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Attempt to Burn Doukhobor School

Did Peter Verigin or H.W. Casakoff Have Any Part in Suggesting the School Fire?

[ Verigin's home at Brilliant, destroyed by arson in April 1924, Freedomites suspected, Early 1920s, Unknown, Koozma Tarasoff personal collection 1107 ]

Was it at the instigation or suggestion of Peter Verigin or H.W. Casakoff that an attempt was made to burn the Outlook Doukhobor school last Monday morning?

Was it the idea that if the school was destroyed there would be none to send certain Doukhobor children to, and therefore no further fines could be imposed?

These are pertinent questions which are running through the minds of the average person hereabouts since the attempted incendiarism last Monday at the Outlook school.

At about 4.30 last Monday morning Miss Spence, teacher of the Outlook school, who resides in apartments at one end of the building, was awakened by an attempt of some person to gain entrance through her door. The culprit or culprits had a flashlight, and, according to Miss Spence, they went around to the side of the building and tried to get through the window. She was naturally excited and hastened to a neighboring house and roused the Beran family. She could see a fire being started in the school and hurried back to her quarters to save her personal belongings. When assistance arrived they were able to get the fire out with pails of water. The firebug or firebugs had flown, however, and the efforts of police are now being directed to apprehend the guilty.

Provincial Constable G.F. Killam was summoned early in the morning and looked the situation over. Later in the day he made a further inspection in company with Sergt. Reid of the R.C.M.P.

School Inspector Daniels was wired for and spent Wednesday in town going into the matter with the local board.

The attempted fire would appear to have special significance from the fact that there has been consternation among the Doukhobors since they were fined some months ago for not sending their children to school. Only last week Peter Verigin and H.W. Casakoff, the two Doukhobor chiefs, were in the valley discussed the matter with members of with their followers. Casakoff also discussed the matter with member of the school board and rather suggested thin veiled threats if the school board did not return the money paid in fines. There have been suggestions from Doukhobors of the community that “trouble was brewing” and when news of the attempted fire came on Monday no great surprise was expressed among people locally.

Source: "Attempt to Burn Doukhobor School," Grand Forks Gazette, March 30, 1923.

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