Wednesday, 27 April 2016

1938 CCUB Decline

The Decline of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd. in 1938

Reprinted from the Sheaf, June 1998, by the Canadian Doukhobor Society, on 'The Centennial Page', page 3.

The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB Ltd.) began to decline rapidly following Peter V. Verigin’s death in October 1924, and the accession of his son, Peter Petrovich to the leadership. The crux of the problem became the unwise borrowing practices which put the entire operation in jeopardy. The executive of the CCUB had borrowed $350,000 from the Bank of Commerce, secured by bonds held by the National Trust Company. Under the younger man and the impact of the Great Depression, the organization was unable to repay then went further into debt. Bankruptcy procedures were enacted in 1937 and foreclosure proceedings were instituted the following year.

William A. Soukoreff (
Photo by K.J. Tarasoff,
all rights reserved.)
Community accountant William A. Soukoreff gave four main reasons for the CCUB collapse:
  1. Heavy mortgage rates coupled with declining revenue
  2. Decline in the paid-up membership (8,000 in 1908 down to 2,113 in 1937)
  3. The growing number of non-payers, and
  4. Enormous losses from the activities of radical members as well as unknown predators who resorted to arson as a form of protest against government persecution.
Harry W. Trevor / Nicholas Snesarev study concluded that inefficiency contributed to the collapse. Independent Doukhobor farms had crop yields that averaged 50 percent higher than those of the Community Doukhobors, orchard cultivation was neglected, and an elaborate irrigation system estimated in 1930 to have cost $438,000 was of ‘unsound design’ and never worked. The failure of management to seek expert advice was a related problem. The study found that managers were frequently illiterate people chosen by the community, whose members tended to scorn education and outside expertise.

Peter P. Verigin’s unconventional behaviour and some unsound investments also contributed to the eventual downfall of the community. The provincial government took measure to forestall eviction of community members by paying the money owed to the creditors, Sun Life Assurance Company and the National Trust Company. It ruled that the CCUB was not eligible for protection under the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act [1934] because a limited company could not technically be considered a farmer. Many Doukhobors felt that the government had colluded with the financial companies and had tricked them by gaining control of their buildings and some 7,700 hectares [19,027 acres, 30 mi.2] (with properties in Saskatchewan and Alberta, worth about $6 million) for less than $300,000, then proceeded to liquidate any profit making ventures.

A Land Settlement Board was set up to administer the land which the community members rented for a nominal amount until 1961 which it then sold back to them for a price below market value. When the Receiver had completed this operation in 1945, $142,000 had been left for the legal heirs of the CCUB. By 1980 the money had grown to $267,000 and a Trust Fund was established for community purposes. This is now known as the CCUB Trust Fund, and an appointed board dispenses interest from this fund to various Doukhobor organizations in the three western provinces.

[Compiled from various published research sources.]

  • Ewashen, Larry. 'Origin of the CCUB Trust Fund', Doukhobor Genealogy Website, 3 February 2005.
  • Hawthorn, Harry B. (editor). The Doukhobors of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: The University of British Columbia and J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Limited, 1955.
  • Snesarev, Vladimir Nicholas [Harry W. Trevor], ‘The Doukhobors in British Columbia’ (unpublished manuscript, Vancouver, 1931) — Doukhobor economic and social structure, agriculture, and history.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for resurrecting this article Koozma. It's a good summary.
    The CCUB Trust Fund first appeared on my website: