Alexander Rybin by Lawrna Myers

Image - Reibin, Alexander & Anna

Reibin, Alexander & Anna

Alexander A. Rybin is my great-great grandfather. He was born about 1856 in the village of Efremovka in the province of Tiflis in Russia. Alexander was the third son born to Alexander A. and Pelgea Rybin.

It is presumed that in either the village of Goroloe or Efremovka in Tiflis province, Russia that Alexander married Anna Potapova. Anna was born on January 25, 1856 in Goreloe, Tiflis, daughter of Alexander V. and Maria Potapov. They settled into the village of Efremovka and had the following children: Nastia, Ivan (John), Petro (Peter), Alexis (Alex) and Maria.

The family was of the Doukhobor faith. In the 18th century, the family patriarch resided in the village of Sukharevka, in the Izzium district of Sloboda-Ukraine province, Russia (present day Kharkov province, Ukraine). During the reigns of Catherine the Great (1762-1796) and Paul I (1796-1801) the Doukhobors of Sloboda-Ukraine were severely persecuted. Many were tortured, imprisoned and exiled.

In a decree dated January 25, 1802, Alexander I permitted the Doukhobors of Sloboda-Ukraine to resettle along the Molochnaya River in the Melitopol district of Tavria province, Russia (present day Zaporozhye province, Ukraine).

In 1825, Nicholas I ascended the Russian throne. Under his repressive policies, those professing the Doukhobor faith were subject to renewed persecution. Branding them an "especially pernicious sect", Nicholas urged their forced assimilation through military conscription, restricted movement, prohibited gatherings and Russian Orthodox missionary activity. Finally from 1841 to 1845 all Doukhobors living in Tavria who refused to convert to Russian Orthodoxy were forcibly exiled to the Caucasus mountain region. In the Caucasus, the Rybin family settled in the village of Efremovka in Tiflis province, Russia (present-day Georgia).

Following the Burning of the Arms in 1895, harsh reprisals against the Doukhobors ensued. Hundreds were imprisoned, tortured and exiled and the Rybin family made the decision to emigrate. In October of 1898, Canada, after months of negotiations, agreed to receive the Doukhobors. vBy November 29, 1898 the railcars carrying the Doukhobors, with the Rybin's amongst them, arrived at the port of Batum. The Rybin's at this time consisted of my great-great grandparents, Alexander and Anna along with their five children.

Image - Boarding the SS Lake Huron

Boarding the SS Lake Huron.gif

On December 10, 1898 the Doukhobors were finally able to board the S.S. Lake Huron. The voyage started off in calm waters through the Mediterranean Sea but the stillness would not last and on January 3rd, while out on the Atlantic Ocean, a storm hit. The first gust of wind struck the ship with all its might causing the ship to shudder. The water darkened and wrinkled with white spots of foam dotting the surface. The ship rolled from swell to swell and everyone on board retreated to their bunks. By the 8th of January nine people had perished.

By the next day the storm began to abate and on the 12th, after 32 days at sea, the port of Halifax was in sight. On the morning of the 13th all were allowed to disembark at Lawlor's Island, the Quarantine Station outside of Halifax, for a medical examination. On the 14th of January the S.S. Lake Huron left Halifax and sailed to Saint John, New Brunswick where everyone disembarked and boarded the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

On January 22nd they arrived in Winnipeg where most stayed until February while arrangements were made to move to the North Settlement in the Pelly-Arran District of the Northwest Territories (present day Saskatchewan).

The family settled into the village of Voznesenie once they reached Saskatchewan. Voznesenie is from the Russian for the "Ascension", a festival held on the 40th day after Easter celebrating the bodily passing of Christ from earth to heaven. It is one of the few holidays celebrated by the Doukhobor faith. The village was situated near the Swan River and had a grist mill and a linseed oil press.

Image - Vozneisennie


Doukhobor leaders managed to have the lands in Saskatchewan registered in the name of the community rather than in private ownership. By 1906, Frank Oliver, the Minister of Interior started requiring that land be registered in the name of the individual owner. Many Doukhobors refused to do, resulting in the loss of more than a third (258,880 acres) of the Doukhobor lands to the Crown.

With the loss of lands in Saskatchewan and their unwillingness to take out individual homesteads, the Reibin family decided to relocate to British Columbia making the move to Brilliant around 1910.

Eventually the family settled in the Shoreacres area (Prekrasnoye) of British Columbia. Prekrasnoye comes from the Russian word for "beautiful". It was in 1917 that the Doukhobors purchased lands and cleared the forest, planted orchards and grain fields and established single doms and other single dwellings. The Reibin family lived in one of the single doms with the Kalmakoff family. Also at Prekrasnoye, the Doukhobors built an irrigation works, sawmill, packinghouse, blacksmith shop, granaries, and barns.

Image - Reibin family travelling to the Train Station for trip to BC

Reibin family travelling to the Train Station for trip to BC

Alexander always worked in the village where he lived; he was a good blacksmith, carpenter and shoed horses for his village and other villages that were close by.

He was known as a healer and people would bring him jars of honey or water and he would lay his hands on the jar and "whisper". After, the jar would be taken to the person who was sick and it was used to help in the healing of the person or so the story goes.

As Alexander grew older he lost his sight, but managed to be productive by going to the woodshed and chopping kindling for the kitchen wood stove.

It was while living in Shoreacres that Alexander passed away about 1932. Anna remained in the area until her passing on July 25, 1939 at the age of 83. Both are buried in the Shoreacres Doukhobor Cemetery where, unfortunately, the wooden markers that were used no longer exist to indicate their final resting spot.