The Colony: Anastasia’s Village, Shouldice, Alberta

by William Anatooskin

After the death of Peter “Lordly” Verigin in 1924, his companion Anastasia F. Holuboff (1885-1965) was acknowledged by several hundred Doukhobors as his successor. The majority of Community Doukhobors, however, proclaimed Verigin’s son leader. Disappointed, Anastasia and her followers broke away from the Community and in 1926 moved to the Shouldice district of Alberta where they established a break-away communal settlement. The following article by former resident William Anatooskin recounts life in the Lordly Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, also known as “The Colony”.  Reproduced by permission from his upcoming book on the Anutooshkin Family History, it contains a detailed listing of the families who lived there, along with the relative location of each household.  

The Colony

Anastasia Holoboff moved from Brilliant, British Columbia in 1926 and purchased the following property, located two miles west of Shouldice and five miles east of Arrowwood, just south of the CPR railway. A large water tank stood beside the tracks. This was used to fill the steam engines that traveled the railway, hauling grain from various small towns. Grain elevators were built so that the farmers could bring their grain to be later transferred into the rail cars. The CPR ( Canadian Pacific Railway) built the rail line in 1928. The word “Anastasia” was painted on the tank because Anastasia Holoboff declared herself the leader of the Doukhobors in this village. Anastasia convinced more than 160 followers to move to the Colony.

Anastasia’s village, Shouldice district, Alberta, 1938.  Glenbow Archives PA-3563-3.

The village’s main occupation was grain-growing, and some income was earned by raising and selling garden produce. The first 3 years were followed by the poor crops of the 1930’s, when many men had to work outside the commune to supplement their incomes. Twenty Eight homes were built and its 160 inhabitants lived and worked here as part of the community to share in the earnings derived from the land. The village encompassed approximately 1,120 acres.

A wide dirt road was built from one end to the other, approximately 40 feet wide and 1/2 mile long to service both sides of the dwellings. There were 15 homes on the east side and 13 homes on the west side of the main road. Each home was allotted 1/2 an acre to build on and grow their personal gardens.

A large barn was built about 1/4 mile west and at the north end of the village to be used for milking the cows, a milk room and housed horses that were raised to pull equipment required to plow, seed and harvest the crops.  The upper level in the barn was used to store hay for feed through the winter months. In the middle of the community a blacksmith shop was built, fired by coal to make repairs to various equipment the community purchased.

A one room school was built on the north-east corner of the property that taught grades from 1 to 8 by one teacher, and the desks sat 2 persons, side by side, and there was no concern when a boy and girl sat together.

A cemetery was developed just to the north and some distance from the school and was maintained communally.

A large community prayer home was built at the south-east corner of the village in 1929, next door to Anastasia’s residence.

This large barn served the whole community at Anastasia’s village.  Photo by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.

East Side Families

The names of the families that occupied the homes, are listed, starting on the east side and from south to north of the village.

1. Anastasia Holoboff and Fedosia Verigin
Anastasia was the leader of the Doukhobor commune. Fedosia was her house keeper. Anastasia’s mother was a Verigin, cousin to Lukian & Fedosia. Fedosia was a sister to Lukian.

2. Marfa Konkin (lived together with Wasil Terichow). 

Marfa was originally married to a Vereschagin in Veregin, Sask. She later reverted back to her maiden name (Marfa Konkin).

3. Wasya and Mavroonia Verigin.
Margaret Anutooshkin’s parents. She married Peter J. Anutooshkin. Wasya was a son of Lukasha, brother to Lukian Verigin and nephew to Peter (Lordly) Verigin. Wasya was a cousin to Mary Faminow’s grandfather.

4. Ivan (John) and Nastia Verigin and Wasya Verigin

Wasya (Ivan’s father) was a brother to Peter W. (Lordly) Verigin. Ivan was a nephew to Peter W. (Lordly) Verigin and a cousin to Mary Faminow’s grandfather.

5. Andrei and Doonia Anutooshkin

Anutooshkins, the original residents, eventually passed away. Later, John Bonderoff & Annette (nee Tamelin) took over the home. Andrei was a twin to Peter – sons of Anuta & Gregori (George Semenoff).

6. Wasya and Nastia Samorodin
They had no children. Wasya was an uncle to Seoma (Sam).

7. Aleksei (Alex) and Anna Wishlow
Aleksei (Alex) was a brother to Lisoonia Konkin (below). Anna was the daughter of Lukian & Doonya Verigin, and a sister to Fred (below).

8. Michael and Hanya Deakoff

Also their son Michael and daughter Pearl (Paranya). Michael’s parents also lived with them. Michael’s mother was a relative of the Anutooshkin family.

9. Koozma and Nastia Konkin
Parents of Wasili (below) Nastia was a sister to Wasya Zibin, Aunt Polly Anutooshkin’s grandfather.

10. Peter and Polya Verigin
Peter was a brother to Ivan (above) and a nephew to Peter (Lordly) Verigin. His father was Wasya.

11. Wasya and Anuta Anutooshkin
Wasya was a brother to Vanya, Mary Faminow’s grandfather.

12. Fedya (Fred) and Polya Anutooshkin
Parents of Mary, Gaston Pozdinioff’s wife. Polya was originally married to a Planedin (deceased).

13. Joseph and Hanya Pereverzoff
Hanya was a daughter of Polya (above), from her first marriage; thus a half-sister to Mary Pozdnikoff.

