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Report of the General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community held in Nadezhda Village, February 28, 1904

 

Yorkton Enterprise

 

During the first decades of the twentieth century, the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was governed by general meetings that were held early each year to receive the annual report and financial statement prepared by the representative committee and to vote on various matters of policy and practice brought before them. These gatherings were typically attended by two delegates from each village, the administrators in charge of community affairs and the leader Peter “Lordly” Verigin. The following is a rare extant report of the general meeting of the Doukhobor Community held at Nadezhda village, Saskatchewan, on February 28, 1904, as published in the Yorkton Enterprise, Vol. 8, No. 16, April 21, 1904. The minutes provide extraordinary insight into the administrative matters of the day, including the naturalization question, financial assistance to the Yakutsk exiles, the need for a Quaker-sponsored school, establishment of a brickworks and large warehouse near the C.P.R, the use of steam-powered agricultural machinery, the necessity of tea and sugar in the diet, and various capital expenditures. In addition, the general account leaves no doubt of the extent of the material growth of the Community under Verigin’s leadership, one year after his arrival from exile in Siberia.

 


 

As well as other matters, the following questions were dealt with –

 

1. Concerning Naturalization. Decided to refer the matter to all members of the community for their consideration and decision whether they desire to be naturalized or not.

 

2. Concerning Local Improvement Taxes. Decided to pay the tax of $2 per homestead demanded for 1903 but to send to Regina a deputation of two men to request for Doukhobors the right to perform work in lieu of taxation.

 

3. Decided to remit $500 to the Yakoutsk brethren for use of the sick and aged. Decided also to send further money, should it be needed, for the transportation of men allowed to come to Canada.

 

4. Accounts of receipts and expenditure for the past year were read and confirmed.

 

5. Decided to purchase the following for spring work:

 

            Seeders

            2 saw mills (1 for Good Spirit Lake and 1 for South Colony)

            1 planning machine for Thunder Hill lumber mill

           

6. Decided to buy one engine for steam plowing for trial whether more profitable than horse power.

 

7. Decided to buy one brickmaking machine.

 

8. Decided to try, in spring, to make and burn in each village, tiles for roofing.

 

9. Decided to build seed oil mills in each village.

 

10. Decided to build at each flour mill flax beaters as at Otradnoe; also stable and good rooms for men coming to mills.

 

11. Decided to buy for breeding purposes, in summer, 100 milch cows and 100 Angora goats.

 

12. Decided to buy, in spring, locally near Yorkton, 80,000 pounds of wool for weaving.

 

13. The question being raised whether, as the committee have no more money, it was desirable to buy sugar, it was decided by a majority of the meeting that tea and sugar were necessary foods and should be bought.

 

14. Decided to build a warehouse by C.N.R. near Vera village, logs to be hauled before the winter trails go.

 

15. Decided that one man must always be at warehouse near Vera, and that until said warehouse is ready, he shall be at Yorkton as during last summer, where the work of Ivan Podavilnikoff was of great advantage in buying goods cheaply.

 

16. Decided that the proposal of the Quakers to build a training school for Doukhobor teachers was unnecessary.

 

17. Decided that every village shall appoint two men as elders as was done last year, but that these men should not take a very strong part in the management of affairs.

 

18. Elected to effect all purchases of supplies for the entire community: Nikoloy Ziboroff and Vassili Potopoff and Peter Verigin, and to be English interpreter and to attend all correspondence, Simeon Reiben.

 

19. Elected to superintend all matters affecting the horses of the community, Paul Planidin and Feodor Souhotcheff.

 

20. Decided to hold the next meeting in the fall.

 

21. Elected to superintend all matters affecting the sheep of the community, Andrei Semenoff and Ivan Verigin.

 

An account of Receipts and Expenditures of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood in Canada for 1903.

 

Receipts

 

 

 

1.   To cash in hands of Paul Planidin and Nikoloy Ziboroff

 

      at date of Peter Verigin’s arrival                                                                     

$426.00

2.   To sale, by Dominion Government, of cattle set at liberty, less

 

      expenditure by Government on behalf of brothers and sisters

$9,120.00

3.   To cash received from Prince Albert brothers                                              

$8,776.00

4.   To cash received from all villages being half of cash in hand

$5,956.00

5.   To sale of young cattle and steers                                                               

 $6,052.00

6.   Loan from Bank at Yorkton for transportation of workers                           

$2,000.00

7.   To cash received from villages, being balance of cash in hand                       

$1,852.00

8.   To earnings of workers of all villages                                                       

$111,679.00

9.   To earnings from community contract                                                          

$7,786.00

10. To sales of senega root                                                                             

$10,033.00

11. To cash received from Prince Albert Colony in payment of

 

      homestead entries                                                                                       

$1,100.00

12. To sale of useless horses                                                                                

$121.00

13. Loan from Bank at Yorkton                                                                        

$2,000.00

 

