The Changing Identity of “Doukhobor”

Most recently, I have been following Facebook entries on the Doukhobor page.

I am noticing a substantial attitude change to the descendants of the 7,400 initial migrants to Canada from religious persecution in Georgia (Russia) in 1899. It started by isolating themselves from the public so that they could establish a thriving cooperative and then the attraction of self-sufficiency and personal ownership became a driving force to integrate into the Canadian mosaic. Of course, the events surrounding the foreclosure on the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB) was a strong contributing force to accelerate that process.

Names were changed to disassociate with the Doukhobor family with the intent to become “successful”. I, too, was mentored by my Professor in my graduating year, “change your name as that will limit your success”.

Today I read inspiring articles and comments by many of the remaining Doukhobors who are not afraid to expose their ancestry.

I smile and am happy to witness the change that is taking place within my life time.

Posted April 08, 2018 at 1030 hours, Elmer Verigin


Comment on the Anti-Gun Demonstrations in the USA today, March 24, 2018

From what I am told,  the first major demonstration against guns was the 1895 Burning of Arms in Georgia (part of Russia at that time). So many took their guns and piled them on that rocky plain at the Perscheeree to note their objection to wars and the effect that any type of gun has upon the death and destruction of all humanity.

This action was misinterpreted as a possible uprising by the local authorities and a troop of Cossacks was dispatched to investigate. They found a group of people singing psalms around this large fire. The irritation to the attending Government Official was that none of the men removed their headwear in respect to this representative of the Czar.

And so about a 100 people were incarcerated in Irkurst for an initial time of 15 years which was reduced later to 10. My Great Grandfather and Great Uncle Morozoffs were part of these prisoners.

The American Youth are sending a resounding message to the Lawmakers to “take the guns away as we do not want to be the sacrificial lambs anymore!”

I wonder if the actual gun is the problem or is it the way we mange our social media. Since time began, the weakest chick gets “pecked” by the others until it dies. The runt in the pig’s litter gets eaten. There are other examples of the manner in which nature seems to deal with this. How many of you have been taunted or teased by others because you were different or that you disagreed with the majority?

So it seems that the common denominator  of the person who perpetrate against others is usually someone who felt they needed to “get even”. Once, the media sends out their news reels and reporters interview people, the event becomes national news and gets attention. The name of the shooter is broadcast and goes into infamy. Could this be the action, that also attracts the method to a person’s madness?

All news of terrible happenings seems to attract and so that is why the media rushes to those events because we “hunger” for this type of news. Someone providing food and medicines for the hungry just does not match up with stories of murder, rape and pillage.

So perhaps we need to work on our social morals and how we can live peacefully amongst our neighbors?

122 years have passed since our Doukhobor ancestors dared to send a message to the world. How many of the descendants even know that it took place? Did it really have any effect on the world? There is more steel used in guns than plowshares today so the message was lost in the delivery.

Will the Lawmakers listen to their children in the USA. Perhaps the entire process is a better class for the students than any taught within a classroom….”go out there and tell everyone that you are not accepting non-action! That you intend to send your message through the ballot box.”

Are they listening?

Posted 1100 hours, Saturday, March 24, 2018 by Elmer Verigin


“Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Walter Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland….”

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything….”

“Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, flunked out of college. He was described as “both unstable and unwilling to learn”….”

“Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded….”

“Babe Ruth, considered by sports historians to be the greatest athlete of all time and famous for setting the home run record, also holds the record for strikeouts….”

“Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He did not become Prime Minister of England until he was 62, and then only after a lifetime of defeats and setbacks. His greatest contributions came when he was a “senior citizen”…”

I looked over my dossier again and decided that I have done quite well considering.

I also read something else that was really thought provoking……….

This teacher had her class make a list of all the actions her students could complete the sentence that started with:

“…I can’t….

After a set period of time she collected all the papers into a shoe box and the  entire class then went out to the further part of the school yard.

The each contributed to digging a three (3) foot deep hole and then the carefully lowered the shoe box into the hole.

They then recited various rites as if a funeral was taking place and then they all contributed to the burial.

