Historic Brilliant Bridge
The Historic Brilliant Suspension Bridge is located just upstream from the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, approximately 6 kilometers north of Castlegar along highway 3A. It spans the Kootenay River where at the time of its construction in 1913, it connected Brilliant, the business and industrial centre of a recently established Doukhobor community, with its agricultural property and numerous village sites at Dolina Ootischenia on the opposite side of the river.
The bridge consisted of two paired concrete towers supporting massive steel cables from which was suspended a structural steel wood-surfaced deck. The bridge design and supervision of construction was undertaken by a Vancouver firm while the bridge itself was built entirely by Doukhobor work crews using traditional hand-tools and techniques. Construction was completed in a remarkable period of only seven months at a cost of $60,000 dollars, approximately 2/3 of which was financed by the Doukhobors and 1/3 by the provincial government. It served the local traffic needs of the Doukhobor CCUB and later the USCC community as well as other local and regional residents, for over 50 years until it was finally closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the late 1960’s.
Replaced and overshadowed by a modern highway bridge, the Brilliant Suspension Bridge has been derelict since then, but it now is destined to play a part in the future development of the local cultural landscape, with its recent restoration and preservation as a Doukhobor heritage symbol as well as for its role as a functional component of a wider community recreational plan. Thanks to the diligent work of the Restoration Committee, the help of the Historical Services Branch of the BC Government and the support of the local regional district and municipal governments, the Brilliant Suspension Bridge has finally received status as a Canadian National Heritage Site.
Read an informative paper about the bridge by Dr. Wiliam Wylie (Historical Services Branch, BC Government) presented at a meeting with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1995, in support of the Brilliant Bridge as a heritage site.
1995 Historic sites and Monuments Agenda (pdf format requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
One hundred years after its construction, the Brilliant Bridge has been honoured by Heritage BC with its highest award — Outstanding Achievement — for the recent restoration and preservation of the historic structure. The award was presented at a ceremony in Burnaby on October 18th 2013 to the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Concreate Ltd. and McGinn Engineering and Preservation “for the care and commitment demonstrated in the completion of this important project.”