Whatshan End of Summer Music Festival September 29, 2018

Just thought I should post my reflections on this event last weekend.

The Society Rental Coordinator, Nona Kucher, Jim Laktin, President and myself, Elmer Verigin, Past President of the Doukhobor Heritage Society #1999, attended a local event at the Whatshan Lake Retreat.

It was billed, as the “last weekend of summer music festival” but it was more than that, it was a successful local entertainment event. It was a great pleasure meeting friends from the past and new faces that I had the opportunity to meet for the first time. Smiles by everyone and some great concession stands with great food. I do hope that some of these with consider future events including the Whatshan Jam in the second weekend of July 2019. Yes, 2019 will be a twenty (20) year celebration of when the project was dedicated to society in July of 1999.

Many of the Musicians were part of a local group that would prepare “pot luck” entrees in 1998 and 1999, and come to the Retreat building under construction and to lift the spirits of the volunteers who were building at that time. There amongst the piles of drywall, insulation and tools, we ate and then the music would start. I recall “Banjo” singing up a storm with his rendition of “Seven Spanish Angels” with a definitive Hank Snow twang. Bill Penner and many more would round off the spontaneous program.

They all never really understood what encouragement it was to those who had travelled from far on that building program. Kudus to all of you!

Many local entertainers made the day and evening enjoyable with donations to the Edgewood Fire Department. I was especially impressed with the volunteers who prepared the Pancake Breakfast. Definitely, very professional and those would missed it are forever handicapped (healthwise, I mean).

Thank you very much to Dean and Patti Taylor who did much to organize this event and the Society is very appreciative of your efforts far and beyond your Care-Taking duties at the Retreat.

Note that Rodeo, Taylor’s ‘watch dog’ made friends with Nona right away and was much relaxed by the music.

It was great to see Bob on stage and happy to see his healthy face. Thank you also, to Bill Penner, our first Care-Taker and long time volunteer, to come and say hello.

Bob Baker brought the Gingersnap Lady out and I was disappointed that she didn’t bring a bag of ‘snaps’ out. I am sure that Larry noticed that too! Yes Bob, the bunkbeds that Bill and you constructed and donated to Cabins 6 through 8 inclusive, are still performing as they were intended. Thank you very much!

A lot of hugs with Karen and Judy (I hope Bill and Orville understand). They say what happens in Whatshan stays in Whatshan but at Whatshan people are old-fashioned with their appreciation of each other and we do not need CNN to dictate what we can do in normal lives.

I understand that I missed a great dance and music within the Retreat on Saturday Night. Please understand that my “candle does not burn as long as it used to”!

Then perhaps, the Baunya steam bath with Jim may have compromised my stamina. The report that Jim gave us was that it was a great event and well attended.

I look forward to this fund raiser taking place next year and I hope that it was as financially successful as it was socially.

Thank you all!


October 01, 2018



Delivered at Whatshan Lake Retreat 1100 Hours, Saturday, September 22, 2018 by Elmer Verigin

I was sulking in my construction trailer at Elkford B.C., that late August day in 1973 when I heard a gentle knock on the door. Not expecting anyone as I had just arrived from Cranbrook with devastating news from the Federal Business Development Bank, that I had loan approval for $700,000 to build a Shopping Center and Hotel for a budget that needed a minimum of $850,000.

I opened the door, not knowing what to expect and hoping that whoever was there would not notice that I had been crying. Yes grown men do cry!

“My name is Larry”, the slightly built man introduced himself. “I heard that you are planning on a major construction project here and I want to be part of it!”

“Well I had planned on doing that but my financing is not even 75% of my needs so I think I am folding my tent, so to speak, and leaving town,” I thought I might as well be honest.

“Well you have not received our price on steel studs, insulation, drywall, T-Bar ceilings and stucco so how can you make such a decision,” obviously this man was not going to be brushed off too easily,

The story that followed became a Verigin and Sapriken Brothers commercial association that lasted many years and survived many projects where the two families, blessed with top of the line Tradesmen performed at the peak of their capabilities. What was thought to be a failed project, developed into an apartment being added to the original hotel and shopping center, that required eight (8) truckloads of drywall and completed in the Spring of 1974.

Later, this included projects throughout the Kootenays and a major school for the First Nations in Nelson House Manitoba.

Figure 1 Edna Sapriken

                                   Figure 2 LARRY SAPRIKEN

When Larry and Edna moved to Slocan Park, B.C., with their young family of two daughters and two sons, they became members of the Doukhobor Cultural Association (DCA). In Figure 1 Edna smiles at us and in Figure 2 Larry is contemplating his next move at one of the DCA Socials. DCA photos have since been censored!


Larry was always ready to participate and be “part of the crowd”. At DCA Socials, he would bring out his humour and we now see him participate in a fashion show and was caught in a dress of all things. Larry had great legs and we could say very “leggy” and hard to tell him apart from the females in the line up as in Figure 3

Figure 4 Marilyn Verigin, Bill Voykin, Elmer Verigin, LARRY SAPRIKEN and Lawrence Popoff               .

