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