After the families moved out of the dugout to the village of Oospenie nearby, the dugout was used for other purposes, such as a root cellar.
In the summer of 2004, the Dugout House was the subject of an investigation by the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Archaeology. The study was preceded by a traditional Doukhobor prayer service.
Under the guidance of graduate student Meagan Brooks, and with a large amount of community help, a baseline of measurement for archaeological units was established, underbrush was cleared, surface artifacts removed, and volunteers were trained to do screening, to scrape the soil, and to study findings.
The Doukhobor Dugout House is found on the homestead of the Cheveldayoff family near Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, on a bend of the North Saskatchewan River where one party of Doukhobors first settled upon immigrating to Canada.
For five years 300 people lived in dugout houses. One dugout was home to nine families who cooked and slept in an area of about 436 square feet.
Five babies were born that winter; one of them is buried at the top of the hill to the north. With no money and little resources, these vegetarian pacifists were bent on survival. As men went to work on the railroads in the summer months, the women hitched themselves to the plows to turn over land for gardens.
Every artifact found in the house has significance -- an oven door, a button, some pottery, an old shoe -- all poignant memories of life in those five early years, 1899-1904.
Photos and drawing of archaeological activity on this page and the photo album courtesy Meagan Brooks
In the summer of 2004, the Dugout House was the subject of an investigation by the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Archaeology, conducted under the guidance of graduate student Meagan Brooks.
With much community help, a baseline of measurement for archaeological units was established, underbrush was cleared, surface artifacts removed, and volunteers were trained to do screening, to scrape the soil, and to study findings.
The outcome of the investigations was Meagan's Master's thesis, Public Archaeology With a Doukhobor Descendant Community, which has been successfully defended. We congratulate Meagan on her thesis and Masters Degree.
The archaeological dig was a most memorable experience for the participants, and an excellent example of a group investigating and preserving its own history.
Click any of the photos below to see the larger version, and toggle through the photo gallery