In 1981, the DCA decided to purchase 204 acres at Whatshan lake, near Edgewood, B.C. Larry and Edna willingly committed themselves to be part of a loan of $150,000 with twelve other DCA couples. The Demoskoffs spear-headed a selective logging initiative to repay the loan. Later in 1995, 50% of the DCA decided to form the Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 (DHRS #1999). Larry was on site with part of the group in Figure 4, discussing the project and just how it would be orientated. It was decided to build a Retreat that would be available to anyone who had need to use same for peaceful purposes.

Figure 5 LARRY SAPRIKEN and Walter Demoskoff

Construction started with a typical Whatshan Redi-mix concrete operation with donated cement and Doukhobor muscle and sweat as shown here with Larry and Walter mixing concrete for the Retreat foundations in Figure 5. There were many volunteers who came from the DHRS #1999. Volunteers drove their own vehicles, brought their own food. Volunteers cooked the food and we all ate communally. It was quite an experience and perhaps the traditional Doukhobor ways were being relived by those who participated.


Here is Larry clowning in Figure 6 with formwork just removed from the foundation in 1996.

We learned to put a bit a humour into our work so we could look forward to the challenges ahead of us. We also made sure that we enjoyed the evenings.


Larry loved his coffee (when there was no beer) and enjoyed having breaks as often as that was possible. In Figure 7, he is in his familiar pose, legs crossed and coffee in his right hand. It is obvious he just arrived as his favorite hat is still on and he has not removed his jacket yet.

Figure 8 Elmer Verigin and LARRY SAPRIKEN

A temporary kitchen was constructed just to the left of the existing BCH power transformer where a wood stove provided the kitchen base. It was never known whether two (2) volunteers would show or at times, there were thirty-five (35). Somehow the lady volunteers would gather the food that came with the volunteers and would create a feast enjoyed by all. Here in Figure 8, Larry is enjoying a break with beer in hand with a background of burning brush from the clearing just completed for the septic tank, field and Stage.

Figure 9 LARRY was here!

The Whatshan Kitchen was equipped with pots and pans and here was even a mirror for the ladies to check whether their hair was done right. Larry again showed humour by hanging a heart with his name just above the mirror in Figure 9.

Figure 10 LARRY with Lawrence Popoff

The men also cooked. Here Lawrence Popoff and Larry pitch in and help out in their speciality dishes. The ladies did not seem to mind and gladly moved over to let the guys do their thing. Obviously Larry is very serious about what he is about to prepare as he wields his knife in Figure 10. Nothing was ever thrown out as there were too many hungry customers. There was always more food brought than we were able to consume.


Not always was there enough light as there was no electricity till 1999. So Larry is sitting here using a flashlight to follow instructions of some sort in Figure 11. Could it be his secret menu?

There were all forms of accommodation including pickup trucks, truck campers. tent trailers and Recreational Vehicles as noted in Figure 12. Yes, Lawrence and Larry were taking a break from the hard work.

Figure 12 LARRY SAPRIKEN with Larry Popoff

Trees were sawn into timbers and trusses for the Retreat Center were designed and constructed. These eight (8) supporting roof members required steel gusset plates on either side of the center truss chord. This meant that a 1 1/2 horse power drill was needed to predrill for the 1,350 bolts that were required to assemble them all. Larry would light a cigarette and start drilling which took a few minutes.


Unfortunately (as in Figure 13), the holes in the second steel plates were not aligned and the drill bit would grab that and jar Larry awake. The ashes would fall off his cigarette and Larry’s cap would fall off. there were always a few words that were uttered that were not always understood. Depending on the time of the day, they could be in either Russian or English or a combination of both.


               Figure 14 A Larry                                          Figure 14 LARRY SAPRIKEN

Larry was there when the first structural component was raised above the Retreat Foundation. Here Larry was busy securing the anchor bolts after which he gace the post a big hug.  Larry’s specialty was drywall. in Figure 14, he demonstrates how a round post (his love) can be fire-proofed.


Larry is on the scaffold finishing the ceilings in the Retreat Center in Figure 15. There were many pails of mud mixed and joints to be sanded.

His special project was the Bandshell that was designed by the Acoustics Specialist, Anton Neidersteiner. every detail was followed with the expertise Larry learned at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.

Figure 16 Fred Chursinoff and LARRY SAPRIKEN

Larry is on the Retreat Roof in Figure 16, completing the fireplace chimney cap with Fred Chursinoff.

There were very few jobs that Larry did not participate in to complete the project.

Figure 17 Lawrence Popoff, Fred Chursinoff, Elmer Verigin, LARRY SAPRIKEN, Walter Demoskoff and Bill Voykin

This assembly of the regular crew that was responsible for much of the construction at Whatshan is shown in figure 17. What was amazing and very heartwarming to see all these people just present themselves to get the job done. There was no complaints that someone was not doing their share. They just pitched in and did it.

Larry was one of those that started doing a job and those who were looking for something to do were welcomed to join him.

Larry was “part of the gang”, you might say, and enjoyed that role.

Some of the missing men in this photo were Alex Markin, Russel Verigin, Lawrence Verigin, Lawrence Tamelin and Philip Konkin.

