Doukhobors celebrate 60th anniversary of Kamsack Prayer Home

            The 60th anniversary of the Kamsack Prayer Home was celebrated December 13 during a Christmas “Moleniye” and potluck supper held for the members of the Kamsack and District Doukhobor Society and members of the societies at Benito, Pelly, Veregin and Canora.

            Lydia Cherkas, whose grandfather had been on the society’s board when the Prayer Home was opened, read a front page article about the opening from the Kamsack Times dated June 22, 1955.

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            Mike Chutskoff is the only living member of the society who had worked on the construction of the Prayer Home. He had volunteered his time by hauling the shavings for the Prayer Home’s insulation from a saw mill in Roblin, Man., making numerous trips each day. Chutskoff had the honour of cutting a special anniversary cake which was then served with ice cream and coffee to those in attendance.

            “The Society of Doukhobors of Kamsack and District opened their new prayer home, valued at some $15,000 in an impressive but brief opening ceremony here last Wednesday, June 22,” the newspaper article says. “The ceremonies climaxed more than 11 months of toil by volunteer labourers and a final rush week of putting the finishing touches to a project which was conceived some 3 ½ years ago.

            “At 11 a.m., a special prayer service was held in the home. The prayer service was led by N.W. Cazakoff, who is the present elected leader of the religious group.

            “The official opening, conducted mainly in the Russian tongue, was begun at 1 p.m. Acting as master of ceremonies for the day was Wm. Chutskoff, the chairman of the building committee for the home. In his official capacity as chairman of the committee, Mr. Chutskoff handed the key of the building over to N.W. Cazakoff. Mr. Cazakoff, who is also the recording secretary of the organization, then addressed the assembled throng in Russian.

            “N.A. Rilkoff, the financial secretary of the Society of Doukhobors, then gave a review of the building of the structure. Philip Makaseiff of the Cote district was one of the speakers to convey and offer congratulations to the people for erecting such a fine, imposing structure. Mayor E.J. Johnson, acting in his official capacity, extended his warmest congratulations to the Doukhobors on behalf of the town, while Arnold Feusi, MLA, added words of praise.

            “The guest speaker for the day who addressed the crowd in Russian was John Golistian, an evangelistic minister from Toronto, who is currently working in the Benito area. Alex W. Sherstabitoff was also included in the list of speakers. At various intervals throughout the ceremonies, the church choir of 17 members offered selections.

            “The fine new structure was then thrown open to public inspection, giving many a chance to view the building. In the basement, dinner and supper were served by the ladies of the society working voluntarily in three two-hour shifts, the first convened by Mrs. Belovanoff, the second by Mrs. W. Smorodin, the third by Mrs. W. Chutksoff. Serving continued from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

            “During the evening, a film and variety musical program was presented in the Community Hall, starting at 4 p.m. and continuing at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. It is estimated that at least 600 attended the program and films. Featured in the program were many artists as well as a Russian folk choir of some 20 members, entirely apart from the church choir, which favoured the audience with Russian folk tunes. John J. Rezansoff was master of ceremonies, while W.T. Horkoff operated the projector.