Skip to content

Throwback: Doukhobors hope to settle in Delta

The Doukhobors at one time were hoping to start a colony in Delta.
delta optimist throwback
A 1928 Doukhobor gathering in Ootischenia, B.C., near Castlegar.

The Doukhobors at one time were hoping to start a colony in Delta.

A November 1902 open letter to then mayor Thomas Ladner, published in the Delta Times, from members of the religious sect asked that the municipality consider allowing a settlement along the Fraser River by those who were residing during that time in Yorkton and Foxwarren in Canada.

“Some time ago the Canadian Government being anxious that a colony of our people should migrate to this country with a view with a view of settling up the prairie land of the North-West, a special representative was sent over to induce us to leave our homes, and become engaged in agricultural pursuits, a promise being made that a large tract of land would be set aside for us at Yorkton, and special privileges were to be granted to us should we move to the new land….It soon became evident to us that our liberties of action as conceded and granted to us by the government were not respected by the mounted police, and the Mission Tabernacle that was to be erected to us has not yet been built.”

Noting they had also approached the B.C. government, the letter goes on the state, “To reply to our communication was short, curt, and evasive giving no encouragement whatever, and we now plead our Christian cause before you in this missive, praying that your friendly influence may be brought to bear upon your fellow townsmen and members of the council, so that you will extend to us a helping hand in assisting us to procure a small tract of land along the banks of the Fraser river that we may get homes for our families and once again dwell in blissful happiness.”

The letter also noted they had no desire at the time to engage in agriculture but would “cheerfully comply with your statutory laws.”

The letter concluded, “As the cold weather is at hand and our people are anxious and escape the trials and endurements of a long and tedious winter, we urgently ask that you give an early reply to this communication, extending us encouragement in our proposed pilgrimage to your land, that we may seek pastures anew, and become once again settled in our homes with our families as we were before, in the land of our adoption.”

Known for their radical pacifist views that brought them notoriety in the 20th Century, many Doukhobors still live in Western Canada.

A more radical splinter group called Sons of Freedom torched their own homes and public buildings, as well as protested in the nude, in a show of defiance against Canadian authority.