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Balakshin Andrew Alexander 1874-1956

ANDREW ALEXANDER BALAKSHIN

The Balakshin family ancestors were brave men and women from Northern Russia who ventured across the Ural Mountains to the vast spaces of Siberia, in search of adventure and freedom from oppression. There were no landlords in Siberia and no serfdom, and this helped shape living standards for the hardy race known as Siberians. The Balakshin ancestors were hardy, healthy, industrious God-fearing folk and above all were good neighbors to all.

Alexander Nicholas Balakshin was born into a farmer’s family in the town of Yalutorovsk in 1844. He picked up the buoyant energies of his enterprising father and got his early education from Decembrists residing in Yalutorovsk. He was also a practicing lawyer in the city of Kurgan. Andrew was born Jan.6, 1874. The family moved to the outskirts of Kurgan, where his father entered into a partnership to start a potato growing operation and processing plant.

Andrew was sent to the agricultural school in Kazan. In 1899 he married Maria Vassilievna Kharlamoff, the youngest daughter of a prominent Kurgan merchant. In 1900 the cooperatives boom swept the country. A. N. Balakshin got involved in the movement, and his efforts culminated in 1907 in the Union of Siberian Creamery Associations, of which he became first president, until in 1913 he went to England in semi-retirement. Andrew sold his interest in the partnership to become president and managing director of the Creamery Union.

In 1917, the revolution made changes. The head office of the Union was moved to Omsk. A.A.B. became chairman of the advisory commission for the administration of Admiral Kolchak. In 1919, he was persuaded to move to Vladivostok. In June 1920, he moved his family as refugees to China. They settled in Shanghai with daughters Natalie, Irene, Ann and son Nicholas. The Siberian Agricultural Corporation was created. A. N. Balakshin died in November 1921.

In 1922 Natalie was sent to Seattle to university. She married there and became an American citizen. She later settled in Portland, Oregon. In August 1923, the family moved to Tientsin and started negotiations to emigrate to Canada. In July 1925 the family traveled to Japan and then boarded a Canadian Pacific steamship to Vancouver.

To comply with immigration rules, they had to settle as farmers. The Chilliwack district was found to be a most desirable place for a farm. The family became real Canadian farmers with little money and a huge debt.

In 1937 Ann became the first licensed baby chick sexier in Canada. Irene followed her. The Second World War increased demand for agricultural products, and the farm was fully paid up by the end of 1943. In 1941 A.A.B. entered the Canadian R.O.P. poultry-breeding program. Electric incubators were installed, and chicks were sold throughout B.C. and Alberta. A 23-acre farm across the road was bought in 1944. Nicholas became manager and in 1947 owner of New Siberia Farms. In 1944 he married Era Dieff.

A.A.B. died in 1956, on the eve of his 82nd birthday. He helped with the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Society and advised its administrators. He gave monetary help to displaced persons of Russian origin and offered farm employment to some new arrivals. He had given generously to charitable organizations. His widow died in 1975 at the age of 96.

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