Bowmanville Author Explores
Russia's Royal History
Bowmanville author Paul Gilbert's fascination with Russia's royal history led to 'Royal Russia',
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CLARINGTON -- A local historian is shedding new light on the history of the Russian monarchy.
Paul Gilbert says studying the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917 has been his life-long passion.
The Bowmanville resident recently published Royal Russia, a collectors' magazine that features his work and articles by Russian historians.
It also features more than 100 rare photographs, collected by Gilbert over more than 30 years.
"The monarch history is still honoured in modern-day Russia," he says. "You can literally go back in history by visiting sites such as the palaces that have been preserved or the museums that display the artwork and treasures."
Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty coming to power in Russia. The monarchy ruled for almost 300 years and lost power during the February Revolution of 1917. It was during this difficult time that Russia came under communist rule and members of the royal family were forced to flee the country or were killed.
"My theory is that the Soviet Union seized a golden opportunity while Russia was weak because of the First World War," says Gilbert. "The Soviet Union tried to turn Russians against the royal family and wanted to create a negative image of them."
He has been collecting research and photographs that the Soviet Union kept hidden for years, until its fall in 1991.
The history buff was born in Cornwall, England but has no Russian background. His family immigrated to Canada when he was four.
Gilbert's interest in Russian history began as a child when he received a book filled with photographs of the royal family. He says he was immediately intrigued and has since devoted his life to studying the monarchy.
The University of Alberta graduate is working towards a language certificate at the University of Toronto. He has visited Russia 20 times to collect research for his publications and website.
"The Romanov dynasty provided Russia with a source of national pride," he says. "It's also important for Canada because many Russians immigrated to Canada following the revolution."
Canada was also a safe haven for some members of the royal family when they fled the Soviet Union. The Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna brought her family to Toronto, where she lived for 12 years until dying of cancer.
"It's amazing because there are more documents being discovered all the time," says Gilbert. "Last month more than 30,000 documents were found during a renovation of a university library in Moscow; they tore down a wall and found diaries, photographs and other treasures."
Royal Russia can be purchased for $20 + postage online at www.amazon.com or through Gilbert's website, www.royalrussia.org.
Source & Copyright: Clarington This Week