Why would a group of over 2,000 people march naked across Western Canada’s prairies ?

Settling Canada’s West:

kremlin-russia_104101-1280x800

Kremlin Russia

The largest migration to Canada at one time, (8,000 people) the Doukhobors have been a little known factor in the settling of the west in Canada. When you read and research Canadian history you will discover mainly Anglo-Franco activities that are documented.

The Doukhobors were considered a pacifist group. But they challenged the Czar and the Orthodox Church In Russia and Russia appeared to be happy to let the troublemakers go. Canada opened their doors.  But it wasn’t all kindness on Canada’s part. The Doukhobors were great farmers and well able to handle the harshness of cold winters and isolation better than most.

Vosnesenya_-_Thunder_Hill_Colony

Vosnesenia village, NE of Arran, Saskatchewan (North Colony)

Yet the question is – why did many Doukhobors start marching across the western prairies?  In 1902, 2000 or so Doukhobors –  many naked, calling themselves – The Sons of Freedom marched across the cold prairies.  They were searching for Utopia – the land of milk and honey. The Canadian government reports they marched in protest against having to sign allegiance to Canada (something their religion didn’t believe should be done).  And they were ordered to stake claim to square sections of land – privately owned, rather than share communal lands.  It was probably a reason but why naked?  Many Doukhobors, who didn’t win against the government, moved to British Columbia, where the laws didn’t say they must own the land in individual square parcels.

In Paradise on the Horizon my heroine escapes Russia, by joining the Doukhobors migration.

Paradise on the Horizon by Mary M Forbes

Advertisements

Setting for Paradise on the Horizon

The Doukhobors, one of Canada’s largest immigration groups were from Russia.They were a strange religious sect to many people.  They were peaceful, refused to fight but were excellent farmers.  They were certainly a great group to settle  the prairies of Canada.  Then one day at the beginning of the 1900’s Canada’s hostile plains defeated them.  Nearly half calling themselves ‘Sons of Freedom‘ went marching, mostly naked in the cool spring searching for Utopia. My heroine, Natasha – a Russian Princess, escapes from Russia with the Doukhobors.

Researching further I discovered Canada was fighting in the Boer War in South Africa.  British Kitchener decided to appease the people complaining in England he would use any and all examples of abuse and severely punish any soldier, Canadian or English charged with atrocities, true or not.  My hero  – a Canadian soldier – is one of those wrongly charged.

Disowned by his family and friends he goes out west.  He first hires himself out as a guard to stop the Sons of Freedom before they freeze to death.  He discovers that a Reverend Barr is starting up a colony on the Saskatchewan/Alberta border.  Until he can clear his name, as Barr wants only good English stock in his colony, Luke becomes a farmer.  He knows nothing of farming but helps Natasha escape the Doukhobors knowing she does, thinking she is a Doukhobor.

All these incidents tied together so well – true incidents, my story Paradise on the Horizon, was created.

Publishing Companies and Guidelines

WRITING BY GUIDELINES 

5. Any story that only allows for one type of genre (such as comedy, drama, action, etc).

This was  in the list Sean gave for over-used story lines.  The predictable story in Genre writing could be a drawback to future readers.  Perhaps it is time to remove some of the necessary stories/characters that publishing companies require.  Does anyone else feel that genres might be stifling the creativity of writers?

Mainstream gives some flexibility but is often stifled by ‘content’ – although the rigid storyline might not be silented often the story-line might not be allowed – which brings many of my points in over-used story lines into play as well. 

This is a bit of advice when considering writing Genre. 

Always get a copy of the guidelines from the publishing company or companies you are targeting.  The publishing companies have a guideline of do’s and do not’s that might be a surprise – and they change.  So remember to get ‘up-to-date’ guidelines as well.  Some topics they don’t deal with might surprise you.

While they might accept a struggling heroine in Romance – she shouldn’t be homeless.  To have a hero as struggling – is not their type of hero. The hero is usually successful in his career as well as being older.

In Romance – although they accept certain types of musicians that is limited as well. It would be a lot of work to write about a Rap singer as an example – only to discover he was not an acceptable hero.  I was surprised to discover that sports weren’t accepted most places as well.  I would have thought that they would often fall into the category of a Romance hero.   He would be their ‘formula’ of a man who builds himself up – becomes wealthy and often keeps himself grounded as well. I don’t know if his age and wisdom comes into play.  Most sports figures are young.

My second suggestion would be not to have your characters just fall into bed with each other because they can’t control their physical attraction.  Although there are certain sub-genres even in Harlequin which often make me think I’m reading porn – and just as often I wonder if this is what the public wants and asking for today.  These types of books have been on the market a few years now – so I would assume there is a demand for them. This would be an example of changing guidelines.

Historical Romances are somewhat different – but I would still suggest you get the company’s guidelines.  I have been advised by companies they are not interested in Canadian content for example.  Canada, like every other country in the world, has some interesting history often like the USA – and even interesting history that has never been used in fiction writing.  I would think it would be something different – but I would be thinking wrong by publishing company standards.  I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been told that.

‘Boy meets girl in Winnipeg – and so what?’ was actually a line I read once – and so my ‘Hawk’s Gift’ was born.  The Riel Rebellion was a Civil War – not nearly as long or devastating as the American Civil War – but I’m sure to the people involved – it was disturbing for them.

In Canada there is a mine reputed to have as much gold as the gold found in the Yukon.  This mine – called the Lost Lemon Mine – is supposed to be in the Crowsnest Pass area of Alberta.  It is said that anyone touching the gold will suffer dire consequences.  The curse was put on by the Indian Tribes of southern Alberta.  And so my ‘Alberta Wild Rose’ was born.

Again, while researching I discovered a large group of Doukhobors migrated to Canada – then a few years later many of this group ‘cracked’ under the strain of hardships they suffered – and went marching across the barren prairies searching for Utopia – naked.  They called themselves the ‘Sons of Freedom’. At the same time Canada was fighting in a war – the Boer War in South Africa with the British.  As this was an unpopular war a British leader – Kitchener – decided to set up his soldiers for any imagined or unimagined slight – and feed them to the press to take the pressure off fighting the war.  There was also a man who decided to set up farmlands using only good English stock instead of foreigners.  This settlement failed as I imagine any successful farmer in England was content to continue farming in England.  When I combined all these fascinating incidents – ‘Paradise on the Horizon’ was born.

There was a point during my insecurities I thought of changing ‘locations’ to please the publishing companies.  Now, I am glad I didn’t. I have learned it is best to write what you love and what you enjoy rather than follow ‘guidelines’.

I will not take away from writer’s that do follow guidelines.  To me it is an example of our individualism. There are many ‘genre’ books I read and enjoy.  Just as there are times when the ‘accepted’ form is ignored by a writer and still published.

Good luck to all writer’s regardless of their preferences.