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Doukhobor, Settlement

Doukhobor is a Russian word that, when translated, means "Spirit Wrestler." The name Doukhobor was given to the Doukhobor peoples by Russian government during the 18th century when the Doukhobors refused to give up their religion. The Doukhobors also refused to join the Russian Imperial Army.

In 1895, after refusing to serve in the Tsar's army and taking an oath of allegiance to the Tsar, Russian Doukhobors set fire to all of their own guns and knives in a protest against joining the military. Their actions made the Russian government very mad. With the assistance of the great Russian writer Lev Tolstoy and other pacifist (peaceful) groups such as the Quakers, 7500 Doukhobors moved to Canada in 1899, hoping to establish bloc settlements (where they could live together or close together) and start a more peaceful life where they were free to practice their beliefs.

The first Doukhobor settlements in Alberta were built in 1916 at Cowley and Lundbreck in southern Alberta. Families lived separately but shared food preparation in a communal kitchen. Such communities would continue to be established until the end of World War I at places such as Nanton, Mossleigh, Arrowwood and near Wetaskiwin.

Breaking the Ground

Breaking the Ground

Orthodox Doukhobors

Orthodox Doukhobors