VERIGIN MEMORIAL PARK
Verigin Memorial Park is a Doukhobor burial site and flower garden located on a hillside approximately 2.5 km off Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson. It is a tranquil place with spectacular scenic views of the Kootenay and Columbia River Valleys. The meticulously manicured flower gardens and grounds are funded and maintained by the USCC organization with support from other Doukhobor societies and friends.
The Verigin Tomb contains the remains of Peter V. Verigin and his son, Peter P. Verigin as well as their wives. Also buried on this site are the remains of Peter P. Verigin’s daughter, Anna P. Markova and her son, the late Honourary Chairman of the USCC, John J. Verigin. As capable leaders, the Verigins have made an immense contribution to the Doukhobor movement in the past two centuries in both a practical and spiritual sense, earning the great respect and loyalty of their followers. To this day, the local community holds annual commemorative services to remember and celebrate the dedication and commitment of the Verigins and indeed, the dedication of all ancestors who committed their lives to peace and universal brotherhood.
There is little remaining evidence of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB), the vast communal agro-industrial complex, the central headquarters of which once occupied the river banks below the Verigin Park between 1908 and 1938. Peter V. Verigin administered this community (the largest experiment in communal living ever undertaken in North America) until his untimely death in 1924. This burial site was chosen for its central yet panoramic vantage point, along what was then the main highway. It was also near Peter Verigin’s beautiful hillside home from which he overlooked with satisfaction and pride, the prosperity of the communities below.
The original Verigin tomb was constructed of dark polished marble, with classical colonnades and carved relief panels. It was garnished with two symmetrically placed stone carvings of wheat sheaves that represented one of his well known slogans – “Toil and Peaceful Life”. A number of remnants of the original tomb remain as artifacts, the tomb itself having been reconstructed of more modest concrete. The park is open to the public in the summer season and a modern guest house with visual displays and restrooms has been recently constructed for the benefit of park visitors.
Peter Vasilyevich Verigin – was born June 29, 1859 in the village of Slavyanka in the province of Elizavetpol in the Transcaucasian Region of Russia (now Azerbaijan). He was also known affectionately as “Petyushka” and respectfully as “Peter Lordly”. He died on October 29, 1924, from injuries in an unexplained train explosion near the railway station at Farron, close to the summit of the Blueberry Paulson highway. He was the first of the Verigins to be interred at this burial site.
Peter Petrovich Verigin – Peter Lordly’s son, was born January 2, 1881, also in Slavyanka (like his father), in the province of Elizavetpol. He succeeded his father in leading the CCUB Doukhobors in Canada from 1927 until the collapse of the community in 1938. Despite ill health in his latter years, he restructured the CCUB into our current organization – the USCC. Peter P. Verigin “Chistyakov” (the “Cleanser”) died in Saskatoon, Sask. on February 11, 1939, and was buried beside the remains of his father.
John J. Verigin – was born in Orlovka, Georgia on December 6, 1921. He lost his father prior to his birth and was separated from his mother at age six. Brought to Canada in 1928 by his grandfather, Peter P Verigin, John Verigin acted as his assistant until his death, after which time he was proclaimed Secretary of the USCC at 18 years of age. He served as the Honourary Chairman of the USCC from 1960 to 2008, in effect becoming the longest serving leader in Doukhobor history. During his 70 years of service, John J. Verigin received many honours (which he proudly accepted in the name of the people he served), including the Freeman of the City of Grand Forks, the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada, and the Soviet Order of Peoples’ Friendship. He died on October 26, 2008 and was laid to rest near his mother.
The daughter of Peter Petrovich Verigin, and mother of the late honourary chairman of the USCC (John J. Verigin), Anna Petrovna Markova was born on January 01, 1902, living a tragic life in the Soviet Union, unjustly spending 15 years in exile, separated from her family. She immigrated to Canada in 1960 where she died on September 13, 1978. Her courage, strength and wisdom will forever remain an inspiration to all Doukhobors. She is buried on the grounds of the tomb, near her father.