Many times I heard the comments from the Volunteers “if had to die at sometime, then I would prefer that took place at Whatshan Lake Retreat. At the time of this writing (September 14, 2018), the following have passed on from the photo : Larry Sapriken, Walter Demoskoff as well the missing men from the photo.

Figure 18 Ann Zibin, Russel Verigin, LARRY SAPRIKEN and Lawrence Popoff

The Retreat Center was in the finishing stage, with the kitchen in place. Visitors come to inspect and complete deficiencies as in Figure 18.. Again, Larry is clowning around.

At one time a question was asked “why are we doing this?”

The best answer was “why not?”

There was a story about this Philosophy Professor who set a final examination for his class.

The class prepared the best they could and arrived at the appointed date and time.

The examination was passed out with one question on the full page: “Why”?

The students started feverishly writing long essays to try and capture the intent of the Professor and provide their answer. One student completed the three (3) hour paper in fifteen minutes and handed it in.

The other students thought that this looked like a failing student. His was an “A” mark, in the opinion of his Professor, as he wrote “Why Not?”

Perhaps that is the story on Whatshan as that was Larry’s philosophy that was accepted by those who participated with him.

Fifteen (15) Carpenter Apprentices from J. Lloyd Crowe High School demonstrate their appreciation of Larry and the special Carpentry “Tricks” that he had showed them. They built this “special CANTINA” for Larry.

Figure 19 Lawrence Popoff

Lawrence Popoff sits there with a sad look on his face in Figure 19. “So why was I just a Tin Basher and not a Carpenter as I could had this built for me instead of Larry.”

We spent many hours with Larry, exchanging philosophical views on life in general. He expressed a wish that his family would learn to love Whatshan Lake Retreat as he did. Many of us in the DHRS #1999, obviously felt the same. Today I see Larry’s family here and his dream has become a reality. Nobody should try to predict the future but who knows where it will take us.

Here are some humorous stories that took place at Whatshan.

In the evenings, a bonfire would be built as there never was a shortage of wood. At this fire some liquid spirits would be consumed and various debates would be argued. One such debate was whether the North Star moved across the sky.

To prove Russel Verigin’s opinion, that the North Star was stationary, a four (4) foot 1 x 2 was nailed to a tree and carefully pointed at the North Star. Everyone could align themselves along the 1 x 2 and the pointed end was fully directed at the North Star. No matter when anyone looked, the result was the same, they saw the North Star.

A few days later, another bonfire needed stoking to encourage a flame and so Fred Chursinoff ripped the 1 x 2 from the tree and stoked the fire. Larry became infuriated and wrestled the 1 x 2 from Fred and immediately aligned it back on the tree so that the Whatshan Astronomy lesson could stay intact.

The end that Larry used to align the 1 x 2 had soot on it and so Larry’s eye was blackened. Of course everyone could see that as he returned to the now burning bonfire and started laughing. Only Larry did not laugh as he could not understand the joke.

The empathy that Larry imparted around him was especially understood by the animals. We watched as Larry patiently befriended a few Chipmunks. When he moved to Campsite 6, the Chipmunks seemed to follow him. On many occasions we would find a Chipmunk eating a peanut on Larry’s knee. To this day, there is a sign posted on the tree “Slow Chipmunks Crossing.”

One day Larry invited me to have Bean Soup with him at his Camper. I am not fond of Bean Soup and I waved my hand only to have the invitation repeated more seriously. “Elmer, this is my special recipe”, he called out.

Not to offend Larry, I finally settled down to a bowl. Well I ended up having two (2) helpings. “Where, did you learn to make this soup?” I asked, “it is the most delicious I have ever tasted!”

“Aggazzi”, was his response. Larry and spent many hours, with me, when he shared his experiences from the controversial incarceration time in his life. What was most educational to me was that he never once complained about it but just accepted it as part of the Journey of his Life.

This has been a lengthy story about Larry but so it has been a long time that I knew him. There is no question that I can sum it all up by saying that “I knew a great Soul”!

They say in the Rotary Club “that we are all sent here to Earth and rented a space, check from time to time that your rent is paid.”

Larry’s rent has a credit in his audit!

If we listen carefully, to the rustling leaves, we will hear Larry. If we feel the soft touch of the wind on our faces, it will only be Larry whose presence at Whatshan Lake Retreat is eternal.

Elmer Verigin

September 14, 2018

Credit is hereby noted to Lawrence Popoff who was the perennial and faithful photographer of the DCA and DHRS #1999 projects and socials. Thank you Lawrence. Thank you alos to Marilyn Verigin for editing

On September 13, 2018 I forwarded a draft of this Writing to Lisa Poznikoff, daughter of Larry for comment so that I could post it in my blog. I have her approval to do so.

On September15, 2018. Lisa advised that she had read this story to her mother, Edna, and she liked it.

On September 19, 2018, the pictures were substituted for JPEG to insert into my Blog. Other pictures were added along with comments


July has been historically, a travelling and visiting month for us. This year as with the last 19 years, we took in the celebrations at Whatshan Jam (July 8-10) where our entire family was present that included all four children and their spouses and nine grandchildren with their respective significant others. Our Pro Golfer grandson was on tour and could not attend.

