Historic and present-day Castlegar is now featured on a futuristic app that showcases specific sites around Canada and what they used to look like last century. The On This Spot app, is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, and its mission is to “take people on guided walking tours through the history that surrounds them.” Working with heritage, tourism, and business organizations across Canada, the app is expanding its coverage and now features 30 cities, including Castlegar. Users simply download the app to their smartphone, pick the city, and then follow the walking instructions to various locations where a historic photo was taken. They can view a then and now photo comparison, use the built in camera to create their own, and read about local history and how it ties into the broader human experience.

The app is free to download and is built on sets of historical photos paired with contrasting current photographs that show how a specific spot has changed over time. The self-guided tour of Castlegar includes 12 different stops as well as write-ups about the city, a large portion of which is dedicated to the Doukhobor heritage in the region. Part of it reads, “The Doukhobors are a pacifist Christian sect who came to Canada around the turn of the last century, fleeing persecution in Tsarist Russia… They were led to the Castlegar area by Peter ‘Lordly’ Verigin, where they established dozens of small farming settlements, called doms, especially on the east side of the Columbia River, an area they named Ootischenia. They planted fruit orchards and set up a jam factory at Brilliant, which is the subject of our walking tour.”

On This Spot also created a free 360° virtual museum tour for the Doukhobor Discovery Centre so app users who are not in Castlegar can still visit from the comfort of their own home.

Click the image to take a virtual tour of the Doukhobor Discovery Centre.

The walking tour starts at the scenic Brilliant Suspension Bridge, which was built by the Doukhobors in 1913 and declared a National Historic Site in 1995. In the last years of the 20th Century, restorations began on the bridge and it was finally reopening to foot traffic in 2010. The tour then continues across the river and along Brilliant Road where the famous Doukhobor jam factory once stood. “The Doukhobors who settled in British Columbia were immensely hardworking, setting up a number of successful industries, including a prosperous jam factory, while also living in communal village settlements,” On This Spot writes. “They were steadfast in their beliefs of equality and pacifism and wanted to live in accordance with their religious principles with minimal government intervention…While Doukhobors in British Columbia no longer live in communal village settlements, their culture and traditions have survived despite intensive assimilation pressure.”

There are also fascinating images of steam ships on the app as well as railway stations and crowds of people standing where now there are only empty lots and fields. For more about the app, visit On This Spot and to take the virtual tour of the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, visit onthisspot.ca/virtual/doukhobor.