Doukhobor Dugout House
Doukhobor Aul Site
Links and documents
1899/01/01 to 1899/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Doukhobor Dugout House is a Provincial Heritage Property consisting of a quarter section of land (65 hectares) located approximately eight kilometres southeast of the town of Blaine Lake in the Rural Municipality of Blaine Lake No. 434. The property features the remains of a log-timber and earthbound dwelling built into the slope of a ravine in the North Saskatchewan River valley. The site also features a fresh water spring and several non-contributing farm buildings from a later time period surrounded by a shelterbelt.
The Doukhobor Dugout House is significant because it illustrates the adaptive housing strategies used by settlers who came to Saskatchewan during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a rare remaining example of early vernacular architecture that uses locally-available building materials and illustrates the determination and resourcefulness of Saskatchewan’s early settlers. When a group of Doukhobors arrived at this site late in the year of 1899, a primary concern was finding shelter for the winter. This site in a sheltered ravine provided not only protection from the weather, but also fresh water from a nearby spring. With limited building materials available, the Doukhobor settlers used the natural landscape to their advantage by excavating a hollow into the slope of the hill to build a temporary home. The excavation was enclosed with three walls built with dovetailed and pegged wood logs and topped by a sod roof. The front wall of the house also had a door and small window. This temporary dwelling was used until 1904 when a more permanent home was built nearby.
The heritage value of the Doukhobor Dugout House also resides in its association with the arrival of Doukhobors in Canada and Saskatchewan. Fleeing religious persecution by the Russian authorities, Doukhobors were offered religious sanctuary by the Canadian government. Between January and September 1899 approximately 7,500 Doukhobors came to Canada. In Saskatchewan the Doukhobors were granted nearly 750,000 acres of land and established three colonies: the South Colony and the North Colony (both north of Yorkton) and the Prince Albert or Saskatchewan Colony (northwest of Saskatoon near Blaine Lake). The Doukhobor Dugout House has come to have great symbolic importance to the descendants of those first settlers and conveys a powerful image of challenges met and overcome.
Province of Saskatchewan, Notice of Intention to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, April 1, 2005.
Province of Saskatchewan, Order to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, June 14, 2005.
The heritage value of the Doukhobor Dugout House resides in the following character-defining elements:
- those elements that relate to the construction of the house, including the log timber structure, dovetailed joints, dowel pins, door hinges and window frames and the excavation into the ravine;
- those elements that reflect the relationship of the house to the surrounding landscape, such as the location of the house in a sheltered ravine hillside;
- those elements that reflect the association with the Doukhobor settlers, such as the remaining evidence of wood joinery and the house’s location on its original site.
Government of Saskatchewan
Heritage Property Act, s. 39(1)
Provincial Heritage Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Conservation Branch,
Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport,
3211 Albert Street,
Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 5W6
Cross-Reference to Collection