Doukhobor Discovery Centre
Watch the weavers and spinner at work, view personal possessions and large communal living spaces and shop for unique crafts at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre. Explore the gardens and find out which famous novelist was a benefactor to the sect. You can also visit a blacksmith shop and traditional sauna.
The Doukhobor people first settled in this area in 1908 when around 5,000 people were forced to give up their land in Saskatchewan. Around 60 villages sprung up over the course of 5 years and the Doukhobor Discovery Centre showcases how these settlements would have worked.
The best way to see the settlement is to take one of the village tours. These begin in the Audio Visual Centre, where old slides and films provide evocative images of the time. Once you’ve seen these, head into the communal dwelling. Look through the large kitchen and dining area where the women would cook for up to 50 people daily. Head upstairs to see the bedrooms. Chronologically arranged décor allows you to see how the styles changed from the early days of the settlement to the 1930s. You will also see several personal items that belonged to early settlers.
Explore the gardens and you will find a large statue of the Russian novelist Tolstoy. He was a sympathizer with the Doukhobor people and donated money to assist in setting up their communes.
Don’t miss the Selkirk Weavers Room. Here you can see spinners and weavers giving live displays. Head to the gift shop to buy some of the crafts they create. Fabrics such as hemp and cotton are dyed with natural colorings and turned into rugs, tablecloths and more.
Explore the grounds further and you will discover the “banya,” a traditional sauna that was used to dry clothes. Close by you will see a blacksmith’s shop that contains original tools and materials.
The Doukhobor Discovery Centre is located opposite the West Kootenay Regional Airport. It is open daily from May to September and there is a small charge for entry.