2018 Whatshan Jam photos:


Our three great grandsons managed to be dancing front and center by the stage

Yes they were dancing there until their parents pulled them away so that they would not be trampled.

There were over 400 people in attendance, the largest crowd yet!

We returned home to repack, take in doctor’s appointments and were able to leave at noon July 11, 2018 for Benito, Manitoba on our 54th trip through the prairies.

About Cranbrook, I checked my cell phone and noted four missed calls from Jim Laktin. Thinking something, serious was taking place from the newly elected President of the the Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 (Whatshan Lake Retreat), I decided to call. All he wanted to know was when we were passing through Lethbridge that day as he was in the area delivering 13,000 pounds of cherries to the Hutterite communities. We were destined for Medicine Hat as our half point to Benito, but friendship is precious and we decided to see the new truck that Jim had purchased and this was his first run. Here is Jim and his truck in his new venture as he readies for his franchise marketing Hutterite Chickens for all of British Columbia from  the High River Colony.

Jim was unable to attend the Whatshan Jam as he was qualifying for his “Air Ticket” so he could drive this truck. It was great hearing all about his new venture and bringing him up to date on Whatshan Lake Retreat. Of course it took a “few” Scotches to get the entire story out.

We parted the next morning and arrived in Benito (of course for dinner) to sister Mary Khadekin’s house, a little late but the hospitality was all the same. We enjoyed visiting with nephew Kenneth who drove down from Swan River. We were updated on the challenging integrated high school system which is always interesting. His dog Shane would first shove a ball under the chesterfield and then crawl under to get it out. Wish I had him to help me eradicate the Voles in my garden!

After a day’s rest we were invited to spend time with friends Mitch and Dorthy Ozeroff and Sonia Tarasoff at Yorkton Saturday night. There are no handicapped hotel rooms near Veregin to accommodate Mitch’s needs and so we were eager to spend time with these dear long friends and get caught up on all those important Doukhobour matters and of course the laughter about old times when Keith was still part of our close-knit gang.

On Sunday we attended Moleniya at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village at 0930 hours. It is always a spiritual experience as the building erupted with Doukhobor hymn singing again as it has since 1917.

The famous Blini brunch followed with all the toppings. Mouth watering still! Then an entertainment session followed the break with a “Saskatchewan” Choir that was augmented with three singers from British Columbia. It was nice to sing together in the spirit of Heritage Day.

Part of the entertainment in the afternoon was provided by “professional” Comedians, Nadia Rebin on the left as ‘Matrusha’ and Gloria Stushnoff on the right as ‘Trunia’ (they keep changing their pseudo names for security) with their incredible Russian and Ukrainian accents as they discussed world events and those everyday issues that house wives have to deal with.

They then picked on me for a bit before making a surprise commeneration of ’54th trips to Saskatchewan’ mandelions created by Sonia Tarasoff.

We then boarded a bus that started a tour of the early 1900s, 57 communal villages, including the original center of the Doukhobour Communities, Otradniya. The narration was provided by historian Jonathan Kalmakoff who listed the original family names in each village and an account of the animal and material assets that they accumulated along with the lands cultivated on the virgin lands from occupancy to a date a few years later. Very well done!

We also toured some of the cemeteries with the original Tolstoy near Otradniya Village. These two ladies from British Columbia were on the tour

Liz Poznikoff, Curator Doukhobor Discovery Center in Castlegar and Natasha Jmaiff, Translator Doukhobor Pslams, posed at the well kept cemetery.

Just South of Tolstoy and between the Otradniya Village is an unmarked burial place of Peter Verigin (Hospoidnee) mother as well as the well respected Elder Dedushka Mahortoff. It was in the middle of a farmer’s crop and we did not feel appropriate to trample the crop to get access to it.

We then went to the Nadozda Cemtery when the Doukhobor hero, Metvei Lebedev is buried. We sang part of Speetya Orlee Bayaweya as a tribute to the one who led a group of young soldiers to fix their bayonets and stick into the parade ground That Easter in 1895 at a military outpost, declaring that they objective to any act of war against their fellow men and could serve the Russian Army no more. We closed our eyes and could almost hear clearly, the account of that event by Dr. Fred Strukoff in 2005 as he described the scene and the obvious fear in those courageous young men who knew the result of their action, would be lashes that would be their penalty for daring to disobey the Czar.

This event precipitated the Burning of Arms in 1895 and the eventual migration to Canada by the Doukhobors in 1899 from religious persecution in Russian (now Georgia).

Later, we attended a Shishliki Feast at my cousin Peter Verigin’s original farm, a 1/2 mile West of the Tolstoy School Community Center. We were delighted to have my nephew, Tim, the host, his son Tanner (now works at a bank in Norway), Barb Trofemenkoff, (wife of Randy (nephew), who was unfortunately on a fishing trip), Dan (nephew) and Adeline Horcoff, Jason (nephew) and Marcella Morozov. Barry and Nadia Rebin, Gary (nephew) and Lorna Trofemenkoff and a couple (I cannot remember their names), Jack Chernoff, my sister Mary Khadekin and son Kenneth with Marilyn and I. It was a typical Feast with much baking and specialities only available in Saskatchewan.

