The CCUB, or Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, was a highly successful communal enterprise in Canada, started shortly after the Doukhobors that migrated to Canada in 1899, and thrived until its demise in 1938.
During its ‘golden years’ the Enterprise or ‘Community’ was successful in its development and operation of cheese factories, lumber mills, flour (grain) mills, brick factories, tailor shops, and in 1910, started the world-famous KC Preservatives Jam Factory in Brilliant BC, opposite Castlegar on the Columbia River.
In the Kootenay Boundary region of BC, there were some 90 communal villages (the Doukhobor Village Museum in Castlegar was modelled after one of these typical villages).
The communal lifestyle, where sometimes 12 families would live together in one home, was also a solution to a problem where, in the early years, both money and materials were in short supply. During the height of the CCUB, it had built some 90 such villages.
It’s hard for us, who today live in our own homes, townhomes, or apartments, to imagine living with 10 or so other families under one roof. Bedrooms of course were designated, but instead of ‘your’ kitchen, it was ‘everyone’s’ kitchen. The house you lived in was thus not ‘yours’ – it belonged to the ‘community’ – and everyone who lived there. Nothing can tell the story of how this communal lifestyle truly was, but people who actually lived in these dwellings, during those time. Only a few of these people are still alive today.
Polly Seminoff - Comparing Communal Life and Life Today.
By 1913, the communal enterprise (or ‘community’) built a suspension bridge linking Brilliant to a self-developed road system on the Ooteschenie side of the Kootenay River (near the confluence of the Kootenay/Columbia Rivers). This is one of the most enduring structures the CCUB left behind.
The bridge was built by 40 members of the CCUB. The construction took seven months to complete, 6 days per week, and 11 hour days. The cost was $60,000 then, and the BC government contributed $10,000 in 1913 and $9,500 in 1914.
The bridge was used by locals until 1965 when a multi-lane highway and bridge was built and the older bridge was slated for demolition. Today, a local committee’s efforts have been noticed and the move is on to restore this bridge as a walking bridge.
Despite sociological and economical strains of the era, the CCUB enjoyed prosperous times. All this ended in 1938 when the government intervened and caused a foreclosure of the enterprise.
All that is left today is the odd Doukhobor-built house, the bridge (which is now designated as a National Historic site), a plethora of photographs, a few of the living elders who lived during these times, and tales handed down through the generations.
The Doukhobor Discovery Centre is located across from the Airport in Castlegar and is open 10am – 5pm daily from May 1 to September 30.
Contact Us to arrange your tour, bus tours, corporate tours, or school tours today!