Monday, 1 February 2016

Q67: P. V. Verigin against Independent Doukhobors?

From: Kim Kanigan, Australia, January 26, 2016:

I read in numerous accounts that in 1914 Peter V. Verigin told the Canadian government that Independent Doukhobors, who leave his commune, do not deserve military exemption.
  • What is the source of this statement?
  • Is there a document to proof this?
  • Where can I see this evidence?


This occurred in 1917, not 1914.

In 1899, about 7,500 (1/3) of all Doukhobors had arrived in western Canada. Most but not all were followers of Peter V. Verigin as successor leader to Lukeria Kalmykova in Russia. The majority of those who remained in Russia were not followers of Verigin who was arrested and exiled.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) in London, Canada and USA together with Tolstoyans coordinated their migration, donated food, supplies and volunteers for education and medical care. Thanks to their help, many Doukhobors went to school and quickly adapted to their new home and independent freedom.

In December 1902, more than three years later, P.V. Verigin arrived in Canada to nearly 8,000 Doukhobors already divided. The majority were harassed by a small protesting group, and a minority were not his loyal subjects.

Rather than dealing with the situation in Saskatchewan and accepting homestead land, Verigin evicted his opposition and isolated his followers. In 1906 he returned to Russia (just months before the Canadian Government on June 1, 1907 began to cancel Community lands) claiming all would move back, probably a bluff to pacify zealots. In 1908 he got bank loans to buy land in the interior of British Columbia where he resettled two-thirds of his followers by 1913. He forbid contact with Independents under penalty of expulsion from his Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB).

In 1916 the ‘Society of Independent Doukhobors’ was formed largely to have a voice in preserving their central core values involving military exemption status.
….The organization was made necessary when the Government demanded that the Doukhobors sign National Service cards, as an acknowledgement of their exemption status. Naturally, this demand brought some uneasiness. In January 1917, Peter G. Makaroff, a young Doukhobor lawyer, led an Independent delegation of five men to Ottawa. They stated that they were quite willing to sign the cards provided their religious beliefs were respected. As an offset to military service, they offered to pay a double measure of taxation if necessary. Moreover, the delegates pointed out that the Doukhobors in Western Canada had been giving active support to the greater production campaign and had placed as much of their land as possible under crop. Before leaving Ottawa, the Honourable Arthur Meighen explained to the delegation the National Service Act and assured them that ‘no interference with the privileges enjoyed by the Doukhobors was intended.’ Upon returning home, the delegates presented a full report at a large one-day conference of Doukhobors in Verigin, Saskatchewan…. (‘No Interference with Doukhobors,’ The Citizen (Ottawa), January 15 1917, cited in Tarasoff, Koozma J. ‘In Search of Brotherhood: The History of the Doukhobors,’ 3 volumes, unpublished, 1963, pages 496-497.)
During the Conscription Crisis of 1917, Verigin petitioned the Government of Canada to not exempt Independent Doukhobors from military service. In October 1917, he wrote to the Minister of Justice:
At the present time, I, Peter Verigin, the representative of Doukhobor community, do not recognize the second party as Doukhobors and consider that these people must be liable to be conscripted for military service on the same basis as other citizens of Canada, because the members of this party have free homesteads of the Dominion land and became British subjects for this particular land, and have firearms in their homes, and, therefore, they have to defend the crown of the British empire the same as all other citizens of Canada. (Petition by Peter V. Verigin to Chas.J. Doherty, Minister of Justice. PAC Photostat, OIP-DLB, R.C. 15, B.1, vol. 494,483 (14); ‘Doukhobors Are Divided in Opinions’, Regina Post, October 12, 1917.)
Ironically, while striving to build a ‘universal brotherhood’ he attempted to persecute his banished brethren with the aid of secular agencies. His petition was denied. To the wisdom of the government, it confirmed the law that all Doukhobors of conscience remain exempt from military service in Canada, free to perform alternative service or, if absolutist, given jail time.