I am still upset that I never took a picture of this gathering as it would have been a treasure. I must have started imbibing too early?

We decided to go visiting the next day (Monday) and see whoever we could. I wanted to see my old friend and University friend, Dr. Bill Chernoff but he was back in Fredricton attending to some health issues and would be back the following Sunday. Jack, his brother and Bill (after retiring as University Professors) farm their the original grandfather’s homestead along with additional farms purchased since. They talk about setting up a heritage farm for tourism as they still have one farm that has never been cultivated and remains in its original state. Too bad I was unable to see Bill!

We were able to find a number of people at the New Horizons having coffee at 0800 hours. I recognized some and will mention, Ken Bloudoff, __?__ Kazakoff, Sid Relkoff and his workman, Barry and Nadia Rebin and others. A very cheerful and enthusiastic bunch that have raised funds to totally renovate the New Horizons Center including kitchen and adjacent hall. They raise money by making and selling pergies as well as apply for grants. Very well done!

We continued in Veregin, to the home of Gary and Lorna Trofemenkoff and were well received at their house in Veregin

That is Gary on the left with Lorna, Marilyn and sister Mary Khadekin. In some of the discussions, we heard that their daughter is now a graduate Chemical Engineer and their son has been doing some research into their family history which includes the first Business Manager and Vice-President of the Doukhobor Community Office in Veregin, M. W. Kazakoff (MWK). It was interesting that I had a brief mention of this person in Veregin Story 2017 but as parts of the research now being undertaken, we were told that MWK heard that the City of Boston was considering construction of large Storm and Sanitary Sewers in the early 1900’s. MWK travelled to Boston, was able to demonstrate to the City Crews, sewer construction with bricks manufactured at the Veregin Brick Factory. He ultimately was able to sell many carloads of brick which financially assisted the fledgling Doukhobor community. An incredible story indeed!.

We then travelled to the Kamsack Lodge to visit with my first cousin Florence (nee Verigin) Tromfemenkoff, the mother of Gary, Randy, Wayne and Sidney.

Florence is next to Mary from the right with sister Mary and myself. She just wants to go home to the farm that Michael and her took over from his parents John Trofemenkoff. Unfortunately, living alone in her aging condition is not safe for her and so her children moved her into the Lodge. Much of her conversation was “I just do not like it here!”

We passed a neighboring room and had a voice shout “Elmer” and there he was Cliff Paluck visiting his cousin Allan who also resides in this seniors home.

We drove around the main street of Kamsack and this building caught my eye as my Son-in-law Rick Woodhoues (nicknamed ‘Woody’) and my daughter Lori just sold their house and I thought I would send the family this photo, suggesting that perhaps Rick has invested his wealth in Kamsack now??

We drove to the farm of Dan and Adeline Horkoff but they were away and we missed them. So we stopped by the Ice Cream Center in Kamsack for our usual craving.

The next morning we met Peter and Lydia Cherkas at the Prairie Bakery in Kamsack for coffee. We were treated by a discussion with Gerald Bennike, a retired School Teacher and author of the Promised Land. This is a very interesting book, as he intertwines his mother’s Makoroff family (starting at Irkust, Siberia) and his Mennoite father originating in the USA and migrating to Veregin. A worthwhile read.

We reluctantly left at 1000 hours with a destination of the First Klass Auctions on Whitney Avenue, Saskatoon, an operation by Marilyn’s Nephew Jeff, Tracey and family.


Marilyn’s cousins Elaine (nee Maloff) Derkachenko and Donna (nee Maloff) Henderson joined us at the auction while the next photo shows Jeff Verishine keeping tabs on the sales. Yes, Marilyn bought some ‘Depression Glass’.

We followed Jeff and Tracey to their new house on the farm that Alex and Helen Verishine IMarilyn’s father and mother) farmed into retirement about 40 miles NE of Saskatoon.


Firstly, the sunrise as witnessed at the farm. It starts an hour before the sun peeks over the horizon. It is little wonder that the Indians always orientated their dwellings so the entry door faced the rising sun. Sun-rises in British Columbia are compromised as it usually has mountains on either side of it.

The barn on this farm is where I followed my future father-in-law, Alex J. Verishine, as I got enough courage to ask him for his daughter Marilyn’s hand back in April 1961. He looked at me with a smile and suggested that something this important ne4eds to be discussed in the house. So off we went and after a great deal of hugging and some tears, the traditional deal was struck. As I recall, Alex never did say yes but he did not say no and so it became a reality that Marilyn and I were to be married officially at some date to be determined.

That day, Thursday, we were to meet Mitch Ozeroff at huge Ag Fair about 8 miles West of Langham. We also had set up a meeting with my cousin Nadia (nee Chernoff) and her husband Bruce Stevenson at the fair when we found out that they were travelling from Birch Hills and thus save us a side trip to visit them on their farm. What did happen is that Mitch was unable to attend and after many calls on our cell phones we finally connected with Bruce and Nadia. I never realized how huge this yearly event was until we arrived and saw all the parking for the expected 30,000 plus attendants.