They returned to the class and consumed cookies and pop as if exercising a “wake”.

The Teacher then drew an outline of a tombstone and in heavy font wrote:



From that time forward, every time that a student said that he or she can’t, she referred to the tombstone and said “I can’t is buried and does no exist but he next of kin “I can” has received all the assets.


Thank you Marilyn for leaving this book on the vanity in my bathroom. I am making use of my “down time”.

Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by EWV.

A Personal Blog Posting on March 04, 2018

I was thinking today about diaries of famous people…………were they really their personal diary? Who would permit a personal diary to be published?

I read the personal diary of Lev Tolystoi. I was very impressed! After I read his personal challenges while he was serving in Crimea and the missing entries, then he would enter again and recount how he went gambling and drinking which resulted in using prostitutes, contracting venereal disease, the long recovery and his resolution to never do that again.

Later in his diary he admits to being disappointed with what he was doing as an Officer in the Russian Army and the fallacy of war. The result…….he did it all over again!

I have been down on the dumps over the last few weeks. The description is more of being listless. I just cannot find the personal courage to rise above being almost depressed and useless. I just cannot get to doing anything worthwhile except eating, resting and meditating on journeys that go nowhere.

It is like a Spring Fever, whatever that it is………. but it is still Winter?

This is a time in my life when I should be pleased with all:

  • No, I am not wealthy. I had chances to be financially wealthy but I chose not to advance on that path. Yes, it was a personal choice.
  • Marilyn and I are conditionally healthy so no real complaints there
  • My children are in satisfying careers and comfortable
  • They live within a 30 minutes of our house. Nice!
  • All my ten (10) grandchildren have either educated themselves into successful careers or are attending institutions and obtaining impressive grades on their paths to success
  • I completed my first book, Veregin Story 2017, and as first such attempt at writing books, it is passable and most significant: it was written and published in one year. It is now a fund-raiser for the National Doukhobor Heritage Village with sales commissions to the New Horizons in Veregin and the Doukhobor Discovery Center in Castlegar
  • I relinquished my resistance to Marilyn’s coaxing and I have written “My Journey Through a Life of Opportunity” which perhaps covers about 50% of my life and its challenges. It is there for my family who are surprised at who I was and what I was thinking about at that time.
  • I finally rummaged through my personal “suitcase” (the one I left home with) where I stored all my personal correspondence. I was able to sift through all and saved Marilyn’s letters and those of my mother as well as those from my Sister Mary and Brother-in-law John where they encouraged me to continue with university and would send small financial contributions to keep me from starving. This is now assembled into a binder and again, it is for my family.
  • I admit that my work ethic has conditioned me for a full day with little idle moments and so that may be a likely reason for my current feelings so I purchased Cadpro which is an excellent computer drafting program. I am learning how to use it by doing drawings for renovations of Nona and Tamara’s house as well as providing constructive suggestions for daughter Lori and Rick’s new house construction next year. The ultimate objective is to offer drafting to the public for small projects. Maybe that will absorb some of my frustration? It certainly will be an avenue to vent my 55 years in construction.
  • Whatshan Lake Retreat still has its stressful moments but I am comfortable that I have prepared the younger generation to take over. We are waiting for a Bulk Water Permit from Water Rights that can complete our zoning amendment from the Regional District. This achievement will render the Society independent of a constant need for donations and any government grants that occasionally come our way. It should allow funding for many needs in social and health enterprises. That was the original objective of the Founders. Whatshan Lake Retreat is a very successful project that will grow with the needs of the community.
  • Marilyn and I are just now out of debt for the first time in our lives. We have made a joint commitment to divest ourselves of what we are doing and not get involved in any new projects. No matter how well those projects were planned, we always seem to end up “holding the bag” so to speak. The last episode of seniors housing “Grandview” caused us to lose $200,000. What is ironic is that I had promised myself not to get involved again in any development after we left the Coast in 1993. A family decision with friends drew us in. The project is a great success as a 60 acre subdivision that boasts:
    • 47 seniors friendly bungalows and duplexes (all occupied)
    • 56 developed private residential lots (80 % constructed)
    • A Phase 11 – 43 lot residential lot subdivision (now under construction)
    • 13 acres has been set aside for a zoned 204 unit Seniors complex (shovel ready for construction (this is what forced the seniors cooperative to cease development)
    • All the critics predicted that there was not enough demand but here it is, well used.