Bushies and Barons: Kuranda Kisses, Blues magazine, September 2010, is an article about Kim and Lesle Kanigan in Kuranda, Queensland, Australia.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments


  1. Dear Koozma, sincere thanks to you for taking the time and effort to reply, much appreciated.
    I have been actively researching our Doukhobor heritage, often looking for history and things that might inspire me on how to live a better way. I honestly was quite shocked to read about this when I bumped into it, still am really. I guess in this case it really reminded me how important for me to stick with the wisdom found in the gospels and the words of Jesus when he said to Love your neighbors and even your enemies...
    Thank you again for your kind efforts Koozma and Best Regards, Kim

  2. Являлся ли Пётр Веригин, ПРИЕМНИКОМ наследия духоборцев от Лукерьи Калмыковой, это очень спорный вопрос. Во всяком случае никаких доказательств этой самой преемственности нет. Скоропостижная смерть "духоборческой богородицы" не позволила оформить передачу прав "на престол". Вся преемственность носила исключительно личностный характер, который заключался в особенных отношениях между Петром и Лукерьей. Смерть её оставалась тайной для многих поколений духоборцев. В настоящее время это тайна приоткрыла завесу загадочности. Религиозные убеждения Веригина были переформатированы последователями толстовцев. Собственно говоря и дальнейшие события после которых стали возможны гонения на духоборцев со стороны властей были связаны исключительно с идеями толстовства. И является ли это ПРИЕМСТВЕННОСТЬЮ?

    1. Koozma J. Tarasoff3 February 2016 at 12:25

      Translation from Russian to English of Valery Kalmykov's text. By Koozma J. Tarasoff.
      The question of whether Peter Verigin received his leadership succession from Lukeria Kalmykova is a controversial issue. There is no evidence of this. The sudden death of a 'Doukhobor virgin' is no guarantee of prescribed leadership. What took place was of a personal nature, resulting in specific relations between Peter and Lukeria. Lukeria's death remained a mystery for many generations of Doukhobors. Now this secret is being opened with speculations. Religious beliefs of Verigin were reformatted by the followers of Tolstoy. Strictly speaking, what followed with the persecution of Doukhobors by the authorities was linked exclusively to the ideas of Tolstoy. Does this constitute SUCCESSION?

  3. Doukhobors and Military Service
    In 1802 Alexander 1 invited the Doukhobors for bloc settlement in Tavrida province. Those in prison were released providing they joined the exile. It was a natural development that many normal criminals proclaimed themselves Doukhobors preferring exile to prison life and joined them.
    By the time of migration to Canada in 1899, some economic refugees once again joined the Verigin Doukhobors to explore possibilities in the distant land.
    When Peter Verigin arrived in Canada in 1902 after sixteen years of Siberian exile, he discovered many independent aspirants among the Doukhobor communes, primarily settled in the Blaine Lake area. Hoping that they would eventually realize the advantages of communal effort he redistributed them among the other villages.
    After the cancellation of the Hamlet Clause the option of registering for individual homesteads was urged by government officials. Most of the Doukhobors rejected the idea. Accepting this offer would mean swearing the oath of allegiance to King Edward VII, cousin of Czar Nicholas II. They had refused the oath of allegiance in 1839 and suffered severe persecution after refusing it to Czar Nicholas II 1894, climaxing this by having a mass pacifistic demonstration by burning their weapons in 1895, an event still celebrated today known as Peter’s Day. They were not willing to recant now.
    A minority, however, were eager to do so, and most of these were the Doukhobors of convenience, what we call economic migrants, and not religious refugees, anxious to take possession of prime agricultural land improved through communal effort, and obtain singular material wealth rather than spiritual development through communal growth.
    When conscription loomed in 1917, Peter Verigin was dismayed and felt betrayed when these deserters of the commune would seek to take advantage of the military exemption granted to the communal Doukhobors, a free ride for the backsliders on the backs of the toilers. If they were not granted exemption, he reasoned, they would once again seek refuge within the commune and rejoin their brethren.
    The government, anxious to break up the commune, granted them the exemption to bolster the disintegration of Doukhobor unity.
    The conscientious objector act stipulated that the military objectors must belong to a recognized society, and consequently, the dissidents formed many Doukhobor societies in Saskatchewan to meet these requirements, proclaiming themselves Independent Doukhobors. [In spite of this many members were subjected to different forms of alternative service.]
    Some sincere objectors gave up or sold their acquisitions and moved to British Columbia, reunited with their families, and rejoined the communal Doukhobors, then known as the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood.
    All of the contention hinged on the oath requirement. A more complete analysis of its significance can be seen at:
    The cancellation of the Doukhobor land holdings and the oath is also examined at:

