Regarding Doukhobor History
Doukhobor history, from its misty origins in Russia to the modern day reincarnation in Canada, has been one of the most colourful and eventful of nearly any other ethnic group. Considering the size of its population base, it has probably had more written about it than any other coalesced group.
This has led to interesting theories and speculations along the various stages of historical developments, from the hazy origin, [whenever it was], to the present day.
Along this way, hoary misconceptions and half truths permeated the Doukhobor story, often repeated and passed on by members of the public but also including otherwise intelligent members of the group, simply because ancestral elders had repeated them, and in this non-literate, oral history society, myths became embedded as truths. [To this day, in a recent TV interview, a Doukhobor elder in Saskatchewan solemnly proclaimed to the public viewers that Queen Victoria ‘invited and permitted' the Doukhobors to re-settle in Canada, further proclaiming that she declared an amnesty of military conscription for one hundred years! Where did that come from?]
The Book of Life, not collected and recorded until 1899, added to this mythology, as it also contained remnants of supposedly discarded liturgies from the Old Testament and, since these remnants were there, were memorized and passed on, leftovers from the Orthodox church.
In this chapter, I examine some of the most glaring examples of these misconceptions which have become part of the belief system of many Doukhobors, as well as non-Doukhobors, through inadvertent preservation and unwitting propagation within the Doukhobor body politic.
Misconception # 1: Queen Victoria 'allowed' or 'invited' the Doukhobors to seek refuge in Canada. A myth of mystifying unclear origins with no basis in reality. See this site for a thorough explanation which I researched beginning with the Royal Archives in England:
Misconception # 2: Doukhobors would be allowed to settle communally under special provision of the Hamlet Clause: This was one of three fundamental conditions stipulated in discussion of the migration. [The other two were exemption from military service and control of internal affairs]. In the end, Canadian government agreement to this condition was a convenient ruse at a time of needed settlement and apparently was never intended to be carried out.
A discussion regarding these conditions appears here: IN SEARCH OF UTOPIA: www.larrysdesk.com/videos.html
A full step by step development of the disintegration of this promise is provided here: www.larrysdesk.com/sklandseizure.html
Misconception # 3: Doukhobors were given exemption from military service as part of their immigration condition. This was true in theory and they were added to the military exemption act of 1873, but when war broke out, they were subjected to the same penalties as any other member of the public who was a conscientious objector. They did not receive any special consideration, were forced to register, and were compelled to spend time in prison, in alternative service or paying to the Red Cross. Moreover, when veterans returned, moves were made to seize Doukhobor lands to give to the veterans. This betrayal is examined in these two sites: www.larrysdesk.com/oath--bc-move-verigins-watch-gmo-speech-tolstoy-quote.html
Misconception # 4: After the publication of an image showing Doukhobor women pulling the plow breaking sod, the impression created for the Canadian public was that the Doukhobors treated women as chattels and worse. Nothing could be further from the truth; the plowing was a woman led initiative and saved the commune by enabling garden growth while men were at day labour to be able to buy seed for cultivation and stock for enabling agriculture. Women in the community were equal in every respect. This is examined in this posting: www.larrysdesk.com/the-role-of-doukhobor-women.html
Misconception # 5: Peter V. Verigin signed all of the land under his own ownership to insure control of the collective. Totally false: In Saskatchewan he signed for homesteads specifically on behalf of other listed settlers in arrangement with Frank Oliver. In BC, when the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was incorporated in 1917 with $1,000,000 capital, he signed as Chairman of a Board of Twelve Trustees representing the rest of the community. Every village had a representative to a general board, the board then selected trustees to represent their districts. Some facts about the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, and its demise by the financial corporations throughout the depression is provided here:
Misconception # 6: Many theories and misconceptions regarding Peter Verigin’s death because of secrecy surrounding the official investigation. He died in a train explosion in 1924. The cause of the explosion has not been determined and no conclusion regarding his death has been reached. This has led to a variety of theories regarding his death. When inquiries are made, authorities respond with 'no comment', because the case is still open, although, I do not believe that anyone is continuing an investigation. All theories of his death are examined here: www.larrysdesk.com/who-killed-peter.html
Misconception # 7: Doukhobors parade nude and start fires and explosions. Very few Doukhobors accepted violence as an avenue of non-conformity within society. While this fringe element acted out with bizarre non-Doukhobor violence, the vast majority of Doukhobors led a peaceful, cooperative accommodation with prevailing Canadian society under their motto of Toil and Peaceful Life.
The Sons of Freedom break away group is examined on this site: www.larrysdesk.com/sons-of-freedom--hope-history-conference-bridging-the-past.html
Misconception # 8: As suggested in a Saskatchewan documentary film about the Doukhobor arrival in Canada: According to this film, Doukhobors brought stones from Russia because they heard there were no stones in Canada but needed them for building, making crocks of pickles etc. This is a ridiculous suggestion and would not have been allowed. Ships had specific ballast and all baggage was inspected, stones would not have been allowed. Each family had one trunk allowed for baggage and much needed space would not have been allowed for stones. This suggestion is so ridiculous, nothing further need be examined.