So what then is my problem?

I am working on it………………….!

Posted 1500 hours, Sunday, March 04, 2018.

My First Career Challenge Was Working With People

The title is very true when my boss finally put me on a “Project Team” where I was to experience the challenges of teamwork in a successful project administration.

The project was $7 million in 1964 dollars which is about 3 times that now. It had multiple components and involved a Power House, Bleach Plant and constructing a 16″ steam that had to connect the Bleach Plant and Powerhouse with a 100′ difference in elevation. This was my training session for a future in construction that would include responsibility for a new pulp mill. This all took place at Watson Island, 11 miles South of Prince Rupert, B.C.

My team was a Project Cost Accountant and a Senior Design Engineer. The drawings were by H.A. Simons Engineering, a well established Pulp Mill Consultant. Tendering for Contractors was by Head office in Vancouver. Our mission was to ensure construction took place as per design and all tie-ins to the existing operation were ready. Then there was the Pulp Mill Operating Union to coordinate with the Construction Unions.

I realized quickly that there was no love lost between the two unions and so that was Problem number 1.

Organizing office space within a crowded Engineering Office was problem #2.

Building a construction camp within an operating pulp mill with a guard house was definitely problem #3.

To my surprise, I never anticipated problem #4 which was how to work with my “Team”

  1. My Cost Accountant, Bryan Debruyn was a British Veteran who had intercepted a German Pillbox during the Second World War and had his stomach ripped apart by 40 bullets. He hated Germans and advised me immediately that he would not talk to the Design Engineer
  2. My Design Engineer, Adolph Steigleder, had served in the World War as a Senior Design Engineer whose function was to design manufacturing plants for planes, tanks, etc. The objective was to conduct all designs in secret, then manufacture the equipment in three blocks at three different locations. The equipment would then be loaded on rail cars and shipped to a secret site for erection, in modules, by a crew who knew nothing about what they were building and were taken away before manufacturing started. No one in the three sites knew what they were manufacturing nor where it would be assembled to a production Plant. No one knew where the location of that Plant would be. But there was a tight schedule. He was a subdued man and understood the feelings of Bryan.
  3. So I had to site between the two and what one said have to be transmitted through me.

So that was the scene.

What I can say is that my boss could not have delegated two better men for the project as I learned quickly from their extended expertise that went back into the War.

I must say the project was very exciting for me as was in charge and had to make report to my boss that went on to senior management. It was completed successfully but there were stories that would entertain this reader many times over but that will take place next time.

Elmer Verigin, March 01, 2018 1715 hours

Metodi Petrov, Masters in Mechanical Engineering

The title seem unusual in my blog…………!

Rob Zwick, and Engineering friend just reminded me that he had worked in Prince Rupert at one time at Columbia Cellulose Co Ltd, Pulp Mill. He says that he met this Draftsman who talked about a “Russian Engineer” that once worked at the interesting operation back in 1963 – 65.

My memory lane opened up and found thoughts came forth of this quite man that methodically worked at his drafting board as the rest of us favored the coffee urn just behind him and swapped stories that were mostly true.

After introducing myself and hearing his name, I asked whether that was a Russian origin as the Engineering office at that time was a “United Nations” of recent immigrants from Holland, Germany, England, Scotland, Estonia, Sweden and other European countries. The Human Resources acquisition of four (4) freshly-graduate Engineers from the four (4) Western Provinces was almost a cultural shock as we were constantly talking and excited about applying our education to a struggling and badly maintained pulp mill. All the “veterans” were more reserved and curious about these “new guys”!

So Petrov, where is that from, I urged Metodi to converse as I was very interested.

“Bulgarian!” was the short answer and stopped there.

I was trained as a Chemical Engineer and graduated as a Civil and I was told that they also liked my long family construction background as the company was into an upgrading mode as well as a possible new pulp mill and I was to be groomed for this possibility.