 

Total Receipts                                                                                              

$166,901.00

 

 

Expenditure

 

 

 

Part I. – Land

 

 

 

1.   By entry fees for homesteads                                                                    

$21,370.00

2.   By purchase of 13 sections of land near village Vera: paid deposit

$10,000.00

3.   By purchase of 3 quarter sections of Hudson’s Bay CO. land

 

      near villages Otradnoe, Nadeshda and Smirenovkaj paid deposit                    

$360.00

 

 

Total payment for land                                                                                    

$31,730.00

 

 

Part II. – Stock

 

 

 

1.   By expenses in connection with the transportation of 36 horses

 

      received from Prince Albert brethren                                                                

$65.00

2.   By purchase by Paul Planidin in Winnipeg of 35 horses at $200 each           

$7,000.00

3.   By purchase of 5 stallions                                                                            

$3,150.00

4.   By purchases, 300 horses at $75 each, 10 saddle horses at $65 each,

 

      9 mares for breeding ($1,900) and two teams with wagon, tent, etc.          

$25,969.00

5.   By purchases from Buchanan 7 horses and from Plaxin 2 horses                  

$1,200.00

6.   By expenses: freight from Winnipeg, cost of driving, payments to

 

      guides, supplies, etc.                                                                                      

$750.00

7.   By purchase of sheep                                                                                  

$1,461.00

 

 

Total expenditure for stock                                                                             

$39,322.00

 

 

Part III. – Implements and Machinery

 

 

 

1.   By purchase of 6 engines with seperators                                                  

$15,290.00

2.   By purchase of 2 saw mills                                                                             

$900.00

3.   By purchase of 50 binders at $125 each                                                      

$6,250.00

4.   By purchase of 20,000 lbs binder twine @ 13c                                           

$2,600.00

5.   By purchase of 32 mowers @ $46                                                              

$1,472.00

6.   By purchase of 59 walking plows @ $24                                                    

$1,700.00

7.   By purchase of 50 gang plows @ $34                                                         

$1,700.00

8.   By purchase of 30 disc harrows @ $36 and 15 @ $31                               

$1,545.00

9.   By purchase of 20 shoe drills @ $70 and $90                                             

$1,560.00

10. By purchase of 16 wagons, 10 @ $65 and 6 @ $72                                   

$1,082.00

11. By purchase of 152 sleighs: 102 @ $21.50 and 50 @ $22.65                     

$3,325.00

12. By purchase of two cutters                                                                             

$136.00

13. By purchase of 234 sections drag harrows @ $11.50                                  

$2,691.00

14. By purchase of 12 fanning mills @ $35                                                           

$420.00

15. By repairs for engines and separators and engineers’ supplies                      

$1,100.00

16. By expenses of transport of machinery from Yorkton, lubricating oil etc.

$507.00

17. By expenses of setting up machinery, etc.                                                       

$145.00

18. By expenses for flour mills                                                                              

$868.00

19. By repairs and other expenses for saw mills                                                    

$585.00

 

 

Total expenditure for implements and machinery                                              

$43,682.00

 

 

Part IV. – Dry Goods, Hardware and General Supplies

 

 

 

1.   By dry goods                                                                                            

$29,338.00

2.   By flour and garden seeds (spring 1903)                                                     

$2,761.00

3.   By purchases of wheat (spring 1904)                                                          

$7,500.00

4.   By purchases oats (spring 1904)                                                                 

$2,080.00

5.   By purchases of harness and shoe leather                                                  

$13,445.00

6.   By purchases of winter footwear                                                                 

$4,913.00

7.   By purchases of hardware, crockery and tools                                            

$5,830.00

8.   By purchases of sugar, tea, etc.                                                                   

$2,295.00

9.   By purchases of salt, coal oil and glass                                                        

$2,725.00

10. By purchases of wool                                                                                 

$1,526.00

11. By purchases of soap                                                                                  

$1,780.00

12. By purchases of butter                                                                                

$1,772.00

13. By minor purchases in Yorkton and Swan River by all villages                  

 $10,943.00

 

 

Total                                                                                                              

$86,908.00

 

 

Part V. – Sundries

 

 

 

1.   By remittance to Yakoutsk for aged and sick brethren                                    

$500.00

2.   By remittance to V. Tchertkoff in acknowledgement of help to

 