Firstly we have Bruce and Nadia and then we inspected a Swather that is 40′ wide and that is just a sample of what equipment was un display.

We were able to meet Nadia’s daughter and son as well as one of their grandsons. A very enjoyable reunion and a great deal of life to catch up on.

The Ag Fair was of little interest to Marilyn and I and Bruce wanted to see all the displays so we parted company in the early afternoon and went to visit the grave sites of Maryilyn’s grandparents, John and Martha Verishine at the Doukhobor cemetery, Kirilowka near the original Doukhobor Village, about 7 miles West of Langham along Highway 5. We then carried on to Pawkrowka cemetery where Marilyn’s Dad and Mom are buried. This cemetery was near Eagle Creek, in view of the North Saskatchewan River. This cemetery was near the second Doukhobor Village of the same name. There were three (3) Doukhobor Villages, total, near Langham Saskatchewan. I sang my Postman song in Russian to their spirits.

We then decided to see if Marilyn’s cousin Leonard and his wife Connie Verishine might be home since they were located 1 mile West and 1/2 mile North of Jeff and Tracey Verishine farm (the original Alex Verishine homestead). Yes they were home and we had a great time catching up on where they were in their lives. It was exciting to hear that their son and one time professional Rodeo Bronc Rider, Billy, got married in Australia and they proudly showed pictures of their young grand daughter. Connie and her daughter Dawn Marie are preparing to travel to Australia in November to visit the family.

Leonard is a retired government pasture manager and still tends 200 of his own cattle on his farm. We planned to return for a dinner later in the week, but eventually ran out of time.

We returned to Jeff and Tracie’s farm for the night and were treated to a great dinner with their son Alex entertaining us with his plans to enter University of Saskatchewan to take Arts and Science in his intent to ultimately get into Engineering. Alex has trained himself to be an Auctioneer and takes his shift at First Klass Auctions.

The next day Jeff talked about his plans to make his grandfather’s farm into a place where all family would come and rekindle the “people place” that it once was. He is planting many trees of all species and trying to stay ahead of the deer who keep pruning them.

That afternoon we went across the road to Jade (Marilyn’s Nephew) and Marni Verishine farm for an afternoon visit. They had invited Marilyn’s cousin Harvey and his wife Diane Verishine. It was an excellent afternoon many memories were discussed as Jade and Marnie’s son Jacob barb-b-cued hot dogs for us.

We then moved to Mitch and Dorthy’s house in Langham. our welcome was a huge dinner with Sonia Tarasoff in attendance. It is always great to experience the positive attitude of Mitch as he deals with his physical handicaps and continues to ring off a sense of humour that never changes with the years. kudu to you Mitch and three (3) extra Kudus to Dorthy in trying to handle being a full time Care-giver.

The next day Marilyn and I visited the house of her Uncle Harry Verishine to have lunch with her Aunty, Cousin Kathleen and Harvey who treated us with another visit. It is important to mention here that the lands in Langham were less of a grain production quality and many Farmers turned to cattle raising as grass was really the best crop and the cattle raised on this land was marketed to provide an income. As a result, Marilyn’s Father, Harvey and his brother Leonard, successfully raised cattle and became horsemen. They could ride, rope and brand their animals.

Land that was assessed as “marginal” was designated as government pasture so that Farmers could place their cattle in this pasture for the summer. All three (3) of the above managed pastures for the government. At this time Leonard still raises 200 head and Harvey 400. Both have retired from the Pasture Manager positions.

At a Verishine reunion, Harvey and Leonard relented to much coaxing and put on a demonstration how they chase a young calf, rope it and trip it over as their horse keeps the tension in the rope, in preparation for branding.

Katheen shared some of the photographs of Harvey in full cowboy dress and some photos of his cattle for your enjoyment.


Yes I am proud of Marilyn’s family as I need to get photos of father and his horse, Leonard as well as his son Billy in full action as a professional Bronc Rider. I intend to gather all this into a story about the family.

as Jonathan Kalamkoff notes in his Doukhobor Genealogy, our Doukhobor ancestors raised cattle in the Molichniyee Vodee area of Ukraine before continuing on in Georgia in 1842, so it was logical for the Doukhobors in Langham to find this economical.

That evening, we called a few friends in Saskatoon to see if anyone would be available for a dinner in Saskatoon as it was obvious that we could not get to see everyone otherwise. Cooperate they did as this is part of our original Saskatoon Doukhobor Youth (at one time) Choir:

From left to right starting with Dorthy (Soukoroff) and Mitch Ozeroff, Elmer, Betty (Shiskin) Kabatoff, Ruth (Tarasoff) and John Sirota,Olga (Perveresoff) Epp, Marilyn, Donna (Tarsoff) Hunchak, Edna Wright

Yes it took a full three (3) hours to have our dinner but we had no problem digesting it with the laughter. Actually we saw the faces of ourselves as we were 1958 through 1963. What a nice time!

