UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Literary and ideological heritage of Peter Vasilyevich Verigin Karpoff, Theodore Matthew


In 1839 the Doukhobors in Russia were accused of heresy. By the decree of Tsar Nicholas I, they were expelled from Novorossiisk province to the region beyond the Caucasus. Nineteen years later, in 1858, Peter Verigin was born in a "peaceful and pious" Doukhobor family home in the village of Slavianka in Yelizavetpolsk province. (Thesis, p. 33.) Because of persecutions, the Doukhobors left -Russia and migrated to Canada. From 1898 to 1902 they settled in Saskatchewan, and in 1907 in British Columbia. Misunderstanding between the Canadian authorities and the Doukhobors followed. Canada's official representative, Johnson MacDougal, insisted that titles to the homestead land could be granted not to the commune as a whole but only to individuals after they had fulfilled certain government requirements. The Doukhobors, under the leadership of Peter Verigin, wanted to hold and to develop their land communally. (Thesis pp. 153-155.) More serious problems developed when a mere splinter from the main body of Doukhobors chose to defy with violence both the legalistic approach (this is the law!) of the government and the moralistic approach of Peter Verigin. There were also non-Doukhobor elements that took the law into their own hands in dealing with the Doukhobor leader. On October 29, 1924, Peter Verigin was killed by a bomb which exploded under his seat while he was travelling in a railway coach from Brilliant to Grand Forks. (Thesis, pp. 168-170.) Peter Verigin was adequately literate. His deficiencies in higher education he had replenished with reading those books that in the main interested him for their moral, religious, philosophical and pietistic content. (Thesis, p. 116.) In a letter to Verigin, Leo N. Tolstoy acknowledged certain of Verigin's virtues, such as the earning of daily bread by his own personal toil. From Verigin's example, Tolstoy received moral support for himself. (Thesis, p. 99.) In Canada, Commissioner William Blackmore praised Verigin for his devotion to his people — if only he himself and his people could be persuaded to carry out the laws of the land. (Note: there were occasions when the type of persuasions used were not in accord with good laws of the land.) (Thesis, pp. 155-169,169.) Another outstanding Canadian, an independent Doukhobor, was Peter N. Maloff of Thrums, B. C. (author of Doukhobors: Their History, Life and Struggle). He describes Peter Verigin as an idealist and at the same time as a realist. (Thesis, p. 167.) The course of.Verigin’s eventful life and his interest in, and devotion to his people extends over four consecutive periods: first the period of childhood and education, both literary and ideological, related to:the. Doukhobor tradition; second, the period of training and the call to leadership; the third period, extending over sixteen years in exile, from 1886 to 1902, deals with Verigin's leadership in absentia, his literary and ideological creativity in letters to his people and correspondence with eminent persons of that period. (Thesis, pp. 17, 33ff, 40ff, 69-148.) The fourth period of Verigin's life tells the story of his leadership in Canada from 1902 to 1924. The whole history of this period is so complex and variegated that it would take another theme to pursue it. The Doukhobors in Canada would probably be the new theme. Therefore we set a limit to our thesis with reminiscences about Peter Verigin and contemporaneity which will still remind us of his character and his ideology. (Thesis, p. 148 to end.) One word further: throughout the thesis there runs one unchanging purpose of the author: a sincere attempt to put forth a truthful and systematic retrospect of Peter Verigin's life and work in general, and in particular to evaluate his literary and ideological reaction to the problems that have arisen in consequence of the whole historic Doukhobor movement in Russia and later in Canada. The author considers that such a retrospect is necessary for the sake of elucidation of the many pages of the historic Doukhobor pilgrimage and the ideological contribution it has occasioned. Finally, insofar as we in Canada are polyglot in principle but officially are bilingual, we shall end our thesis with a brief resume in the French language. (P. 180.)

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