Memories of Orchards and Raspberries at Raspberry Village, British
William M. Rozinkin
1932, Community Doukhobors established a village settlement across the
Columbia River from Castlegar, British Columbia. Situated near a large
communal raspberry plantation, they named it Malinvoye, meaning “raspberry”
in Russian. It was considered a "model" village in layout and construction.
The following article by Kootenay resident and historian William M. Rozinkin
(1923-2007) recalls memories of orchards and raspberries in the community
known today as Raspberry, British Columbia. Reproduced by permission from
ISKRA No. 1844 (December 17, 1997). Photos by Greg Nesteroff.
It was soon
after Peter Chistiakov Verigin arrived in Canada from Russia to accept
the leadership post of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood
in 1927 that the Doukhobor community acquired a forested area near the
Robson ferry landing for a new village settlement.
The new brick village was to be known as the Raspberry Village. It would
stand looking across the Columbia River at Castlegar.
Before village construction began, land clearing was well under way and
in 1929, men and teen-aged boys started planting fruit-tree saplings on
the newly cleared land.
Gradually, the trees of the forest were replaced with fruit trees that
would, in time, mature to bear apples, pears, peaches, apricots,
cherries, and sour cherries, along with several varieties of berries for
Raspberry Village as it looks today. It is one of the few survivors
whose history can be linked with memories
of the early years of Castlegar, Robson, Brilliant and the Robson-Castlegar
ferry. Photo by Greg Nesteroff.
After the trees were planted, they were watered by dozens of teenaged
girls who came from Brilliant and Ootischenia to help. For several days
they carried countless pails of water from the Columbia River to give
each newly planted young tree a full pail.
Nastia Ivanovna Masloff of Ootischenia, who was one of the teenagers at
that time, still remembers how she worked with her many friends,
carrying water for the young trees. Mr. Verigin was in charge of the
whole operation, while Gaston Pozdnikoff supervised their work in the
new orchard, she said.
It was after days of labour that the project of planting and watering
came to an end.
On the final day, Mr. Verigin invited all the working girls to come to
Brilliant and all of them together — the girls, Mr. Verigin, and Mr.
Pozdnikoff, walked from the place of their work close to the Robson
ferry landing, to the courtyard of his residence where Brilliant
villagers had prepared a nice supper for all of them. It was served
outdoors on two long tables specially set for the occasion.
After the meal was finished, Mr. Verigin gave an inspiring speech that
stressed the importance of the need for cooperation among people to work
together. When people work in harmony, together they can accomplish
great things in life, just as you have done during the last several
days, he said, and thanked them for their dedicated hard work.
Mr. Verigin, who was the president of the Christian Community of
Universal Brotherhood, also explained the important need to enlarge the
community orchards and showed his gratitude for their help as he walked
around the tables and gave each girl a five dollar bill.
Mrs. Masloff recently recalled the planted orchard, the supper, and the
five dollar bill he gave her and her friends.
"He suggested that we could buy nice clothing for ourselves with the
money, which we accepted with sincere gratitude. It was during the
Canadian Depression years and five dollars was a lot of money," she
Following the construction of the village in 1932, that was named after
the raspberry plantation nearby, several families with their children,
from Brilliant, came to live in it and take care of the orchards,
gardens and berry bearing bushes and plants. They were: Peter Relkoff
family, Fred Relkoff family, William Makortoff family, Peter Makortoff
family, William Sherstobitoff family, and Mike Sherstobitoff family.
William Evdokimoff family also came to stay for a short period of time.
The new village also had a new water system that used wooden pipes made
in the community's wooden pipe factory located in the industrial complex
of Kamennoye in Ootischenia, along the shores of the Kootenay River.
Those pipes served the village for many years and irrigated the orchards
that the teen-aged girls first watered by carrying pails of water from
the Columbia River.
Close-up of the right (east) Raspberry Village dom. Photo by Greg
In 1967 I visited 88-year-old John J. Popoff, who had worked in the
wooden pipe factory and 78-year-old William A. Makortoff, who was living
in the Raspberry Village at that time, along with Peter A. Reibin (79),
who worked on many community projects, and they all agreed that the
water pipes used for the water supply line from the Pass Creek intake
for the village were indeed the last ones made at the factory at the
beginning of the 1930's. This factory began its operations in 1915, just
11 years after the first wooden pipe factory was built in Canada. It
ceased operations in Kamennoye after all community water works were
completed to about 90 villages.
With its good water supply the village provided agricultural work for
its residents, who not only grew farm produce for themselves but also
took wagonloads of fruit to the Brilliant fruit packing house, along
with cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, raspberries, strawberries and
other berries to the Kootenay-Columbia Jam Factory, also in Brilliant,
where jam-making facilities were doubled from twelve jam-making kettles
to twenty-four kettles under Mr. Verigin's administration.
