To Honor My Pacifist Grandparents as Russian Immigrants to Canada
Does it really matter who your ancestors were or the values they passed on to their generations? They are part of humanity that has learned though a rugged civilization process that cooperation and peace have lasting eternal virtues.
Then why have wars prevailed through the centuries where current brutal, merciless military forces are invading and destroying neighbors, a brotherhood and a civilized nation?
My grandparents left their villages in southern Georgia as part of the 7500 Doukhobor emigration in 1899; first to the Canadian prairies and then to the valleys of British Columbia.
A quick background describes the Doukhobors as Russian Christian peasants who objected to the excessive rituals of the Orthodox Church. The Czarist government persecuted them because they adopted pacifism, renounced militarism and burned their guns in a huge pile refusing to fight in one of their wars. They were able to emigrate to Canada where they were granted conscientious objector status and were exempted from military service.
Soon enough the group established dozens of communal village settlements often cultivating the land by women drawing the ploughs. With shared hard work, they developed a supportive agro-industrial complex with irrigation systems, orchards, jam factories and lumber mills while building one of the largest communal organizations.
My grandfather chose to seek independent land ownership and enterprise rather than being part of a communal lifestyle. He learned to speak English and soon bought some land in the valley, logged it, horse-plowed it into hay fields, built a log house without nails, raised sheep for wool, a garden to sell produce, even set up a small mercantile storefront to sell supplies to neighbors. He was the first man to own a model T-Ford in the valley and in his later years, drove a Volkswagen that he painted lime green (I don’t know why) so he could take his grandchildren on picnics.
He married my Grandmother as his second wife and raised a daughter, son and stepson. When my father and mother married, it was customary for…