My boss called me in and gave me a Mechanical Project Engineering assignment. “I am not sure I will be able to do this justice.” I observed after hearing the brief description of the problem and the desired resolution.

“I will designate Metodi as your Draftsman. Just follow his direction and the result will be very practical and functional. You will do well!” as he shooed me out of the door as he had a desk full of files.

I reviewed the information that I had on the subject and then I went into the Plant and had a look at the current operation to acquaint myself before I went to see Metodi.

“It looks like you and I are to get this project to a successful conclusion. I am concerned that I have no clue what the next step should be in this process,” I was very concerned about my contribution to this partnership.

Metodi’s face lit up and he smiled like I had not witnessed in the three (3) months since I arrived at the Mill. That is when he took the time to confide in me as follows:

I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer with a Master’s degree in Bulgaria. When the Germans invaded Bulgaria, I was “conscripted” and taken to Germany to work on their projects. Deadlines were almost impossible to meet and there was always the threat of penalty that he seemed nervous even now to explain but I could see his lips tremble at the thought. The stress was so severe that my ability to make decisions and have confidence in my work deteriorated rapidly until  I was unable to make decisions on my work as it was always altered by my German Superiors.

“I was able to finally escape and now I am still have difficulty making Engineering decisions even though I know what should be done. You sign my drawing and I will be just fine. I will explain everything to you and you will be able to take the project ti fruition.”

So started a friendly professional association that blossomed into a friendship when I was invited to his home and met his German spouse.

Dated March 01, 2018 at 1040 hours TBC Elmer Verigin

Pause for a needed interruption

So the project went well and the combination was well respected by our boss who placed us together on many other projects when I was in the office.

Metodi had many friends at PR and building house was a challenge with the shallow overburden on bed rock. The solution was concrete piers to anchors in bedrock and a reinforced concrete beam over the piers that made a good foundation. Metodi would do the drawings and I designed the reinforced concrete foundations. It was a great “moonlighting” activity that provided us good “beer money”.

I understand that Motodi did qualify for Professional Engineering status and retired in the Okanagan but I was unable to see him after our great time at PR.

Thank you Metodi!

Elmer 1200 noon Match 01, 2018

Veregin Story 2017

Yes that book, Veregin Story 2017, that we compiled with many volunteers to celebrate 100 years since:

  • Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was incorporated
  • The Veregin “Dom” was constructed

and of course, 150 years since Canada was created.

After receiving 75 copies from Telwell, I was excited to thumb through the pages and found that I read each one out of curiosity. I found that I was enjoying it for the first time as I had no other purpose except to read it with no editing, etc.

Yes, there will always be a few edits that somehow got missed but I am not going to waste time being upset.

I just need to thank all those listed in my acknowledgements again as without you, the book would not be what it is. We all felt that there was so much more that could have been included and that should be part of Book II for the enthusiastic Researcher.

Those who follow my blog, can obtain their copies (if desired) by contacting:

  1. National Doukhobor Heritage Village in Veregin, Saskatchewan by calling Peter Perepolkin at (306) 542 4441 or email
  2. Doukhobor Discovery Center in Castlegar, B.C. by calling Lisa Posnikoff at (250) 365 5327 or email
  3. Elmer Verigin, Castlegar, B.C. (250) 608 2215 or email

The Project was a first time book for me and very enjoyable journey with a large sweeping learning curve.

Posted by Elmer Verigin January 26, 2018 at 0910 hours


Here it is another year begins with renewed hope that our World Leaders will act responsibly.

We can do our part by showing respect and compassion to our neighbors, our friends and most of all, our family. If we only do those minimal things, the “ripples” of kindness will touch our ever growing circle and embrace many. This is the message within our control and it does not cost any money.

To all my Blog Readers, I want to thank you for reading my ramblings and my venue for expression of how I feel.

In 2017, I was able to work with a bunch of beautiful people in British Columbia and construct a Baunya that will serve the Volunteer section at Whatshan Lake Retreat and be a “treat” to many who may wish to use it. We have a few “deficiencies” to complete as well as an irrigation and final landscaping.

