Verigin, Peter (1859-1924)

Peter Verigin.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B2194

Peter Vasilevich Verigin (also recorded as Veregin) was born in Slavyanka, Russia on June 29, 1859; he became leader of the pacifist Russian sect of Doukhobors in 1886. In 1882 he was moved into Lukeria Klamakova's home, where he was taught all the religious and administrative aspects of this large sect of communally living peasants. The Doukhobors rejected secular government, the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus Christ; they were pacifists who resisted military service and did not consume meat or alcohol. For these reasons, they were persecuted and exiled to inhumane conditions in Georgia, Russia. In 1887 Verigin was exiled to Siberia.

In 1898-99 over 7,400 Doukhobors were admitted to Canada, where they established a communal lifestyle in what was later to become Saskatchewan; Verigin arrived in Yorkton in 1902. In 1905, Frank Oliver became Minister of the Interior and, interpreting the Dominion Act more strictly than his predecessor Clifford Sifton, began to pressure immigrants to register their communal lands under individual ownership and swear an Oath of Allegiance, a requirement for being granted homestead titles. When Doukhobors refused to swear this oath, their homesteads were cancelled. By 1907 their communal land system had ended, and in 1908 Verigin led 6,000 Doukhobors to British Columbia. Peter Vasilevich Verigin was killed in a train explosion on October 29, 1924; the cause of the explosion was not determined.

Daria Coneghan