Spirit-Wrestlers' Voices: Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of Their Migration to Canada in 1899

By Hunter, Kate | Canadian Slavonic Papers, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Spirit-Wrestlers' Voices: Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of Their Migration to Canada in 1899


Hunter, Kate, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Koozma J. Tarasoff, ed. Spirit-Wrestlers' Voices: Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of their Migration to Canada in 1899. Ottawa: Legal, 1998. vi, 387 pp. Illustrations. $25.00, paper.

This volume commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary of the Doukhobors' mass migration to Canada in 1899. Compiled and edited by Koozma Tarasoff of the Museum of Civilization in Hull, it includes memoirs, essays and poetry written mainly (but not exclusively) by Canadian Doukhobors.

The book is divided into six sections, with each section focusing on a different aspect of Doukhobor life. The first, "Material and Artistic Achievements," describes the success the Doukhobors have enjoyed in business, art, literature and sports. The article about athletes, "Doukhobor Stars in the Sports World," by Peter F. Chernoff, is excellent. This part of the book gives some good and interesting details on the origins of the faith of the Doukhobors and the reasons for their move to Canada.

The second section, "Traditions Preserved," focuses on various traditions and how they have been adapted to life in Canada. For instance, pacifism has evolved in such a way that many Doukhobors are now active in the Canadian peace movement ("Doukhobor peace manifestations in Canada," by John J. Semenoff). In this section there is a good description of how the Doukhobors lived when they first settled in Saskatchewan, the schism that occurred between groups with conflicting interpretations of the faith, and the move to British Columbia.

In "Learning and Adapting," the contributors discuss questions that have confronted the Doukhobors since they arrived in Canada, such as intermarriage, Cold War politics, and the competitiveness inherent in traditional children's games, which some Doukhobors consider unhealthy and counterproductive. This section of the book explains that the interpretation of Doukhoborism may have changed, but the essential messages of tolerance and non-violence have been preserved and, in many ways, influenced non-Doukhobors as well.

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