Russian Roots and Canadian Wings

Russian Roots and Canadian Wings

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Russian Roots and Canadian Wings

Russian Archival Documents on the Doukhobor Emigration

Translated, compiled, and annotated by John Woodsworth
Foreword by Vladimir Tolstoy

6 X 9 inches, 236 pages

General editors of Canada-Russia Series are J.L Black & Andrew Donskov

Canada-Russia Series, No. 1

IT ALL STARTED THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO with a desire to worship God in freedom of conscience without the trappings of centuries-old organised religion, to live a simple peasant life of honest toil without undue control by an authoritarian state, and above all to live one's life without being forced to take or even harm another's. Just serving in the army and being made to carry a lethal weapon was, to the Doukhobors, a direct violation of the Christian teaching of non-violence.

To the Russian authorities, on the other hand, Doukhoborism was a direct violation of the practices they had relied upon for centuries, especially when its sectarians began to be influenced by the free-thinking philosophy of Leo Tolstoy. The Doukhobors' burning of their weapons in the Caucasas in 1895 provked one of the most intense campaigns of police observation, information collection and counter-measures in Russian history, all directed at the Doukhobors and their sympathisers and collaborators, the Tolstoyans. The latter took measures of their own and arranged, with the wholehearted support of Leo Tolstoy himself, for 7,500 Doukhobors to be resettled from the Caucasus to the middle of the Canadian praires in the winter and spring of 1899.

Fortunately for history buffs, the Russian police of a century ago gathered and preserved their information on the Doukhobors and their emigration venture very well. It is only in the past decade, however, that many of the documents in this collection have been known to anyone but the police themselves. Translated and published here for the first time in the centenary year of the Doukhobors' arrival, they shed new light on a most significant event in the history of Canada as a multicultural society.


John Woodsworth

Translator, Researcher

Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations


The Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations at Carleton University holds some 20,000 photocopies of documents on Canada from Russia's archives. They range in time from the late 18th century to the 1970s, and cover such diverse topics as diplomatic and trade relations, cultural connections, the Canadian Communist Party and Comintern, wartime relationships, hockey and other sport associations, and the papers of a wide cross-section of Canadian-Soviet friendship societies. These papers were found, photocopied and brought to Canada as part of a project funded mainly by the Donner Canadian Foundation.

Besides Russian Roots and Canadian Wings (Vol. 1) and The Peasant Kingdom (Vol. 2), other volumes planned for the series include despatches to Moscow from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa during World War II, and official reports on the seizure of Canadian fishing boats in the Bering Sea in the 1890s.

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