Welcome to the Doukhobor Heritage Website – the primary internet source connecting researchers of Doukhobor genealogy. This site is dedicated to the reclamation, discovery, collection, preservation and free sharing of information related to Doukhobor family history. I hope you find this a useful resource. – Jonathan
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Naming practices, name origins, how and why the names of Doukhobor immigrants to Canada changed, and how to recognize Doukhobor names that appear in records.
The Doukhobor Heritage Website is committed to providing free, accessible information on Doukhobor family history.
The origin of the Doukhobors dates back to the 1600s and 1700s in Russia, when a number of Christian religious sects began to form. The name “Doukhobor” means “spirit wrestlers.” People outside the sect felt that the Doukhobors “wrestled against the Holy Spirit in the Church”, while the Doukhobor elders maintained that they “they wrestled with and for the Spirit of God.” Their motto was “Toil and a Peaceful Life”, and it was reflected in their simple ways, communal living, and hard work.
Frequently persecuted for their religious, social, and political beliefs, the situation came to a head under Tsar Nicholas II, who demanded an oath of allegiance from all his subjects. The Doukhobors, lead by Peter Vasilievich Verigin, refused. In an act of defiance in 1895, they refused to serve in the military and burned all of their weapons. This lead to even more repression. Starting in 1898 and 1899 they began to leave Russia. Many sought refuge in Canada and initially settled in Saskatchewan.
At first, life was very difficult, requiring long days of back breaking toil, but the community soon prospered. The Doukhobors were not interested in owning their own individual plots of land. Instead the community would own the land collectively. Unfortunately for Doukhobors, the Canadian Government introduced changes to the homesteading regulations requiring individuals to claim title and to pledge an oath of allegiance to the Crown. This forced the Doukhobors to move yet again during the years of 1908 to 1912. This time they moved to the West Kootenays in British Columbia, with all of the land they occupied held under Peter Verigin’s name.
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