Molokan Immigration Via Canada
Between 1904 and 1912, over 3,500 Molokans emigrated from the Caucasus region of Russia to the United States. The majority of the Russian sectarian immigrants arrived through the main American immigration ports of Ellis Island, New York and Galveston, Texas. However, recent archival discoveries confirm that approximately two hundred Molokan immigrants - over five per-cent of all Molokans who joined the migration - arrived through east Canadian ports between 1904 and 1907, then journeyed overland by rail through Canada before turning stateside on the final leg of their journey to their destination in Los Angeles, California. The following is an index of known Canadian ship passenger records and border crossing records containing Molokan immigrants. Compiled by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.
Between 1904 and 1907, over one hundred and sixty Molokans took coastal ships from Russia to the Western European ports of Liverpool, England and Antwerp, Belgium, where they boarded transatlantic ships bound for Canada. They disembarked at the ports of Quebec City, Quebec and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original ship passenger lists, available online at Library and Archives Canada, contain the following information for each Molokan immigrant: date of embarkation, name, age, gender, whether a head of a household on board, number of persons in the family, profession, calling or occupation, nation or country of birth, place of ultimate destination and name of personal contact there. The following indices contain transcriptions of Molokan ship passenger lists.
Over one hundred and ninety Molokans crossed into the United States from Canada via ports of entry at Winnipeg, Manitoba and Vancouver, British Columbia along the U.S.-Canadian border between 1904 and 1907. The original border crossing records, available online at Ancestry.com, contain the following information for each Molokan immigrant: name, age, birthdate, birthplace, gender, nationality, names of individuals accompanied by, name of nearest relative or friend in former country, and name of nearest relative or friend at destination. The following index contains a transcription of Molokan border entry records. Download Index
At least one group of Molokan immigrants appears to have arrived in Canada with intentions to stay. In 1905, 160 Molokans from Kars, Russia arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba seeking land in the Canadian West to settle on and farm. They aroused widespread interest and curiosity among city residents, and received a hearty welcome from local Doukhobors and Russian émigrés. Click here for a newspaper account of their sojourn in Manitoba.
The names recorded in the ship passenger lists and border crossing records are the original Russian, pre-Americanized versions of names. Furthermore, they were written down by officials phonetically the way that they sounded. Therefore, do not expect to find your Molokan ancestor's name spelled as it is today; realize that your immigrant ancestor may have been illiterate and even if he or she could read Russian, they would not be able to recognize their written name in the records since it was written in English. Researchers must be able to recognize alternate spellings for the surnames they are looking for. To cross reference English spelling variants with the original standardized Russian forms of surnames, visit the Origin & Meaning of Molokan Surnames.