In Saskatchewan, many of you celebrated 100 years of the Veregin “Dom” with me to provide the assistance to publish Veregin Story 2017. This volunteer effort highlights the history of Veregin (Vereeheena) village as it was created by the migration of 3,500 Doukhobors in 1999 to that area. It is being printed now and will be available at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village. All proceeds are for the NDHV as well as sales commissions for the New Horizons in Veregin. I want to thank all of you who donated your generous time and knowledge. There will be something for everybody and may encourage further research and a Book II.

I also was able to write “My Journey Through a Life of Opportunity”, a Christmas gift for my family who requested same. I did not realize until I started writing, all the interesting events that took place in my life, especially my family that started with my partner Marilyn. Thank you all who contributed to this huge effort.

I purchased a Cadpro program and I want to do design and drafting for small projects concentrating on housing. I had been part of the design team behind much of the 600 units of housing that our company had constructed. Perhaps I can provide some quality efficiencies and suggestions to those who may require same. I am not ready to put my legs up and “disappear into the sunset” just yet.

This year I continue with my treatments and I look forward to many years more in this blog but in the interim, Happy New Year!




It was 1972 and Verigin Industries Ltd continued their contracts with the Department of National Revenue (DNR), in construction of various Border Facilities throughout British Columbia and the Yukon.

This incident took place at Pleasant Camp, a border crossing on the BC / Alaska border between Haines Junction, YT and Haines Alaska.

On our reconnaissance trip with Don Muirhead, Facilities Manager with DNR, we arrived at Pleasant camp to meet a feisty lady who was the one and only Border Officer on the Canadians side that was in need of a portable residence set up.

Don showed us where the residence was to go and reminded us that the separate roof structure over the pre-built unit would have to support a 24 feet of snow load. This was in itself an amazing challenge but a job was a job.

Don was in discussion with the female Border Guard who was gesturing and excitedly explaining the plywood all chewed up on the rear porch exit from the Border Station.

“You have to get rid of these horrid animals or I am going to quit this job”, she was very emphatic and serious about her statement.

“They keep gnawing away at night and I cannot sleep. I think they will chew their way right into the Station. I cannot stand this anymore!” and it appeared she was going to cry at any instant now.

“Obviously they are after the glue in the plywood as something they crave” responded Don in a calm voice thinking that he would be able to console this employee of the DNR.

“Covering the landing with rubber will not do it as they will eat tires right off a vehicle” Don was thinking as to what to do.

“My God”, she shrieked, “I am definitely not staying here. Those animals need to be exterminated”, she added.

After some scavenging around the building and separate storage shed, some galvanized sheet metal was discovered and the recommendation was that we clad the landing with this metal as an interim measure until an expanded metal or steel grating could be obtained to replace the wood landing when we came up to erect the residence.

The Border Guard was pacified and we decided to carry on to Haines, Alaska to spend the night. On the way there (about 4o miles of the most twisted highway I had ever seen as it followed a raging mountain stream), Don started to tell us about his apparent faint-hearted female Border Guard.

“This Spring, two Desparados from the lower States, had found their way to Haines and before the local police could do anything to apprehend them, they had rented a car and were off to Pleasant Camp and Canada to escape their convictions in the USA”, Don started the story.

“The authorities called the USA side of the border crossing and advised the Guards there not to apprehend them as they were armed and dangerous and the State Troopers would try and catch up to them. They instructed the US Customs Guards to go over and warn the lone Canadian Guard to do likewise,” Don continued.

“Well these brawny-looking two showed up at the Pleasant Camp Crossing and our Canadian Customs Guard went out to do het customary procedure,” Don went on with his story.

“Where are you from and your passports please,” she requested in her calm normal manner as she stared the duo straight into their eyes.

“They were shocked, I guess and when she was sure that they were not going to cooperate she drew her pistol, which she was assigned because of the remoteness of her Crossing.”

“Get out of the vehicle with your hands up and keep your hands where I can see them”, she just got the drop on them.

As the story unfolded, she kept them covered for four (4) hours until the RCMP were able to arrive from Whitehorse.