      Doukhobors in their immigration                                                                     

$500.00

3.   By remittance to A. Maude, repayment of loan                                            

$1,250.00

4.   By payment to Joseph Konstantinovitch for his journey                                   

$300.00

5.   By remittance to Moscow, to Dorieff, for books                                             

$200.00

6.   By remittance to Leo Tolstoy for assistance to Pavlovtzi in penal

 

      servitude                                                                                                        

$300.00

7.   By remittance to brothers Sherbokoff, Fofonoff, and Novokshanoff                

$200.00

8.   By remittance to Tarassoff for travelling expenses                                           

$100.00

9.   By remittance to Vassili Zibin                                                                         

$100.00

10. By payment to C.P.R. for balance of fares                                                      

$105.00

11. By salary of German engineer and blacksmith for one year                              

$350.00

12. By payments to H.P. Archer, teacher at North Colony                                   

$165.00

13. By freight on goods purchased in Winnipeg, etc.                                         

 $1,580.00

14. By travelling expenses of Peter Verigin and assistants                                      

$855.00

15. By expenses of building house at Yorkton                                                      

$303.00

16. By payment of school taxes, Devil’s Lake                                                      

$747.00

17. By typewriter, stationery and postage                                                             

$285.00

18. By taxes for stables and fees for timber permits                                                

$85.00

19. By sundry payments in Swan River and Yorkton of outstanding

 

      debts of villages                                                                                          

$2,957.00

20. By living expenses in Yorkton of Vassili Potapoff and sundry

 

      expenses for freight of coal oil, leather purchases                                            

$402.00

 

 

Total                                                                                                              

$11,284.00

 

 

Summary

 

 

 

Total expenditure –

 

 

 

      Part I.                                                                                                       

$31,780.00

      Part II.                                                                                                     

$39,322.00

      Part III.                                                                                                    

$43,682.00

      Part IV.                                                                                                   

 $86,908.00

      Part V.                                                                                                     

$11,234.00

 

 

Total expenditure                                                                                          

$212,876.00

Total receipts                                                                                                

$166,901.00

 

 

Balance owing                                                                                                

$45,975.00

 

About half of the above balance is due for horses and balance of homestead entry fees; and the rest for supplies purchased in Winnipeg.

 

Peter Verigin

Nikoloy Ziboroff

Paul Planidin,

Committee

 

Simeon Reiben,

Interpreter

 


 

Notes

 

The Community was formally a democracy in which the general meeting was the supreme governance authority. However, in practice, while Peter “Lordly” Verigin’s formal powers were small, his real influence was immense. This was due, not only to his position as hereditary leader, but to his powerful personality, superior education and intellectual prowess. Resolutions at the annual general meetings never went contrary to his advice, and during the twelve months that elapsed between meetings, he and his advisors acted as an executive with sweeping powers to make almost any decision on behalf of the Community.

The general account reveals the dual financial structure within the Community, consisting of the central office and treasury and the villages. All village income, sales and other general transactions were dispatched through the central office. At the same time, assets were held by the Community as a whole as well as by the villages.

In 1903, the income of the Community as a business concern amounted to $166,901.00 and its expenditures amounted to $212,876.00, not counting a $4,000.00 bank loan, leaving a balance owing of $45,975.00. This balance marks the beginning of Verigin's deficit financing program for the Community, whereby a planned excess of expenditure over income created a shortfall of Community revenue which was met by borrowing. The decision to create a deficit was made to build up the infrastructure of the Community as a self-contained entity through great investments in machinery and industrial plants.

The general account gives an incomplete idea of the overall productiveness of the Community, which, numbering over eight thousand people, was largely self-supporting. Many tens of thousands of tonnes of wheat were grown and ground into flour, vegetables grown for food, flax and wool produced, spun and woven for clothing, dairy products produced from the communal herd of cattle, and many buildings, equipment and household goods manufactured, all for internal use by the Community. None of this directly involved income or expenditure, assets or liabilities, and therefore, was not included in the general account.

Finally, in reviewing the general account it must be recalled that only four years prior, the Doukhobors had arrived in Canada with no capital but strong hearts and willing hands, none having even the faintest knowledge of the English language, Canadian law, or modern methods of business and agriculture. Peter "Lordly" Verigin had joined them from exile in Siberia in 1902, and the initial success of his leadership can be measured in material terms by the acquisitions of the Community by the end of 1903, a bare year after his arrival.

 

For more information on the general meetings and accounts of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, see the 1906 Report, 1910 Report and the 1912 Report of the General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community.