Peter V. Verigin purchased the first properties in Waterloo in 1908. By 1913, holdings were 14,000 acres and 5000 Doukhobors had moved to British Columbia.
In 1910 they arranged a horsepower cable ferry to link Brilliant with Ootishenie. It wasn't sufficient and 'Lordly' decided on a physical link. He appealed to the BC government to have a bridge built with no result.
He decided the Doukhobor commune could do it. He engaged an engineering firm, Cartwright, Matheson & Company. Plans were prepared by J. R. Grant, under the supervision of A. M. Truesdale.
The workers were a Russian oral culture faced with blueprints drawn up in English. ‘They saw it and built from it'.
And build they did; construction began in April 1913 and was completed in October. Forty Doukhobors were the work party, hundreds more did supply and parts work. Most of the work was done by hand and wheelbarrows.
The result was a magnificent edifice of reinforced concrete and steel spanning 331 feet with towers rising 48 feet; one of the most advanced suspension bridges of its day.
Soon the bridge was used by the entire community and the provincial government contributed $19,500 of the total $60,000 cost.
According to the position paper there were no injuries, but there were deaths during construction: Harry Voykin, interviewed , relates, "It is a monument and reminder of the people who died and were injured. One day the dynamite exploded. One worker was blasted right into the door. Another was deaf from then on and four died".
Many hunters and smokers were using the bridge. The Doukhobors placed a sign on it which read: STRICTLY PROHIBITED SMOKING AND TRESPASSING WITH FIREARMS OVER THIS BRIDGE.
When the new bridge was built, access to the old bridge was cut off and in the 1970s it faced demolition. Then Mayor of Castlegar, Mike O'Connor, managed to save it.
Through the efforts of this writer and others, the bridge was designated an Historic Monument and the plaque was unveiled at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre in April, 2008.
In part, it reads: . . . This historic bridge commemorates an achievement of the Doukhobors of Canada . . . this structure stands as an enduring symbol of the collective toil . . . and their contribution to Canada's development.
In May of 2010, the newly renovated bridge was reopened and now takes its place as a highlight of the Trans Canada Trail.
See Doukhobor items at: http://doukhoborstore.com