“I am not sure why she is afraid of a couple of porcupines”, Don concluded





It was 1983 and I was doing intermittent Project Management work for Brian McMahon who was in charge of the Travel and Industry Subsidiary Agreement (TIDSA), a granting agency for the Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Tourism. This program was to stimulate the Travel Industry and was funded by a partnership of the Federal and Provincial Governments.

Whenever Brian found any of the funded projects were not performing according to an agreed contract schedule, he would access my services and I acted as a Special Project Manager. I would go into a community and investigate what the problems were and report to Brian whether the project would succeed and / or what actions were necessary to make it all happen as per the contract with that Municipality.

I came home, to Castlegar, B.C. from an exhausting business trip, to enjoy my family and I was on the floor playing with my children and enjoying the TGIF day and looking forward to the weekend when the phone rang.

“Elmer, is that you?” and it was Brian on the other end. “What are you doing tomorrow?

“Well I certainly have my share of things to do around the yard as it is fall you know,” I responded.

“You and I are having a meeting in Whitehorse, YT., and tomorrow evening about Port Alberni. You will take the plane out of Castlegar tomorrow and meet the plane to Whitehorse in Vancouver which should reach Whitehorse by 7:00 P.M. I will meet you at the airport,” he advised matter-of-factly like as if he were telling me to sit down for dinner.

“You must be joking” I pleaded. ‘How can we discuss the Port Alberni development in Whitehorse when I don’t even know what it is that we are talking about?”

“Besides there are drawings required and other documents; it is not a practical process, Brian,” I pointed out, hoping he would agree and I could just go back to planning my weekend home with my family.

“The plans and documentation will be on the same plane with you when you get here”, Brian advised.

“There is no way around this as you will need to organize a meeting with the Port Alberni Harbor Front Committee on Monday night. So quit stalling and pack your suitcase,” he ended the telecon.

“What’s going on?” Marilyn looked at me with disbelieving eyes, suspecting that her husband was going away again and the weekend preparations with family were over.

I tried explaining as best that I could but I really had very little to go on except it was obviously a project in Port Alberni, B.C., and that I had to go to Whitehorse Y.T., to get briefed by Brian.

“Elmer, this is ridiculous” she opined and shuffled down the hallway to get started on my suitcase.

“How long do I pack for?” was the next sarcastic remark.

“Probably, Wednesday as I have to be home for a few meetings in Trail,” as I started my thought process as to what this thing at Port Alberni was all about and what I may have to do to get it on track.

Well, Brian was smiling at the Whitehorse Airport as I got into the Terminal, “you travel light, I see”

“Thanks for warning me as to where I would have to go, otherwise I would have packed a tent and camping gear,” I sniped.

“We better remember to pick up the documents at the express baggage” Brian noted. Sure enough there was a small roll labeled HOLD FOR PICKUP and away we went into Whitehorse.

Brian was a very efficient Administrator and had a room already booked for me in the hotel and suggested “I’ll see you in 208 as soon as you get yourself checked in. We will get the orientation over with before we go to eat”.

“That’s all you got” I commented at the one page schematic of the Port Alberni Harbor Front Development that had Hotson Architects title block.

“Well the grant is for $2.8 million and there appears to be some disagreement not only amongst the Committee but also between the Committee and the Architect,” Brian admitted. “The agreement is that the project must be complete and funded by June 30 next year. If they cannot execute, the grant returns to the Tourism Ministry”.

“Hey, Brian, this is October and there are no drawings, unless I am missing something, how do you expect drawing completion, tenders to be called and project completion by June 30? Don’t be ridiculous!” I expounded rather emphatically.

“So why did I have you come up here? You are to meet with this Committee on Monday afternoon and determine what issues they may have and report back to me by Friday with your opinion as to whether this project is salvageable”, Brian just carried on as was his style.

“Is the Committee aware that I am coming?” was my obvious question.

“No! You will make contact with them once you are in Port Alberni” he answered.

“So why don’t we just go there together?” seemed like an obvious suggestion as I groped with an understanding of this impending challenge.