    1. Three issues need to be noted:
      1. Exemption from military service was granted to ALL Doukhobors who came to Canada in 1899, not just for the Community Doukhobors.
      2. Peter V. Verigin was playing a political power role in moving his followers to British Columbia. He was more interested in group solidarity, than in preserving a group that objected to charismatic leadership.
      3. The issue of the oath is largely misunderstood by contemporary historians. I have explained this in my article 'Breach of Faith' Land Loss in Saskatchewan in 1907, August 7, 2012:

      'What is little known is that the Russian Doukhobor pioneers could have signed for their land because oaths were not required. However, it seems that Peter V. Verigin was not favourable to this. He wanted an opportunity to fully control his followers by taking them into the wilderness, exploiting their toil to the fullest, and claiming victory against the wayward Independents who went their own way.

      If everyone signed for their land in Saskatchewan, then Verigin would have to openly and democratically discuss many issues with his brothers and sisters (followers) — and this was probably too much for him. Today practically no one raises this historic possibility for staying on the original land. Instead, the myth persists that the minority of faithless stayed in Saskatchewan while the majority of faithful refused oaths and went to BC.

      The common mythical reason often cited for the loss of land was that the Doukhobors would not take the Oath of Allegiance to the King (as they had earlier refused to do in Russia with the Tsar), hence swearing to defend violence (war). However, in 1978, a Doukhobor law student at UBC, Brian Juriloff, discovered that the Dominion Lands Act ‘did not require oaths upon application for homestead entries or patents until the Amendments in 1908’ [my emphasis] (p.16). In other words, a cooperative structure was possible in Saskatchewan at this time; and there was no legal reason to move to British Columbia except for Peter V. Verigin's strategic desire for power. That is a significant finding.

      4. Independent Doukhobors continued to preserve the nonkilling mission of the Doukhobors by annually commemorating the 1895 event and by leading the way to peace manifestations. Since the burning of guns event, this peace making mission is a central historical part of the Doukhobor movement. This date marks their evolution from narrow sectarianism to a social movement.

  4. Дорогой Ларри, прочитал ваш комментарий, который в очередной раз показал, как далеки духоборцы, проживающие в Канаде от истины. Для вас духоборческая история начинается с 1895года. Как правило, с сожжения оружия на Кавказе и переселения из России части духоборцев в Канаду. Все то, что было ранее, то есть до 1895 года для вас как будто не существует. Это часть истории вас не касается! Вы про неё не знаете, и знать не хотите. В вашем комментарии всего несколько строк, в который уложился огромный период с 1802 года по 1899. Именно этот период с 1800 по 1899 год и является основным и самым значимым пластом истории духоборчества, когда были оформлены все постулаты и догмы вероисповедания духоборцев, его основные вероучения и понятия. Изучение этого периода может приблизить искателя к познанию истины духоборческого наследия. За сто лет был сформирован базис или фундамент вероисповедания и построен хрустальный мир, который оберегал и хранил духоборцев и их наследие. В 1895 году это мир разбили на тысячи мелких осколков и история стала переписываться. Современные историки её переписывали по своему усмотрению и поэтому и у вас в тексте, сплошь нелепицы и казусы. Такие словосочетания как: normal criminals….pacifistic demonstration.. могут вызывать недоумение у читателей. Вы пытаетесь рассказать историю духоборчества рассматривая осколки этого мира и выдавать желаемое за действительное.
    Мне кажется, что вся проблема в том, что современные духоборцы Канады не чувствуют в себе русской души, русских корней, не ощущают себя наследниками этой великой нации и духоборческого наследия. Поэтому для них духоборцы, являются миротворцами, пацифистами, и некой группой людей, которые объединены не верой, а идеей.
    Изучайте историю Ларри и веруйте, и это приблизит вас к истине……..

