by Larry A. Ewashen
In 1938, the once-flourishing Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was foreclosed upon, its over $4,000,000 in assets sold at fire sale prices to satisfy a $300,00 debt. The remaining balance, held in trust by the Government of Saskatchewan for the Doukhobors of Canada, came to be known as the CCUB Trust Fund. Administered by a statutory board appointed regionally by recognized Doukhobor Societies, the CCUB Trust Fund is today used to fund Doukhobor cultural and heritage activities and projects. The following article by Larry A. Ewashen, Curator of the Doukhobor Museum in Castlegar, British Columbia and currently a member of the CCUB Trust Fund Board, oulines the history of the fund, its management and applications. Reproduced with permission.
Although many contemporary Doukhobor societies have received funding from the CCUB Trust Fund, not everyone is aware of the origins of this funding organization. Since being appointed to the board by the British Columbia Attorney General, this question has come up from time to time on different occasions. I hope that the following will help to clarify some of the questions.
Simply put, the CCUB Trust Fund, is the remnant of the once flourishing Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood. Incorporated in 1917, and brought to its knees in 1938 through foreclosure action, some of the resources of this one time exceptional communal enterprise remained as a legacy to the remaining Doukhobor societies up until the present day.
After the devastating foreclosure action by Sun Life Assurance, the Canadian Imperial Bank and Crown Life over the outstanding $300,000 interest, the British Columbia Provincial Government negotiated a settlement with the Trust companies by paying $280,000 on the debt, and thus becoming owners of the entire CCUB holdings.
Peter Lordly Verigin (centre) with crowd of Community (CCUB) Doukhobors, c. 1920’s. Photo courtesy Simon Fraser University Doukhobor Collection.
Previous to the BC Government take over, the receivers announced to the CCUB governing Doukhobors that they intended to liquidate certain resources to recoup their financial outlay.
This liquidation continued until most of the Doukhobor resources such as lumber and any other items in stock were sold off at fire sale prices, and the basic industries such as the jam factory were totally depleted so there was no chance of the Doukhobors reviving their CCUB company in a meaningful fashion. After the Receivers had completed their work, the Government of BC took over and a second condition emerged, allowing the Doukhobors to remain in the villages as tenants in the properties they had once owned.
After the government recouped their $280,000. there was a balance left which was deposited into a holding account in Regina Saskatchewan, and was supervised by the Government of Saskatchewan under the terms of the bankruptcy procedures.
When the communal homesteads were cancelled in 1906 – 7 in Saskatchewan over the issue of naturalization and communal living, the government of the day graciously reserved 15 acres for each resident over eighteen years of age on the periphery of each village. Of course, this was not sufficient for a family to survive on, and those Doukhobors who had left for British Columbia, had given up their ownership rights. These reserves dwindled as they were purchased by the new occupiers of the property after the Doukhobors vacated, in some cases by the Independent Doukhobor who stayed, and in other cases by other new owners who wanted to complete their holdings, particularly when the reserves bordered their land. In 1918, former Dominion lands were sold or reverted to the province. The proceeds of the these sales were also added to an account supervised by the Saskatchewan government.
Up until the time of the bankruptcy procedures against the CCUB. this fund was referred to as The Credit Surplus Fund and was held in trust by Toronto General Trust, later one the receivers in the case. The majority of the CCUB holdings were in British Columbia. There was a smaller operation in Alberta and some land, flour mill and farming operation around Verigin and Kylemore. These properties were all part of the foreclosure of the CCUB
After the costly bankruptcy procedures which lasted from 1938 to 1945, the sum of $142,111.07 remained, and this was held in trust by the Toronto General Trust. in Regina, one of the foreclosing agents. This money, then, was combined with the money from the proceeds of the 15 acres lots.
