During World War I, the ever-astute Verigin negotiated to supply jams and preservatives through the Red Cross for the fighting men overseas and for the families of the fighting men. (Ironically, because of that very fact, the KC Preservatives name had become known worldwide and the market was strengthened for the Doukhobor preservatives well after the war ceased). However, this was no appeasement to the nearby locals or others, for when the war was over, some of the Doukhobors' neighbours actually tried to seize their dearly acquired lands for the returning veterans.

They also did not approve of the Doukhobors' desire to educate their children in their own schools, in the Russian language, and little in the English language. In essence, the Doukhobors were regarded as an unusual, foreign lot, particularly when they gathered together in their massive sobranies, dressed in their home made clothes, and chanting their mystical sounding a cappella psalms and hymns. In 1919 the Province of BC took away their right to vote.


For reasons unknown, in 1922 Doukhobor parents were starting to withdraw their children from schools. The authorities acted quickly and levied hefty fines on the parents. A truck was seized for failure to pay the fines but returned as the fines were then paid.


However, in 1923 the first arson occurred on one of the schools in Brilliant and in the coming months, nine schools were burned to the ground in the district - directly coinciding with police attempts to seize property when fines weren't paid. No one was ever charged for these burnings as no proof could be found.


Over 7000 attend to the funeral of Peter Vasilievich Verigin
2 November 1924
Brilliant, BC, Canada


The Death of Peter 'Lordly' Verigin

Many theories have been forwarded as to the cause, or of who was responsible, but in the early morning of October 29th of 1924, Peter 'Lordly' Verigin (along with eight others) was killed by an explosion in a train car in which he was traveling. It was investigated at the time and found not to be an accidental explosion but deliberate. However, apparently no hard-core proof could be found as to who would have done it. Verigin had many foes. The Canadian government nervously watched the success of the commune of these peculiar people from the now revolutionized country of the birth of communism. Could this ?nuisance' help turn the Dominion into a communist state? The commune would be helpless without Verigin. With the aid of the BC Provincial Police and the railway company, could they carry out his execution?

Certainly he had considerable enemies within the community as well, for as much as most adored him, a few would be happier if he wasn't in control.. But to think that another Doukhobor, regardless of political view, would take another Doukhobor's life would be ludicrous.

Another theory was an European watchmaker named Metro Grishen could have planted a time-device upon instruction by the Bolsheviks. The theory was that they had Verigin killed in order to prevent a planned move back to Russia.


Early Verigin tomb
29 August 1925
Brilliant, BC, Canada

Photo by Thomas Gushel, a famed photographer of Doukhobor culture


The Sons of Freedom had been thought to be the culprits as well - especially since Verigin's own home had been burned down shortly before he died (the Sons of Freedom of course were immediately suspected of this arson). But there was no substantial proof or connection.
In 1923 Verigin had purchased 800 acres in Eugene Oregon and some of the Brilliant Doukhobor families settled there. In Oregon, the Klu Klux Klan was holding rallies against communist foreigners. Verigin had investigated further purchases in Colorado where he thought the Doukhobors might live more peacefully, without persecution, than in BC. Did the Klu Klux Klan have Verigin killed? Again there was no proof.

Yet another theory was that Verigin's young assistant, Mary Strelioff and he were having an affair and the bomb was planted by a jealous lover. (It was unlikely that Ms. Strelioff had any 'lover' outside the Doukhobor community and again, the killing of one Doukhobor by another would be unthinkable).


Closeup of the early Verigin Tomb
29 August 1925
Brilliant, BC, Canada

Photo by Thomas Gushel, a famed photographer of Doukhobor culture


Another theory was that his son, Peter P. Verigin, who was in Russia at the time, arranged his father's death so that he could take over the leadership (and the considerable wealth) of the CCUB. (In a visit to Canada in 1905 and then again in 1906, he was openly critical of both his father and of the community. Again, this theory pits Doukhobor against Doukhobor, but more improbable was the young Verigin's ability to arrange anything so extravagant as a murder from inside Russia in a distant country. One more theory was that Verigin was planning to attend a meeting the next day in Grand Forks and travel on to a further meeting in Spokane with lumber businessmen. Could a rival business partner not want this deal to close?

And finally there was a theory that John A. Mackie, a member of the BC legislature, who was sitting close to Verigin and was killed as well, was the actual target for some political motive, and not Verigin at all. At date of writing, this great Canadian mystery had not been solved.


Over 7,000 attended Peter Vasilievich Verigin's funeral. The loyal followers (Community Doukhobors and even Independent Doukhobors from Saskatchewan), as well as dignitaries showed up to honour and pay respects to this great man who died at the age of 65 under the most mysterious of circumstances.

To the majority of the Doukhobors, this was a tragic event. At the following six week memorial, a new leader would have to be recognized. If Verigin left any instructions, none were known to exist as to who would become the next leader of the CCUB.


Over 7000 attended at the Peter V. Verigin funeral
2 November 1924
Brilliant, BC, Canada


Peter Petrovich Verigin
Circa 1930


Peter Petrovich Verigin ('Chistiakov' - The Purger)

Following the traditional prayers, psalms and hymns at the six week memorial at Peter Lordly's tomb, on December 10th, 1924 the rightful heir to the leadership was recognized to be Peter Petrovich Verigin - the son Peter Lordly left behind as a baby in the Caucuses when his father became Lukeria Kalmykova's student over 4 decades ago. The problem was, Peter Petrovich was still in Russia and would have to come to Canada to assume control.


Anastasia Gulobova, wife of Peter Lordly Verigin
Circa 1900s
Saskatchewan or BC, Canada