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Russia in Vancouver

By Eleanor Dooley, The Sunday Province, 1930

Vancouver has its colorful contingent of that great host of Russian refugees of the educated classes, which for the 13 years since the Communist government took hold in Russia, has wandered forth into the uttermost parts of the earth like the lost tribes of Israel.

Through the terrible picturesque ness of their plight they are vividly before the eyes of the world today, with the shifts to which they are put to earn their living by the roughest work with the courage and cheerfulness of which those who know them speak, with their recuperative faculties and their talents; men and women – “but please say particularly the women, they are so clever and so brave,” a Russian officer said to the writer.

All is not drab misery, broken fingernails and the gizzards of fowls for the White Russians of Vancouver. They have their social events, at which they compare notes over their experiences. It is the fashion to do dirty work and to laugh about it, which makes things very much easier.

Professors, lawyers, judges, soldiers, musicians are working as mechanics, house plasterers, auto wreckers; or, if more fortunate, as engineers and contractors. Some open little art stores and carpenters’ shops and have to close again; they understand they are victims of the general situation.

Russians of the educated classes are farming on Lulu Island, having failed in many cases on the prairies owing to lack of guidance and poor crops. Clever specialists are almost certain to find their niche in the West, given time.

The Veteran Association of the Great War in Paris has two affiliated branches in Vancouver. This association also acts as an information agency for Russians abroad. The Ataman of the Cossacks in Vancouver is Mr. Krivzoff, who presides over a mutual aid and fellowship society conducted in accordance with old Cossack traditions.

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