National Historic Site of Canada

National Historic Site designation photo gallery>>

A ceremony officially designating Doukhobor Dugout House as a National Historic Site of Canada was held in July 2013. The Government of Canada made the designation on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC). A commemorative plaque highlighting the importance of the dugout house in Canada was unveiled. The inscription reads:

Doukhobor Dugout House
This dugout house, built by Russian Doukhobor immigrants in 1899, is the only known surviving example of this form of temporary shelter in Canada. It recalls the hardships faced by many settlers of various ethnic backgrounds upon their arrival on the Prairies and the practical solutions they adopted in a setting largely devoid of trees. These dwellings were soon replaced by more permanent housing as required under the Dominion Lands Act. This site is part of a landscape of farm buildings and archaeological remains that speaks to the evolution of Doukhobor communities on the Prairies.

Constructed in 1899, the house is a rare surviving example of a practical and temporary form of initial shelter constructed not only by Doukhobors, but also by many settlers of various ethnic backgrounds upon their arrival on the Canadian prairies. These initial and expedient dwellings were typically replaced as quickly as possible by more permanent ones, as required under the conditions of the homestead policy in the Dominion Lands Act.

Doukhobor Dugout House received notification in late August, 2008, that the property has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

A letter from the then-Minister of the Environment John Baird indicated that the designation of the property had been approved by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada because the Board recognized the national significance of the Doukhobor Dugout House.

In its minutes of the meeting, the Board noted the following:

The Committees and the Board recommended the Doukhobor Dugout House for designation as a national historic site because:

  • It is the only known partially surviving example of a practical and temporary form of shelter constructed not only by Doukhobors, but also by many settlers of various ethnic backgrounds upon their arrival on the Canadian prairies, and which played a crucial role in its settlement. These initial and expedient dwellings were replaced as quickly as possible by more permanent ones, as required under the conditions of homesteading under the Dominion Lands Act; and,
  • It is closely and emotionally associated with the earliest history of the Doukhobors in Canada. It recalls the tremendous hardships faced by these and other early settlers and the practical ways in which they met and overcame them.

Watch the video about the unveiling of the plaque designating
Doukhobor Dugout House as a National Historic Site.

Government dignitaries and the Doukhobor Dugout House founder and supporters unveil the trilingual (English, Russian and French) plaque in July, 2013 to commemmorate the designation as a National Historic Site.

Official program of the ceremony designating Doukhobor Dugout House as a National Historic Site of Canada.

View, print or download the program (PDF) >>

For many years I have thought about this day. I have thought about all that has happened. All the planning, meetings, archeology, tourism, Provincial Designation, Saskatchewan Architect Award, and now this special Designation from the National Historical Monuments Board.

Personally for me the Doukhobor Dugout House was a huge undertaking. My drive and determination to accomplish the National Designation makes this a great honor. The loss and grief of my fathers passing in 2001 struck a core for all of us to enjoy this historical treasure.

As most of you are aware this was my father's dream, which gave me the perseverance to accomplish his dream, as he no longer could.

His interest in the Dugout House has brought me closer to my Doukhobor heritage. Over the 10 years I have met many new faces a long the way. Thank you to all of those that have helped get the cave site where it is today. Many of you hold a special place in my heart.

During my journey I have had the opportunity to work with government and academic departments such as architect, archeology, environment, conservation, and preservation, which in return has been very rewarding. I have had the privilege of historians teaching me the historical facts of the Doukhobors. Our ancestors that lived here and strived to survive here will never be forgotten.

It is my heart felt pleasure to bring greetings as the site owner on behalf of my husband Dan, my daughter Clearisha, Donna Perhudoff–Choppe who represents the tourism outreach education of the Doukhobor Dugout House, and most importantly to you, Dad, may you now rest in eternal peace. As I now need to live in peace.


Brenda Cheveldayoff, Founder