In time, this account grew to the sum of $222,000. plus an accrued interest. This sum was held in trust by the Canada Permanent Trust Company on behalf of the bankruptcy court and in 1979-80, was deposited with the Minister of Finance of Saskatchewan, concurrent with the creation of The Doukhobors of Canada C.C.U.B. Trust Fund Act by the Saskatchewan government. This money then, belonged to the legal heirs of the CCUB or its creditors. The question arose as to who were the legal heirs? Since it was surplus, presumably, the creditors were paid off. However, there were cases of people who had lent money to the corporation who were not paid, but had not made a claim at the time of the dissolution. They had forfeited and claims of reimbursement.
Various suggestions came forth as to how this money should be disposed of – it was accumulating interest at 3 1/2 %, and if no action was taken, it could be transferred into the provincial treasury. The legal heirs appeared to be all Doukhobors who had at one time belonged to the CCUB or had had their homesteads cancelled in Saskatchewan. At the last hearing of the Commission on the problem of the disposition of former CCUB lands, which were sold to Doukhobors and private citizens, the attorney suggested the monies should be converted into a general welfare fund for all Doukhobors.
It should be noted that the Government of British Columbia profited exorbitantly from this transaction, since they had taken over 71,600 acres for $280,000. and sold all of these properties 20 years later at appreciated prices. Other former possessions such as schools were absorbed by local school boards, the famous suspension bridge built in 1913 was taken over by the Department of Highways and continued to serve the public, again without compensation to the Doukhobor toilers.
The question then arose as to what form this general welfare fund could take. A Doukhobor Institute was proposed, a Seniors’ Rest Home, a Chair of Doukhobor studies at a university. No further action was taken.
A committee from Verigin approached the provincial government with the suggestion that the funds be allocated towards heritage purposes of the Doukhobors. The result was the committee receiving $107,000. to begin forming the National Doukhobor Heritage Village in 1980, although this sum was not from this fund.
In June of 1980, the Doukhobors of Canada CCUB Trust Fund was enacted by the Government of Saskatchewan following an Order-in-Council. The intent of the fund was to further the culture and heritage of the Doukhobors in Canada. Monies left, the principle sum of $267,500 was invested in perpetuity and the interest earnings were to be shared by applying Doukhobor organizations from the three western provinces.
A formula designated a board of nine persons, consisting of three delegates from Saskatchewan, three from British Columbia, one from Alberta and one person nominated by the Attorney General of British Columbia and one of Saskatchewan. The three members each from British Columbia and Saskatchewan were to be nominated by recognized Doukhobor societies. ‘Each member holds office for a term of three years or until his successor is appointed . . . no member may be appointed for more than two consecutive terms.’
The present distribution formulae is 45% to British Columbia, 45% to Saskatchewan, and 10% to Alberta, although it is worth noting that the majority of the capital came from the CCUB residual fund of British Columbia. This formula is not rigid, and is subject to change, depending on the relative groups and societies in relation to each other.
A recent development has occurred wherein the Attorney General of Alberta no longer wishes to be involved in sanctioning the Alberta appointment, and the Alberta delegate is now simply appointed by the Doukhobor societies.
This may happen in British Columbia as well although a recent conversation with Greg Cran from the Attorney General’s Department, an original member of the negotiations, did not indicate that he was aware of any proposed changes. If this should happen, presumably the delegates will be selected as they have been in the past through a meeting and nomination system, perhaps facilitated by the Council of Doukhobors in Canada or a special meeting involving the ‘recognized Doukhobor Societies’.
It is possible that this may have to be in effect for next year’s selection of delegates stepping down.
The key section is 16 which reads: ‘The board shall provide for the making of grants to recognized non-profit organizations which are dedicated to establishing and maintaining the heritage and culture of the Doukhobors of Canada.’ On this basis, any legitimate Doukhobor Society, seeking to encourage and maintain Doukhobor culture and heritage, is welcome to present a submission for funding.
For further information on the CCUB Trust Fund and for free online copies of The Doukhobors of Canada C.C.U.B. Trust Fund Act, visit the Saskatchewan Queen’s Printer Website.