    1. Translation of Anonymous from Russian:

      Dear Larry. I read your comments where you once again show how far Canadian Doukhobors have departed from their movement. For you Doukhobor history begins in 1895 with the burning of weapons in the Caucasus and the resettlement of part of the Doukhobors from Russia to Canada. All that too place previous to 1895, as though the period before did not exist. This is part of the history that you do not know and do not want to know. Your our comments neglect the enormous period from 1802 to 1899. This is the period that constitutes the main and most important aspects of Doukhobor history, during which time their tenets and teachings were formulated. The study of this period could bring the seeker knowledge about the truth of the Doukhobor heritage. One hundred years formed the basis or foundation of the Doukhobor religion and closely preserved its heritage. In 1895, this peace was shattered into thousands of pieces and the history began to be rewritten. Contemporary historians wrote it according to their understanding leading to a text full of nonsense and appearances. Such phrases as normal criminals and pacifist demonstrations, may cause confusion to the readers. You are trying to tell the story of Doukhobors by looking at the splinter groups and engaging in wishful thinking.

      It seems to me that the problem is that contemporary Doukhobors in Canada do not feel themselves as being part of the Russian spirit, with Russian roots; they do not feel being inheritors of this great nation and Doukhobor heritage. Therefore for them, Doukhobors see themselves united as peacemakers and as pacifists, and not as a faith community. Explore the history, Larry, and have trust that this search will bring you closer to the truth.

  5. For more information on Doukhobor history,see:

  6. Kim Kanigan, Australia12 February 2016 at 06:19

    Hi Koozma, thanks for your email and posting further information. Yes, for sure you are correct about the myth of signing the oaths. They never were obligated to take any oath before 1908. I found solid evidences of that on my own research.
    ‎It doesn't seem honest to blame the government of the time because the government didn't compel them to swear the oath.
    Being Christian heritage and looking at Jesus sermon on the mount, I am not surprised they wouldn't want to swear an oath, but Christians were by their faith allowed to bear true witness. (as in the opposite of don't bear false witness) so we know that Chrsitians will be called at times to bear true witness, and that is not a compromise of faith or beliefs in any way.
    The government made kind provisions for this to the Mennonites before the Doukhobors ever arrived in Canada and there was precedent for this already in place as people of Anabaptist faiths will also not swear an oath.
    Mr. Sifton also made written provision for Doukhobors farming together and communal life, so it again doesn't seem honest to blame the government of that day and claiming they were forced to give up their lands.
    Over the years growing up it just never made sense or logic to me that the government would be so kind and gracious to provide the land and option to bear true witness, and option to live communally and then just pull the rug out. Researching this honestly does not allow me to blame the government although I suppose it's easy to assume it was something the politicians did if you never really looked into the facts.

  7. Dear Kim
    Did you ever hear of Frank Oliver?
    See: http //
    For more on the oath, see:

    1. Hi Larry, hope you are well there, thanks for the links. Sure I know who he was, he was the man who took over as minister of the interior from Clifford Sifton. Mr. Oliver was appointed to his position some nineteen hundred and thirty seven days after the largest wave of Doukhobors arrived late 1899.
      Best Regards, Kim