenin
39 George P. Anutooshkin
38 Fannie Horcoff
37 Anna V. Makaroff
36 John Makortoff
35 George Konkin Masha P. Plotnikoff
34 Peter P. Makortoff Vasily A. Holoboff Wasel S. Harshenin
33 Vasily D. Picton Vasily Holoboff
32 Avdotia Lazeroff Masha A. Holuboff Ann A. Shlakoff
31 Michael M. Soukoroff
30 Mary J. Wishloff
29 Pete & Polly W. Sookoroff
28 Tina Evdokimoff
27 Peter Evdokimoff
25 Mabel Wanjoff
24 Johnny Vanjoff
23 Fedor I. Wanjoff
22 Peter F. Hlookoff
19 William Cheveldave
6 Michael S. Androsoff
5 Avdotia C. Nazaroff
4 Alex Kinakin
1 Makortoff