Report of the General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community held at Verigin, Sask, January 25, 1910

Manitoba Free Press

During the first decades of the twentieth century, the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was governed by general meetings that were held early each year to receive the annual report and financial statement prepared by the representative committee and to vote on various matters of policy and practice brought before them. These gatherings were typically attended by two delegates – one woman and one man – from each village, the administrators in charge of community affairs and the leader Peter “Lordly” Verigin. The following is a rare extant report of the general meeting of the Doukhobor Community held at Verigin, Saskatchewan, on January 25, 1910, as published in the Manitoba Morning Free Press, March 1, 1910. The minutes provide remarkable insight into the administrative matters of the day, including the universal meaning of Christ’s teaching, the immigration to British Columbia, the election of community managers, grain for people, livestock, seed and milling, capital debts and expenditures, and more. In addition, the general account leaves no doubt of the extent of the material achievements of the Community under Verigin’s leadership at this time.

There were present one-man delegate and one-woman from each village, also some honorary members. The number of people attending was about fifty men and fifty women.

The meeting was opened by each person reading a Psalm, and all joining in the singing of the hymn, “Glory to God”, and by common expressions of hearty gratitude to God for the success of present life.

After this there was long and serious conversation in regard to the universal meaning of Christ’s teaching. It was clearly explained from the conversations that Christ in His teachings gave us to understand that God is a universal God. So there were some examples taken from the life of people before Christ’s time. People at that time understood Divinity as a destructive force, taking for instance the worshipping of thunder, winds, fire and other elements. People of such belief often themselves committed actions of destructions. Wars and ether illegal actions were allowed.

Christ clearly explained to us that the most superior force, by which the universe is ruled, is the force of good and people wishing to worship this good force must first themselves be good. By doing so one would become nearer and adapt himself to the good force of the universe what is called “God”. The winds and thunder are temporary occurrences, but the world is guarded by this force of Good.

After that, various questions of economy were presented to the meeting for consideration.

  1. It was stated to the meeting that this year was closed by the payment of all debts in full, the funds for which came from outside works and the sale of grain.
  2. The delegates from each village presented a report of the quantity of wheat, oats, barley, flax, peas, etc remaining.
  3. It was decided by all present that from this date until the arrival of new crops, six bushels of wheat be retained for the personal use of each person, and that in the spring one bushel of wheat and one bushel of barley be sown for each individual: the remainder of the land to be sown in oats. Flax and peas can be sown in accordance with the desire of each village. The majority of the members of the meeting expressed their wish that each village should keep on sowing flax and peas, and, to keep feed for the stock, one hundred bushels of oats for each team of horses and fifty bushels of barley for each yoke of oxen.
  4. It was decided that by the 15th of February each village must have the grain for people, seed grain, grain for horses and oxen separated. The seed grain must be carefully cleaned and stored in good granaries, and all balance of grain in each village, after 15th February will be hauled to railroad points for sale. As per the reports the community has at present, the grain for sale will amount to seventy five thousand dollars. Shipments of grain will be made as heretofore, through the community offices. All moneys received from the sale of grain will be deposited with the Home Bank of Canada at Winnipeg and withdrawn when required.
  5. All merchandise will be purchased, as before, through the community office at Verigin and those villages, which have credit accounts, will receive goods to the value of same. All villages having a credit account, are willing that goods be bought for villages which have none. And in view of this it was decided at this meeting that no person should purchase goods individually.
  6. An inventory of all property belonging to the community beyond the village outfits was made and is attached to general accounts.
  7. The community has in all villages about four hundred teams of working horses, valued at $350.00 per team, which amounts to one hundred and forty thousand dollars, five hundred yokes of oxen, valued at $100.00 per yoke, amounts to fifty thousand dollars, five hundred milk cows, valued at $35.00 each, amounts to seventeen thousand and five thousand dollars. Besides that there are full outfits for horses and oxen as: harness, farm implements, wagons, sleighs, etc. All affairs of the community consisting of 42 villages are in good shape.
  8. The community accounts for 1909 were presented by V. A. Potapoff, S. Reibin and M. W. Cazakoff. Accounts were found correct in every respect and approved by all present. The copy is attached here within.
  9. Vasil Potapoff and Simeon Reibin requested the meeting to allow them to resign their positions. Their resignations were very reluctantly accepted, and the meeting tendered them a hearty vote of thanks in acknowledgement of their services in the interest of the community in the past.
  10. It was decided to proceed with the election of managers of the community affairs. The following were elected for 1914 for purchasing goods and implements and distributing same to villages: Nicholas Fofonoff, of village Vernoe, Vasil Hleboff of village Lubovnoe, John Podovinikoff, who was in office at Verigin before, Alex Reibin, of village Vosnisennie, Pard Potakoff, of village Bogomdannoe, M. W. Cazakoff was re-elected as a manager of office and ministerial affairs.
  11. As the community had good heavy crops and fall success in life during the year 1909, it was decided by all those present to send no men on outside work this coming summer, but instead to increase cultivation acreage at home.
  12. It was decided by this meeting to deliver to Verigin flour mill all wheat in excess of amount reserved for the purpose of grinding and selling the flour. Prices on wheat were set as follows: For highest-grade 85¢ per bushel, and for second grade 80¢ per bushel. The villages situated at the north colony will receive for long hauling 10¢ per bushel extra, and villages Tambovkia, Trudohubivoe, Vossianie, and Petrovo and Voskresinie 5¢ per bushel extra.
  13. The question was raised before the meeting regard to the immigration to British Columbia. It was definitely shown that in Saskatchewan where the Doukhobors live at present, in consequences of wide prairies lying a considerable distance from the sea, the climate in winter is very dry and cold, the temperature is often over 30 degrees Reaumur, and therefore some sickness prevails, such as bad coughs and rheumatism. Immigration to British Columbia was decided as most necessary.

