Leo Tolstoy befriended the Dukhobors and helped enable them to go to Canada. Over 7,000 of them moved (1898–99) to what is now Saskatchewan. Veregin later joined them. Once more their abilities produced flourishing communities, and they spread after 1908 to British Columbia. Frugal, industrious, and abstemious, the Dukhobors built their own roads and their own irrigation projects. Orchards and farms flourished. The group was small but important in the development of W Canada.
There were internal divisions, however, primarily over the question of communal ownership of land. The Sons of Freedom stressed ascetic practices, most notably nudism. The Dukhobors in later days had much trouble with the government and with their non-Dukhobor neighbors; this occasionally burst into violence but was usually expressed in passive resistance. One of the more remarkable forms was the so-called nudist strikes, in which the Dukhobors stripped off their clothing and marched in revolt against governmental decisions.
The elder Peter Veregin was killed by a time bomb in 1924, and his son, Peter Veregin, came from Russia to lead the group. He died in 1939, recommending that the Dukhobors abandon communal life and adjust themselves to Canadian ways. In 1945 the Union of the Dukhobors of Canada was founded, but immediately afterward the Sons of Freedom made themselves a separate organization. There are a small number of adherents remaining in British Columbia and Russia.
See G. Woodcock and I. Avakumovic, The Doukhobors (1968).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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