“I will be 200 miles into the hinterland inspecting a fly-in Hunting and Fishing Lodge and then I will be visiting some other potential funding sites and I will not be available for any contact till Friday” and with that Brian announced that he was very hungry and we should go and eat before everything shut down for the night

Brian was a good host and we spent the evening watching a Hypnotist performing his feats on an unsuspecting audience. The next day I left for Vancouver knowing that there was absolutely no way I could contact Brian until Friday when he came out of wilderness.

At 9:00 A.M. Monday, I was in Hotson Architects offices on Howe Street, meeting with a very surprised Hotson who refused to provide me with any additional plans than what Brian already gave me and was even less communicative about the status of the project. He admitted, though, that he was having difficulty determining what the Port Alberni Committee wanted from this project. Hotson Architects were the Architects for the very successful harbor development on Granville Island in Vancouver. We concluded the short meeting with an understanding that he would only release information when he had direction from his client.

“I will be back tomorrow morning” I advised as I left to get on with the rest of my investigative process.

I had never been to Port Alberni and never to Nanaimo which was the local airport on my way to Port Alberni from Vancouver. A rental car and a beautiful drive brought me into unfamiliar surroundings within the City of Port Alberni.

I decided that City Hall was my best bet and asked to speak to the City Manager who sat there in disbelief as I outlined my reasons for being in Port Alberni.

“Do you have anything from Brian McMahon? He wanted to ensure that he had this all straight before he called the R.C.M.P.

“No, but I do have this plan he gave me and his address and label is on it”, as I offered same to him for his inquisitive review.

“You realize that is an extraordinary situation that you describe,” he commented. “I will need to have an emergency meeting with the Committee in order to provide you with any more information as this is entirely beyond my authority.”

“May we meet this afternoon?” I responded. “We don’t have too much time and I need to report to Brian this Friday.”

“I will make the calls to the Committee and see what can be done by 4:00 P.M. this afternoon in the Council Chambers,” he reluctantly advised.

I decided that this was a good time to inspect the site for the project and I was not surprised that it was going to be a challenge to not only complete the project on schedule but to also get the site prepared for this development. It would take a considerable amount of cooperation by everyone and all agencies to get the documents for tender into place. It would take a very organized General Contractor with experience in “tight scheduling” to get all this done by June 30.

What am I getting myself into, I mused?

As I walked into the room and counted at least ten (10) committee members in attendance which I am meeting for the first time, I could not miss noting that there was a great deal of disgust on their faces and a readiness to “Tar and Feather and roll out on a rail” this Dude that hailed from Trail, B.C., that was attempting to deride Port Alberni’s ticket to Tourism.

The meeting opened and they all stared at me as I explained the TIDSA agreement that they were signatory to and the requirements to complete on time and budget. I referred to the clause that permitted the Ministry to employ a “Special Project Manager” should there be any concern and / or doubt that completion may not be met.

“I am He,” I announced.

“So where is Brian McMahon?” was the question from the Mayor.

“I am sure you have already tried calling him and were unsuccessful,” I commented. “He is in the far reaches of the Yukon right now and will return on Friday when he expects me to provide my assessment.

“We don’t have much time,” I added.

There was an interesting man at the end of the table that just glared at me the entire time and I tried to remember who he was from the introductions and I now remembered his card as being the Head of the Harbor Commission.

“This is not going to be easy”, I tried to reassure myself as I presented the false presence of confidence to a very antagonistic group who still could not believe that all this was happening to them.

“Let’s start with Hotson Architects”, I instructed. “You need to tell him what you want in on this project so that he can develop the drawings for tender, immediately”.

“He will not do what we want,” they confided. “We are in disagreement with him and his ideas.”

“You will go over his proposal right now and let him know what your parameters will be,” I made it clear as to how the process would unfold. “I will be in his office tomorrow morning to get an update and a copy of his plans to date.”

“Do we want the “Harbor Quay” to get developed or do we just “cash in” is the question here,” I ended my presentation to the Committee. “Are we ready for the challenge?”


I could feel the daggers being thrown into my back as I left the room and heard the animated discussion pick up.

There were friends in Port Alberni that I knew and I called them up as it was too late to get back to Vancouver. These friends were very much part of the community and it was good to get an appreciation of all the Committee Members and what they represented. This all helped considerably in my understanding of how I could possibly make all this happen.