A particular report of the British Columbia climate was submitted by Peter V. Verigin and by Nicholas Ziboroff, delegates from British Columbia. The first party of community Doukhobors immigrated to British Columbia for the purpose of starting works, and has been living there for two years. They have found the climate exceedingly mild in winter: temperatures not being over 15 degrees Reaumur. This occurs about ten times during all the winter, but generally, the temperature is 3, 5 and 7 degrees below zero Reaumur, and sometimes 2, 3 and 7 degrees above zero Reaumur.

In consequence of the mountains, the water for drinking is very pure, and the air also very clear and healthy. The reporter, Peter Verigin, is under the impression that the air and waters are similar to those in Switzerland in nature, and even much more healthy. Therefore, with the view to become healthier, immigration to British Columbia has been decided on possibly sooner than intended.

In British Columbia it is possible to grow fruits of nearly all kinds: apples, pears, plums, cherries, etc. Small. fruits and vegetables are grown wonderfully good. The community has already bought about ten thousand acres of fruit lands. There is splendid timber on it for building purposes.

Toward the close of the meeting there were several conversations in regard to the necessity of the moral enlightenment of the Doukhobors as a Christian Community of the Universal Brotherhood. As already stated, God is universally good, and consequently his followers also must be good, which is their superior degree of nobleness and enlightenment. Such followers of spiritual necessity must not be blood-thirsty, and therefore their food must not be slaughterous. A person whose object is to be pure in spirit, must also be anxious about cleanliness of his body, as for instance, all houses as far as possible clean, especially in living rooms the air always must be as like as possible to the outside air, which is given by the Lord for the nourishing of all people and animal. We deem necessary the water in every village must be kept in clean wells. It is also necessary that every well must be laid round inside with stones or brick, and good pumps installed.

The meeting continued four days. It was open every day for eight hours.

With sincere wishes for every success from the Lord in their future life and with greeting to all brothers and sisters in every village, the meeting was brought to a close.

S. Reibin,
Ex-Secretary to Doukhobor Community.
Free Press, Winnipeg, March 1, 1910.

Inventory of Property Under Direct Control of Community Committee (Exclusive of Village Outfits). 
The building at Verigin station and 3 acres of land


The brickyard at Verigin and 10 acres of land


Flour and oatmeal mill at Verigin and 10 acres of land


The property at farm, including one section of land


The property at Canora, including one farm of land


The brickyard at Yorkton (brick is not included)


The land and cement enterprise at Yorkton


The land and buildings at Benito, Man.


The land at Swan River, Man.


Movable property at farm


The land, 7,410 acres, paid in full at $8.50 per acre


Twelve outfits, engines and threshing machines




Above property paid in full.
Besides that there are 13,520 acres of land purchased (British Columbia land included) which amount to $347,215.00.  Deposit paid up.


Grand Total


Statement of Future Debts
Land in Saskatchewan, payments till the year 1917


Machinery etc. in Winnipeg


Land in British Columbia, payments till the year 1914




An Account of Income and Expenditure of the Doukhobor Community in Canada for 1909
Income –
Loan from the Home Bank of Canada. Winnipeg (British Columbia excepted)


To cash received from J. Podovinnikoff of Yorkton


To cash received from village Bogdanovka for horses


To cash received from P. Labintzeff for grinding flour


To cash received for old lumber mill


To cash received from some villages for sale of cattle


To cash received from V. Golooboff, the engineer


To cash received from Jacob Iwashin for land


To cash received from K. Novokshonoff for land


To cash for sold hospital at Yorkton (last payment)


To cash received from V. Pepin




Expenditures –
By payment of old loan and interest to B.B.N.A.


