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Immigration Department assessment of Doukhobor emigration from Canada 1924

May 19, 1924

Dear Mr. Little
I find on looking up our file of papers that for some months now, in fact for a couple of years or more, reports have periodically reached the Department [of Immigration and Colonization] that the Doukhobours [sic] were about to leave Canada. The movement of Doukhobours was reported as making for Mexico, for Russian and for the United States. A delegation it appears was sent to Mexico more than a year ago, but the report was not very satisfactory. A delegation went to Russia and on its return it appears to have been seriously divided as to the desirability of the move. However, the report of some who favoured return to Russia has resulted I believe in a few families going back to Russia.

In order to understand the present situation with regard to unrest among Doukhobours, it is necessary that we go back for a few years. Shortly after the war some unrest was noticed and some cleavage between the Doukhobours themselves. The Doukhobour camp is today pretty well divided into two sections which are known as the Community Doukhobours (under their leader Peter Verigin) and the Independent Doukhobours. It is the Independent Doukhobours that have some leaning towards returning to Russia. The movement had its inception in the winter of 1921-22 when two men, one of whom was Ptopoff [sic] went as a delegate to Russia and while there had some negotiations for a tract of land bordering on the Black Sea. ... As a result of the visit of this delegation to Russia some sixteen Doukhobours left Canada in the autumn of 1922. In February of this year about 28 left. ...

There is not likely to be any further movement to Russia until the autumn and even then it is doubtful whether there will be any considerable movement owing to the difficulty of selling lands in Canada at the price they want and the added doubt and disaffection there appears to be as to the real merits of settlement in Russia. ...

Yours very truly
[no signature]
For Assistant Deputy Minister

Source: Library and Archives Canada, RG 76, Vol. 185 File 65101 Part 11 (Reel C-7340), Unknown, "Immigration Department assessment of Doukhobor emigration from Canada 1924," May 19, 1924.

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