I dropped into Hotson Architects the next day and it appeared that everyone was going to cooperate and so a meeting was set for the following week in Port Alberni, when Brian could attend as well.

It was that meeting that I noted that the Committee Member from the Harbor Commission seemed to passively study me the entire meeting as the Committee set up a schedule that included approval of drawings and going to tender, etc., the normal project process so that I could recommend to Brian that we were now “on track”.

After the meeting the Harbor Commissioner walked up to me and invited me to see his Harbor operation. I kept wondering how this was to “unfold” but I readily agreed to follow his vehicle down to the Harbor.

I went after him up the stairs and into the Harbor Master’s office. There behind the desk sat a smiling man with an identity plate in front of him that said:



The Harbor Commissioner asked “do you know this man?”

“The only Ken Fertuck that I know was a classmate of mine in Pelly, Saskatchewan” I blubbered, not believing my eyes and twenty-five (25) years made recognition difficult.

“The same”, came the response from the man behind the desk, smiling even more now.

“Well how in the blazes did a kid from the prairies get a job as Harbormaster on the coast,” I questioned.

“Well, I just wrote down on my resume, that I was a Stone-boat Captain in Saskatchewan and they considered that to be all the experience necessary for this job”, as we all laughed uncontrollably.

It is necessary to explain to those of you who are not “Stubble-Jumpers”, that a stone-boat is approximately 6 feet x about 8 or 10 feet long built with 2 inch to 4 inch wood planks laid on two (2) 8 inch x 8 inch wood runners that is pulled behind a team of horses. Its uses on the farm are multiple with following common adaptations:

  • Pick up stones from a field and transport to a dumping area
  • A similar function with roots that are common after clearing new land as they are piled to dry and burn thereafter
  • Manure from “cleaning” a barn to a disposal site usually on an open field for use to fertilize
  • Countless other functions that are common to the operation of a “mixed” farm operation
  • Sometimes for recreational purposes as joyriding over snow

Being a “Captain” of a Stoneboat would be similar to being a “King of the Castle” as children would play. The largest body of water adjacent to Pelly was at best a slough and a larger swamp. Both of these “bodies of water” were used by youths to float a makeshift raft of loosely tied logs and pushed around with a pole in the spring when there was water. Everyone from the Prairies knows that having a nickname of “Stone-boat Captain” is quite similar to being a “Stubble-Jumper”, any such reference would clearly indicate heritage from the Prairie Provinces.

Then the Harbor Commissioner explained how he had returned from that first meeting with some “jerk” called Elmer Verigin from Trail, B.C. that totally insulted the intelligence of the Committee who had worked so hard to get the Harbor Quay Development going and now suggested that he has taking over.

Ken asked him where this Elmer was from as he only knew one Elmer Verigin and he was from Pelly, Saskatchewan. Perhaps this guy should be given a chance to prove himself.

Well we spent a great time after, reminiscing about old times and places and I found out how Ken came right to Port Alberni in 1956 and worked himself to the top by starting from the bottom “on the docks.”

The epilogue is that Ken still lives in Port Alberni to this day but unfortunately, he had a stroke and I understand that he is dealing with a handicap quite well. The project did get completed by June 30 as required with a surplus budget that was utilized for other purposes on the Harbor Front Project. The designs by Hotson Architects were in keeping with their creative ability on Granville Island in Vancouver. The Contractors outdid themselves in quality and performance. My on site Clerk of Works was a God send that ensured quality control. The Committee was an excellent group to work with.

The breakfasts in that tiny Diner near the waterfront are still a mouth-watering memory that will be hard to forget.

My purpose was successfully exercised in Port Alberni.

Brian McMahon and I made contact from time to time, later, and he was able to secure $1.3 million in establishing the Doukhobor Village in Castlegar B.C. as a destination point tourist attraction when disagreement of local politicians forced the funding to move elsewhere. That will be the subject of another story.


Posted by EWV November o7, 2017 from EWV Archived Files for use in his Adventures Story being composed for his family