By payment of old debts for brickyard at Yorkton


By payment of an old debt for elevator at Verigin


By payment of M.W. Cazakoff account


By payment of an old debt to Quakers in England


By payment on land for 1909


By payment of taxes on land for 1909


By payment of Kamenka village debts to stores


By payment of accounts with Prince Albert colony


By payment to carpenters at Wurtz’s farm


By payment of an old debt for farm of WUrtz


By payment for 500 bushels of seed oats


To purchase of live bee hives for Otradnoe village


By payment of transportation and travelling expenses, 1908


By payment of transportation and travelling expenses, 1909


To purchase of railway ticket for T. Litoshenko to Russia


By payment of an old debt for brickyard at North Colony


By payment of an old debt for lumber mills


By payment of engineer’s account for certificates


By payment of purchase for mills (stones, etc.)


To purchase of threshing outfits, deposit paid


By payment of Simeonovo village account for lime


By payment to barristers


BY payment of balance for mill at Verigin


By payments to John Nimanikin


To office expense, stationery, telegrams, postage stamps, etc.


By payment of loan to H.B. of C., Winnipeg (B.C. excepted)


To interest on above amount for nearly 8 months


By payment to V. Pepin for his expenses




Total expenditures


Total Income


Adverse balance


Above adverse balance $68,791.93 was paid from other sources, as follows:
1. Villages deposited moneys of grain sale


2. By loan of British Columbia accounts, 1908


3. By moneys from store remains as a profit




An account of Community stores at Verigin and Benito of the inventory and net profit from commercial operation, showing how income is distributed:
To cash paid for Community debts, as shown above


To cash handed over to M.W. Cazakoff


To cash paid for the debts of Canora store


To goods on hand at Benito store


To goods on hand at Verigin store


To cash paid for buildings at Verigin


To value of telephone line 57 miles long


To cash paid for the buildings at Canora


To accounts unpaid by villages




Besides accounts of Doukhobor Community as shown above, there were incomes and expenditures of villages which amount to over $200,000 for 1909. All the villages except a few have paid their debts in full. Many villages have deposited large sums of money to be kept in their credit.


The Community was formally a democracy in which the general meeting was the supreme governance authority. However, in practice, while Peter “Lordly” Verigin’s formal powers were small, his real influence was immense. This was due, not only to his position as hereditary leader, but to his powerful personality, superior education and intellectual prowess. Resolutions at the annual general meetings never went contrary to his advice, and during the twelve months that elapsed between meetings, he and his advisors acted as an executive with sweeping powers to make almost any decision on behalf of the Community.

The general account reveals the dual financial structure within the Community, consisting of the central office and treasury and the villages. All village income, sales and other general transactions were dispatched through the central office. At the same time, assets were held by the Community as a whole as well as by the villages. The general account, however, only identifies property under the direct control of the Community and not that held by the villages, giving an incomplete idea of the overall value of Community property.

In 1909, the income of the Community as a business concern amounted to $18,088.59 and its expenditures amounted to $86,880.52, not counting the incomes and expenditures of villages which amounted to over $200,000.00. This balance reflects the daring deficit financing which Verigin was undertaking, whereby, a planned excess of expenditure over income created a shortfall of Community revenue which was met by borrowing. The decision to create a deficit was made to build up the infrastructure of the Community as a self-contained entity through great investments in machinery and industrial plants.

The general account gives an incomplete idea of the overall productiveness of the Community, which, numbering over eight thousand people, was largely self-supporting. Many tens of thousands of tonnes of wheat were grown and ground into flour, vegetables grown for food, flax and wool produced, spun and woven for clothing, dairy products produced from the communal herd of cattle, and many buildings, equipment and household goods manufactured, all for internal use by the Community. None of this directly involved income or expenditure, assets or liabilities, and therefore, was not included in the general account.

Finally, in reviewing the general account it must be recalled that only ten years prior, the Doukhobors had arrived in Canada with no capital but strong hearts and willing hands, none having even the faintest knowledge of the English language, Canadian law, or modern methods of business and agriculture. The rapid material achievements of the Community over such a brief period, owing in no small part to the leadership of Peter “Lordly” Verigin is nothing short of a sociological and economic wonder.

For more information on the general meetings and accounts of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, see the 1904 Report1906 Report and the 1912 Report of the General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community.