The Russian Refugees
A Family's First Century in Canada
About the Book
A sweeping family history, chronicling the journey of a group of Russian refugees who settled in rural Alberta in 1924, this book pays tribute to countless people who have found a safe haven in Canada over the past 100 years.
Every refugee has a story. This book follows the life of Nikifor Andriev, driven from his homeland in 1924, to settle in Canada as part of a group of 116 privately sponsored Russian refugees. Their new home, the aptly named Homeglen, Alberta, was a symbol of promise and prosperity. With a newly Anglicized name, Nikifor—now Michael—embarked on the Canadian dream, raising a family and eventually leaving Alberta for a better-paying industrial job in BC.
Like countless other refugees and immigrants, Nikifor faced the obstacles and opportunities of life in Canada with a determination to succeed against all odds. Reinventing himself time and again following numerous setbacks and tragedies, he watched his family grow and disburse to pursue their own dreams, with the hope that each succeeding generation would have an easier life than the one that came before it. Nearly a century after Nikifor’s arrival in Homeglen, his son and namesake Michael Andruff, reflects upon his family’s history, the legacy of the refugee experience, and the parallels of his father’s generation of refugees with people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and, most recently, Ukraine, today.
As the son of a refugee who has benefitted from the stability and prosperity of life in Canada, Andruff shares this story as a call to action. The descendants and friends of the original group of 116 refugees who settled in Homeglen are asked to contribute to the Homeglen Legacy Fund, with the goal of raising $30,000 to privately sponsor a refugee family of four prior to June 2024 (the hundred-year anniversary of the original group’s arrival in Canada). Andruff is donating his royalties from the sale of this book to the Homeglen Legacy Fund.
—Lynne Bowen, award-winning author of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia
—Roberta Staley, author of Voice of Rebellion: How Mozhdah Jamalzadah Brought Hope to Afghanistan
—Shari Peyerl, author of Alberta’s Cornerstone: Archaeological Adventures in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
—Sandra Rollings-Magnusson, author of Tales from the Homestead: A History of Prairie Pioneers, 1867–1914