Saturday, 13 February 2021

Remembering William Kanigan. (1931–2021)

William W. (‘Bill’) Kanigan of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan died January 15, 2021. His compassionate heart touched many lives, including mine. Bill was a generous friend who encouraged and financially helped me with my research during the Doukhobor Centennial in 1995.

In 1989 we published an article about him in Spirit-Wrestlers’ Voices. In 2001 he helped Jon Kalmakoff document the Kylemore Doukhobor Colony for Saskatchewan History. In 2017 we published and replied to an essay he composed with his son Kim about two streams of Doukhobors.

Bill is best known as ‘a responsible entrepreneur from the heart’ who for 27 years co-owned and operated the successful Buy Rite Furniture business in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He attributed his success to the importance of promoting and practicing co-operation, being gentle, solving problems with thoughtfulness and kindness.

The photo above shows the former Buy-Rite Furniture building (originally the Cockshutt Plow Co. warehouse) at 132 Idylwyld Drive, Midtown Saskatoon. The far end of the building was being demolished. May 17, 1988. Historical Collections, Saskatoon Public Library.

Photo below shows the Kanigan's furniture and appliance store at 220 20th Street West, Saskatoon. August 26, 1965. Local History Collections, Saskatoon Public Library

In 1962, Rnold H. Smith and partners purchased Kanigan Home Furnishings, which Smith operated until 1967. He eventually partnered with Bill Kanigan to establish Buy-Rite Furniture, and was joined by his brother Cecil Kanigan, who died in 2018. Over the years the store grew to a chain of eight province-wide stores. The Buy-Rite Furniture Factory was 2 kilometers north of the showroom at 901 1st Ave N, Saskatoon for railroad access. Smith retired from Buy-Rite in 1985, and died in 2008.

Bill was brought up in the Community Doukhobor settlement of Kylemore, Saskatchewan by devout parents William George Kanigan and Mary Kanigan (nee Makortoff) who instilled in him the values of compassion, honesty, usefulness, and a belief in nonviolence.

At home, Bill would frequently hear the importance of the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you would do unto you.’ This keystone ethic he applied both at home and at work. He believed that an organization rarely survived for any length of time unless it was ethical and guided by ethical leaders. Although this formula placed a heavy burden on the individual and extracted a heavy price, Bill said that ‘it can be worth the effort’ as reflected in the success of his business.

In his retirement years, Bill, like his parents, was an accomplished singer in traditional Russian. He was a regular member of the Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon and participated in Sunday meetings and the summer outdoor Doukhobor bread baking project at the annual Saskatoon Exhibition. He recently served as an ‘Elder’ in the Society.

Visiting Russian Doukhobor artist Volodia Gubanov (left) shows
his sketch of Bill Kanigan (right), Saskatoon, SK, July 22, 1995.

In early 2001, Bill contributed his family history and 8 vintage photos of his ancestral Kylemore Doukhobor Colony for an article written by Jonathan Kalmakoff, published in the journal Saskatchewan History.

Family was important to Bill, always supportive and encouraging. In the summer of 2001, he and his younger son Ryan went to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places in Russia, visiting the country of their ancestors. This was one of their highlights in being together.

With Bill's support, his oldest son Kim established a tool and die-making business in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Bill described his son as ‘an entrepreneur with a conscience’ because his son refused to produce several thousand military badges — an action very consistent with the Doukhobor nonkilling legacy. Later, Kim migrated from Canada to the coast of Queensland, Australia, where he used his mechanical skills to refurbish vintage candy machines and founded Stillwater Sweets (Facebook).

In 2016, Bill and Kim communicated by Skype, and often pondered 'what is a Doukhobor based on historical and current facts'? Their dialog evolved into an essay 'The Two Streams of Doukhobor Faith: Apostolic and Inclusivist', published in the Saskatoon Doukhobor journal, The Dove, in 2016.

Bill Kanigan is survived by his wife Doris, children Karen, Kim (Leslie) and Ryan (Nancy Paris), grandson Robin and step-grandchildren Camrin, Megan and Mia. He leaves his sister Natalie Austin, sister-in-law Bernice Kanigan, nieces and nephews. A memorial is planned for a later date. Bill will be missed by a lot of people far and wide.