14. Larion & Polya (Polly) Verigin
Larion was a brother to Peter and Ivan (above) and a nephew to Peter (Lordly) Verigin. His father was Wasya.

15. Ivan and Vasoonia (Vasilisa) Zarchukoff

Also, Vanya and Nastyoosha Anutooshkin, parents of Vasoonia. Vasoonia was a sister to Ivan John Anutooshkin), Mary Faminow’s father. Vanya and Nastyoosha were parents of Vasoonia and Mary Faminow’s grandparents.

Ruins of The Colony  today.  Much of the village structure is still visible.  Photo by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.

West Side Families

16. Feodor & Loosha Holoboff

Holoboffs were the original residents.  Later, Lukian & Doonya (deceased) Verigin; then Lukian re-married Marya Verigin. Lukian’s father, Lukasha was a nephew of Peter W. (Lordly) Verigin. Lukian was a cousin to Anastasia Holoboff’s mother. Lukian & Doonya Verigin moved into the home. They were parents of Anna Wishlow & Fred Verigin. Marya Verigin was a sister to Anastasia Holoboff & Varva (Vera) Verigin was Fred Verigin’s wife.

17. Seoma (Sam) & Hanya Samorodin

Samorodins were the original residents. Later, John J. & Avdotia Anutooshkin, parents of Peter, John, Mary & Michael, moved there. Avdotia was the daughter of Mike & Mary Osachoff.

18. Havroosha & Nastyoosha Sherbakoff
Havroosha’ sister was Hrunoosha Verigin (below). Their daughter Nastia, married a Holoboff.

19. Hrisha & Hrunoosha Verigin.
Hrisha was a brother to Peter (Lordly) Verigin and an uncle to Mary Faminow’s grandfather. Hrunoosha was a sister to Havroosha Sherbakoff.

20. Osachoff

Osachoffs were the original residents, moved away. Wasili & Marya Terichow took over this home. Marya was the daughter of Marfa Konkin.

21. Michael & Hanya Kinakin
Michael was a brother to Polya Sookochoff (below).

22. Lukeria Sookochoff

She was a Holoboff, mother to Peter Sookochoff and an aunt to Anastasia Holoboff (leader of the Doukhobors).

23. Peter & Polya Sookochoff

Sookochoffs were the original residents. Peter was the son of Lukeria (above). Feodor (Fred) & Varvara (Vera) Verigin moved in. Fred was the son of Lukian and Doonya Verigin and brother to Anna Wishlow. Varvara (Vera) Verigin is a sister to Anastasia Holoboff & Marya Verigin.

24. Wasili & Marya (Mary) Tamelin.
Wasya & Masha (Mary) Zibin also lived here in a small cottage beside the Tamelin’s. The Tamelin’s were parents of Aunt Polly & in-laws of Uncle John Anatooshkin (name change). Wasya and Marya Zibin were parents to Marya Tamelin. Wasya was a brother to Nastia Konkin (above).

25. Alyosha & Marfoonia Anutooshkin.
Alyosha was a brother to Mary Faminow’s grandfather, Vanya. Marfoonia was possibly a Zibin.

26. Gregori & Aksenia Bonderoff.
Gregory was possibly a Zibin.

27. Wasili & Lisoonia Konkin
Wasili was the son of Koozma & Nastia Konkin (above). Lisoonia is a sister to Aleksei (Alex) Wishlow (above).

28. Peter & Margaret Anutooshkin

Also William, Peter & Paul, (Lucy was born in Mission, B.C. at a later date). Peter was the son of John J. & Avdotia Anutooshkin. Margaret was the daughter of Wasya & Mavroonia Verigin and the niece of Lukian Verigin. Margaret’s grandfather Lukasha Verigin, was a brother of Peter (Lordly) Verigin.

The village prayer home.  The structure is still standing.  Photo by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.

Exodus of Families from the Colony

The Depression and especially the exodus that followed – when many of its members took advantage of new opportunities for successful independent farming – severely affected the Community. By the mid 1940’s, the communal way of life among the Alberta Doukhobors had all but disappeared. In fact, even in the late 1920’s, independent Doukhobor families had begun moving into the area of British Columbia and Saskatchewan and it was not long before their numbers equaled those of the Community members.

By the late 1930’s, following land shortages and successive crop failures, Anastasia’s communal settlement dwindled, family by family, until the Colony was eventually abandoned in 1945.

In 1943, Peter J. Anutooshkin was transferred from Curry Barracks in Calgary (a large army base during the war), to the shipyards in Vancouver, British Columbia to work on building ships for the war effort. In 1944, he contacted his wife Margaret and told her to sell everything and prepare to move to B.C. During the Easter holidays in 1944, Margaret and sons, William, Peter and Paul took a train to Mission City, British Columbia.

Mike Anatooshkin went to work in Calgary during 1943 where he worked delivering milk and blocks of ice in a horse-drawn wagon to various families. Mike later followed his brother Peter and moved to New Westminster in 1943 where he went to work at the Boeings Aircraft manufacturing plant in Queensborough, South of New Westminster.

John Anatooshkin and his family, were the last to move to Mission City in 1946.

Their mother Avdotia went to live with her daughter in Lundbreck, Alberta for a short time and then later also moved to Mission City.

Anastasia’s original house (and attached bath house) today.  Photo by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.