We took a leisurely exit from Ozeroffs and moved our wagon over to Alex and Elaine Derkachenko house in Saskatoon. Marilyn and I served as Bridesmaid and Best Man at their wedding in 1961 a few months before ours. It is always nice as Alex and I became “brothers” over the years with Alex never having a brother and I have since had my brothers depart. In many ways Alex seems to have very similar views on life and he even fries his potatoes the same way that I prefer. That is a very important brotherhood!

Donna and Larry Henderson dropped by and we had a great visit as a group. Larry is recovering from a minor stroke. A very nice dinner catered by Alex (he is an excellent cook), followed.

The next morning Alex treated me to his favorite Car Wash. My Focus was never treated that well! I also found an optical place where the sweet young lady took my glasses and final straightened the frame out so that I did not appear “cock-eyed”. Stupid glasses cannot handle me sitting on them but after a 1/2 hour she returned with a smile and said “no charge”. The Saskatchewan hospitality is always well appreciated.

That evening  we were invited to the new duplex that her son Glen built for her upon her move from the farm in Canora, a few years ago. We met Glen’s partner that works for a Uranium Mining Company and Dr. Veronica Markova. We had a great Dinner and discussed Ryan Androsoff’s work to preserve Doukhobor traditions and Moleniya. Interesting and we all encourage Ryan to do the right thing.

We were ready to leave when Veronica suggested we sing a few Russian songs. I was impressed at what that small party of four could do. Veronica briefed us on her continuing research in linguistics  and the manner in which the “Doukhobor” Russian has changed in the 118 years in Canada. We wish her well in het research.

The next morning it was a tearful departure from Derkatchenkos and we travelled to Lethbridge as an overnight and then home to Castlegar the next day.

Thanks to all our friends and relatives that we were able to see and those we missed, we apologize as there never seems to be enough time.

Yes we returned to a full blown birthday party for our daughterat the Colander in Trail, B.C, that night. We that is our life with Marilyn.

Completed August 14, 2014 by Elmer Verigin


A Personal Business Announcement, May 19, 2018

That is Elmer Verigin with his new monitor, looking at his program CadPro

I recently came to the conclusion that retirement is much to stressful. When a body is used to action 105% of the time, leisure becomes too difficult to adjust to.

Yes I know that we all need breaks and I do that but soon I become irritable and difficult to live with (so Marilyn admits now).

My back has been seriously compromised over the years and my step not as high as it used to be.

I saw this ad for CadPro, a computer drafting program. I had look at CADD previously but the earlier programs were too challenging and required Plotters, etc., rendering them applicable only to serious Engineering and Architectural firms.

So I investigated and now am reasonably adept at developing drawings which I used to do with old fashioned drafting boards, parallel arms, etc., and was not as exciting but just work.

My family was quick to offer projects:

  • Daughter Nona – interior renovations of her house
  • Daughter Lori and Rick – New detached garage for their new housr
  • Daughter Tamara and Kyle – interior house renovations.

The practice was good but it was a tough battle uphill to associate all the icons with an application to achieve what I knew was the intended results. Progress was very promising.

I also remember in my earlier years with Verigin Industries Limited (ViL), being the “design department” and met many clients that needed a custom house or a renovation. I enjoyed meeting these people and translating their dreams to reality. I also found that I could easily suggest changes that would render their plans much more economic. In many instances, the result was that they saved more money than what they paid for their plans. In most instances, ViL became the General Contractior.

That progressed to the design and development of:

  • 98 unit Townhouses at Glenmerry Village, Trail, B.C.
  • Dental Building, Grand Forks, B.C.
  • Various subdivisions
  • and much more

So my mind is still active, why not apply this to the plans of people who need this guidance??

So I printed some business cards and named my new enterprise:


(250) 608 2215 cell


Posted Elmer Verigin, May 20, 2018

Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 Retiring President’s Report May 21, 2018

This is the President’s Report to be delivered at the AGM Monday, May 21, 2018 at the Doukhobor Discovery Center, Castlegar, B.C.

I served as President of the former Doukhobor Heritage Retreat from 1981 through 1999. There were a few years, during the time of Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999, that several Directors undertook this elected position. Now that I am voluntarily stepping down, I can vouch that the position is very challenging. I wish Jim Laktin, as incoming president, all the good wishes that can be provided.

In the end, it is the Directors and the members that require their entire commitment to ensure that this Society to continue as a success.

We can take brief snap shots at our successful history:

  • Financial contribution from fifteen families in the Doukhobor Cultural Association (DCA) in 1980 to support a loan of $150,000 to pay for the two parcels of land now owned by the DHRS #1999
  • The orderly process to selectively log the large parcel that retired the loan completely
  • The founding of Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society (DHRS) in the early 1990s by a portion of the early DCA and supporting individuals to conceive the concept of a Retreat
  • The cash contribution of 7 members to pay the $1,400 Building Permit fee for the Retreat Building
  • The contribution by the DCA of 3 loads of logs to initiate the cash for start up funding
  • The long list of Donators of materials, equipment and labor to build the Retreat Building
  • The entry of Allan Markin and his contribution of $1 million (and subsequent donations) to establish the basis for the current Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 (DHRS #1999) in 1999
  • The approval of charitable tax status by the CRA in 1999
  • The continuing process of construction that followed in this order:
    • Start Retreat Building in 1995 and completion in 1999
    • Cabins 1 through 5 inclusive along with the Whispering Pines Center in 2003
    • The Volunteer Campsites in 2003
    • Cabins 6 through 8 inclusive and the stage in 2004
    • The Care-Taker / Office building in 2005
    • Wells #4 and #5 and water distribution system in 2006
    • Well #6 and the Fire Suppression System in 2014

All this was achieved by exceptional cooperation of all Funders and Volunteers who had a vision that attracted their attention. I am proud to have been associated with all this these 46 years!