He was a friend indeed. We enjoyed publishing his essays.


  1. Three images of Bill, from (left) sketch by visiting Russian Doukhobor artist Volodia Gubanov, July 22, 1995, (center) Koozma J. Tarasoff, published in Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living (2002), page 221; and (right), obituaries online, below.
  2. 'File S-SP-A-25099 - Bill Kanigan' contains 16 Black & White photos of Bill Kanigan created on 12 Feb 1986, The StarPhoenix Collection, City of Saskatoon Archives.
  3. Rnold H. Smith biography in Pederson, Jen. ‘A Seat on Council: The Aldermen, Councillors and Mayors of Saskatoon - 1903-2006’, Edited and Revised by Jeff O’Brien October 15, 2015, The City of Saskatoon Archives, Office of the City Clerk, page 106.
  4. ‘Responsible Entrepreneurship From the Heart’, in Koozma J. Tarasoff. Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002): pages 219-221. — Much taken from Tarasoff, ‘Responsible Entrepreneurship: an attitude of the mind’, Spirit-Wrestlers’ Voices: Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of their Migration to Canada in 1899, 1989, pages 111-115.
  5. Obituaries online for William W. Kanigan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (December 24, 1931 - January 15, 2021) — Mourning Glory Funeral ServicesThe Star PhoenixTribute Archive.
  6. Bill Kanigan of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and his son Kim Kanigan, Queensland, Australia, posted a paper in The Dove, April 2017, pages 5-15, 'The Two Streams of Doukhobor Faith'. In response, K.J. Tarasoff and A.J. Conovaloff replied with: ‘Q80: Two Streams of Doukhobors?’, Spirit Wrestlers blog, 12 July 2017. — Are there two Streams of Doukhobors? Apostolic and Inclusivist?
  7. Kalmakoff, Jonathan J. 'The Kylemore Doukhobor Colony', 20 November 2010, published in Saskatchewan History (Spring/Summer 2001, Issue, Vol. 63, No. 1) , pages 9-18, references on pages 45-47. — See article in online journal (PDF); and at the Doukhobor Genealogy Website in PDF and HTML.


  1. Thank you Koozma for such a warm and fulsome description of Bill Kanigan’s life outlining his contributions to the Doukhobor community.

  2. Lawrence Klippenstein, Winnipeg, Manitoba22 February 2021 at 13:02

    I am sorry to hear of the passing of Bill, whom I did not meet but whose efforts I can truly acclaim.

  3. Mae Popoff, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan22 February 2021 at 13:03

    Your presentation of Bill Kanigan is personal, factual and heartwarming! Extremely impressive! God bless you and your family.

  4. Bill Bhaneja, Ottawa, Ontario22 February 2021 at 13:04

    Such a wonderful tribute to your dear friend Mr. William Kanigan. As you describe him, a responsible entrepreneur from the heart. He believed that an organization rarely survived for any length of time unless it is ethical and guided by ethical leaders. This is profound and as valuable as the golden rule that only emanates when a person is driven by conscience. I am sure "Bill" is in your forthcoming e-book. May he Rest In Peace.

  5. Blessings to William, Koozma. Glad that you found each other and became allies.

  6. Henry Beissel, Ottawa, Ontario22 February 2021 at 13:07

    Thanks for the info about the death of William Kanigan. Sorry you lost a good friend. It seems we all lost an honest and compassionate man. C'est la vie.

    I read some of the accompanying material, especially about "the two streams" of Doukhobors. The 'inclusive' stream is so all-embracing that I could almost claim to be part of it myself. In fact, I'd find it difficult to put my finger on where exactly I differ from their views. Very interesting. Thanks for this clarification.

  7. Koozma, thanks so much to you and Kristina for your condolence. I really appreciate your memorial posting for Dad. Thank you very much for this. Your kind and respectful words are greatly appreciated.That charcoal drawing reminds me of sharing a vodka with a drop of cranberry at that occasion with you and Volodia, it was a good day.