Superb photo postcard of Doukhobor women pulling a plow, in the North Colony (Swan River) of Saskatchewan.
Written in ink at top of photo “Doukobar Women Ploughing. Near Swan River. Manitoba. From J.W.S. xmas 07”.
The North Colony, also known as the "Thunder Hill Colony" or "Swan River Colony", in the Pelly and Arran districts of Saskatchewan (Assiniboia before 1905). It became home to 2,400 Doukhobors from Tiflis Governorate, who established 20 villages on 69,000 acres (280 km2) of the land grant.
Manitoba Free Press October 1st 1902:
…it has been my privilege to visit the thirteen Doukhobor villages in the Swan River valley, extending from Thunder Hill, eighteen miles along the Swan River, in Eastern Assiniboia and the impressions that I formed from my personal contact with the Doukhobors and from my observations of their habits and customs is extremely favorable in their behalf. In the thirteen villages there are 2,500 souls, the population of the villages ranging from 100 to 250. These villages comprise what is know as the North colony.
Ii is a little over three years since they settled on the land set apart for them by the Dominion government. They had no cattle, horses or implement to start with, but the good Quakers of the United States came to their aid and furnished them with means to purchase these necessary articles in a limited way. With primitive methods they went to work with characteristic energy and abounding patience and faith and today they have under cultivation an aggregate of 5,540 acres…
The Doukhobors or Dukhobors are a Spiritual Christian religious group of Russian origin. With support from the Canadian government, 7500 moved to Western Canada around 1900. They were pacifists who lived in communes that rejected personal materialism and had little use for schools.
The resistance of the Doukhobors gained international attention and the Empire was criticized for its treatment of this religious minority. In 1897 the Russian government agreed to let the Doukhobors leave the country, subject to a number of conditions.
Some of the emigrants went first to Cyprus, but did not like the climate. The rest of the community accepted an offer from Canada to resettle there, believing its isolation and peacefulness would be good. Around 6,000 emigrated there in the first half of 1899, settling on land granted to them by the government in what is now Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Cyprus colony and others joined them, with a total of 7500 emigrants by the end of the year, about one-third of the total Doukhobor population in Russia.