As I look around this room, I see some of you who have been with me all this time. There are many more who are here in sprit only but continue to support from where they are.

If I begin to thank each of you individually, I would miss one or more of you. You were all fundamental to the success. Yes, we had fun as we worked. The saying that “whatever happens in Whatshan stays in Whatsan” is our secret. Those who want to know, will need to find out for yourselves when you able.

As the Founders age, we are being supported by enthusiastic Supporters. We can now support paid staff that was once all volunteer but today is impossible to achieve that way. I want to congratulate:

  • Nona Kucher, our Rental Coordinator and Caretaker Contact
  • Tamara Verigin-Burk, our CEO

The day to day operations are continuing to become “business as usual” and do not require emergency trips to Whatshan by the President to resolve site issues.

The financial statements show that all bills are being paid with a reserve funding at this time. This is a vast difference from when the project was started and there was no money for a keg of nails. The principle and policy is that there will not be an mortgages nor debts created for the DHRS #1999.

What is in the future? The CEO and RC will report what is taking place and some of the objectives for the future include:

  1. Refund the Markin invested funds in the Vancouver Foundation ($180,000) which is underway
  2. Use this funding to initiate the Society entry into Bulk Water Sales
  3. Complete the zoning application to permit Bulk Water Sales
  4. With Bulk Water Sales revenues, reduce dependence on donations to balance the books
  5. Once all the above is established, search new ways in which the objectives of the Society can be directed.

Whatshan has been my life as well as that of many of my contemporaries, I wish Jim Laktin and the new Board every success to achieve greater heights of success.

Elmer Verigin

A Personal Review of Honesty Versus Lying at the Extremes

So it I 0840 hours PST on May 13, 2018 here in Castlegar, B.C. It is Mothers Day!

My Mother is now in another dimension but what I recall most about her that reaches far above her unconditional love for her family and I, is her persistence in educating me on the meaning of the word honesty……….

Also the consequences of honesty versus lying. Her ability to penetrate my young mind was successful so that today, I still find that I avoid people that have even mildly lied to me. In many ways that has affected my social interaction with people. Especially people who consider fibs and a few “white lies” as a normal way of life. Well even Presidents of USA and our Prime Minster do that.

In a dated article on this blog, I introduced my understanding of Neurons! Since then I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ryan Darcy, a progressively accepted NeuroScientist, who is the Head of that department at the Surrey Hospital and is heading a full exploration of this new Science in the Federal Research Department.

Last year when I met him for a weekend at Whatshan lake Retreat, he explained a few fundamental facts about Neurons:

  • “there are as many Neurons in your body as there are Celestial Bodies in all of Creation”
  • Neurons communicate directly with Quantum Physics (the Environment, partially correct for a better understanding)
  • Neurons control the body functions
  • Neurons can be successfully directly for physical and mental health
  • We talked about this fact in the addictions treatment of drug and alcohol as well as many of the aging diseases such as Dementia and related diseases
  • Even blindness and sight have been successfully treated by inserting microbes in the tongue and communicating with the Neurons. Resting shows great possibilities

Last Monday I went to see my Acupuncturist, Dr. Justin Kanigan, while he followed my aging pains and treated them by poking needles just about everywhere. We talked about Neurons and he suggested that there may be as many Neurons in our stomachs as there are in our heads. I did not know that and I thought about it since. I could not understand all this and so I emailed Dr Darcy for input which he responds as follows :

“…..The sentiment – about gut feelings – is one I have always been a huge fan and encouraged thinking and there is far more to the enteric nervous system that we think. However, there are not more neurons in the stomach than in the brain (100 – 200 million versus 100 billion, respectively). Enteric system does come in second though compared to spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. And it has 90% of body’s serotonin with brain only at 10% – serotonin is key neurotransmitter for mood, emotion and other things……”

Let us just think about that and after a short time, think again!

So what we have going on in our stomachs is a huge explanation of how we think and our actions. Perhaps our reasons for being honest and some lying as I am sure in each person’s life there have been sufficient reasons to be dishonest in order to be able to survive. Once that has taken place, the next time it is much easier to be dishonest.

Now I have a better understanding about Nature and I will work on understanding people. It is not the person but the Neurons / Quantum Physics interrelationship that is causing that person to act mysteriously.

I will write more on this later as now I need to prepare for a Mother’s Day Brunch. The family has decide that we will gather all together:

  • Great Grandmother
  • Grandmothers
  • Mothers

All together and celebrate at the Castlegar Golf Course followed by a likely visit to the Casino while some of us will just go for a walk.

Posted 0945 hours, Sunday, May 14, 2018 by Elmer Verigin


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.