But those were the hard years of the '30s marked with great unemployment
that gripped Canada and became known as the times of the great Canadian
Depression that also affected the CC of UB income which fell
drastically. Adding to this hardship were the Freedomite attacks on
community property which increased at this time. Among these attacks,
under the darkness of night, was the bombing of the Brilliant water-line
in 1932, the year families with children were moving into the new
village. Many other depredations included their destruction of the Grand
Forks CC of UB Jam Factory in 1935, and later, a sawmill and planer-mill
in Glade, both of which were important revenue producing operations.
It appears all this contributed in its own way to the collapse of needed
financial support for the survival of the Doukhobor communities of the
Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood in 1938-39. Events that
followed subsequently led to the B.C. Government Land Settlement Board
offering all former CC of UB property and lands for sale back to
interested community residents, after it was subdivided into lots and
The years that followed saw the Raspberry Village with its orchards,
buildings, and lands being acquired for private individual ownership,
just like the rest of the community lands and buildings in other regions
Construction of homes in the Raspberry subdivision started in 1962 when
Alex A. Pereverzoff and his wife Nancy were first attracted to that area
and started to build their home for their family of four children.
Shortly after, Sam and Pauline Kalesnikoff followed them and purchased
land for their family home.
Other homes followed and each one was connected to the original village
water-line. As needs and problems grew, it was necessary to replace the
old water system. To meet their needs, homeowners in the subdivision
organized themselves, and had another pipeline built to bring water from
Today more than one hundred homeowners identify their homes as being in
the Raspberry Village subdivision.
Close-up of the left (west) Raspberry Village dom. Note modified front
entrance. Photo by Greg Nesteroff.
The brick village itself also saw changes when it was bought by private
individuals and remodelled to accommodate living and care facilities for
the aged and infirm. It served those who were in need of this care for
several years before closing its doors.
George W. Rilkoff is one of many who lives in that area and remembers
the orchards, raspberries and gardens that used to grace those many
acres. After living there for more than 30 years, he saw many changes,
including fruit trees removed to make room for new homes, and said that
today only a few fruit trees survive from the original orchard.
Recently I visited Alex Petrovich and Nellie Petrovna Verigin whose home
is near the village. When Nellie was eight years old, she came with her
parents, Peter and Martha Relkoff, to live in the newly constructed
village in 1932. There were four children in that family, Helen, Peter,
Laura and her.
Today she remembers life in that village, the orchards, the fertile land
above the village with its plantations of raspberries, strawberries, and
rows of black currants, along with large vegetable and watermelon
Everybody, including children, worked hard, especially when berries
ripened in the summer. Often, within hours of picking the fresh-ripened
berries, special wooden pails were filled with them and delivered by
horse and wagon to the Brilliant Jam Factory, because berry and fruit
freshness contributed greatly to the exceptional quality of the jam, she
said. She also added with a smile, that it was not uncommon for them to
sing folk songs and happy hymns while working, for it added a bit of fun
to the work.
The village also had a small fruit-packing shed. When fruit ripened it
was packed into crates and taken with other farm produce on a remodelled
light delivery truck to be sold door-to-door in Trail. Andrew Abetkoff
and Mike Sherstobitoff usually took care of this work. While most of the
fruit was taken by wagon to the CC of UB packing house in Brilliant for
shipments to prairie markets, this small venture brought additional
revenue for the Doukhobor community that was striving to meet its
mortgage and tax payments during those years of unemployment.
Nellie Petrovna Verigin also recalled her school days that saw all her
school-aged friends walking a mile on the gravel highway to the new
Brilliant brick school on the corner where the Pass Creek road meets the
With Peter Chistiakov Verigin being a strong supporter of education,
construction of this school by the CC of UB began immediately after the
Raspberry Village was finished. It had two classrooms and, between them,
private living quarters for the two teachers.
When the school opened its doors in 1934, the two teachers, Margaret
MacDonald and Eileen Horswill, were there when pupils from Brilliant and
Raspberry Village filled the two classrooms to study in grades that
ranged from one to eight.
On the way to school, village children had to walk past rows of
raspberries, also grown for the jam factory. These rows stretched from
the highway bridge that was across the Pass Creek to the Pass Creek road
junction, just below the school. This plantation was looked after by
Brilliant community residents.
Today, the only reminder of those raspberries that grew there is a sign
that indicates the first exit from the highway to the residential homes
that are just below the school. It reads, Raspberry Road.
It was 21 years after the village was built that its residents had a
special celebration. The happy occasion was the wedding of John
Ivanovich Verigin and Laura Petrovna Relkoff, on June 27, 1953.
The wedding ceremony began at the bride's family residence in the
village and continued at the groom's home in Brilliant, where hundreds
of well-wishers and guests celebrated the happy occasion. (The ceremony
was duplicated at the official Sirotskoye residence in Grand Forks on
the next day, Sunday, June 28, 1953.)
For their close friends the wedding was a result of a budding and
binding love that blossomed and saw the bride, who grew up in the
Raspberry Village, marry the groom who was the grandson of Peter
Chistiakov Verigin, under whose guidance that village was built.
Both of them had attended classes in the Brilliant School that has since
become more well-known as the Raspberry School.
Rear view of the original Raspberry Village doms facing south towards
Castlegar. Photo by Greg Nesteroff.