Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Russians sail to Canada

31 January 1899
Doukhobors collection, inventory nr. 7

Doukhobors – literally 'spirit wrestlers' - belonged to a Russian religious sect that was severely persecuted by the church and the state for their pacifist ideas at the end of the nineteenth century. A large-scale immigration to Canada began in 1898. The first group's passage was paid for by sympathetic peace-lovers from other countries. In Canada the Doukhobors established agrarian communities. It is possible to trace even the smallest details of their voyage and rebuilding of their life in the new world in the 'Doukhobors' collection at the IISH. The list of medicines for the ship's surgeon, dated 31 January 1899, includes cocaine and opium as inexpensive pain-killers. Today, 30,000 Doukhobors still live in Canada, and possibly the same number in Russia.