The Russian Refugees

A Family's First Century in Canada

By (author): Michael Andruff
ISBN 9781772034196
Softcover | Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Book Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
288 Pages

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.

About the Author(s)

Mike Andruff (1952–2023) was the author of self-published ten travel books. He was a first-generation Canadian and was in a unique position to observe his refugee father over the course of his lifetime, which provided the material for his memoir, The Russian Refugees. The solitude brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the notion of writing a family history revealed to him the importance of the private sponsorship of refugees in Canada. After a long career in business, he retired with his wife, Claire, in Vancouver, BC. Mike passed away in December 2023 after a brief battle with cancer. Donations in his memory can be made to the Homeglen Legacy Fund at Mosaic BC.


"The Russian Refugees provides a glimpse not only into one family’s story but into the experiences of many Canadians, as the narrative spans nearly a century and shows a broad perspective of the country’s ever-changing values."
Canada's History
“In this labour of love for his Russian-Canadian family, Michael Andruff shows how “luck and good timing” allowed his grandparents to dodge happenstance and inconsistent immigration laws to transform from being stateless refugees to becoming productive citizens of Canada with a deep respect for the idea of freedom.”
—Lynne Bowen, award-winning author of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia
“Michael Andruff is a master storyteller who follows the harrowing journey of his poverty-stricken and persecuted Russian family to Canada. Painstakingly researched, Andruff’s tale of courage and resilience in the face of enormous odds will resonate with many Canadians whose forebears also sacrificed to ensure a better life for future generations.”
—Roberta Staley, author of Voice of Rebellion: How Mozhdah Jamalzadah Brought Hope to Afghanistan
"Andruff's deeply personal multi-generational family history recounts the detailed life experiences of individual refugees. Their drive to live productive, independent lives in Canada, and to provide for their children’s future spurs Andruff's commendable call for Canadians to increase acceptance of and support for today’s refugees.”
—Shari Peyerl, author of Alberta’s Cornerstone: Archaeological Adventures in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
“I found this book, The Russian Refugees, to be a fascinating one. It not only includes the generational stories of one family but it also highlights the many economical, political, and social obstacles that they had to overcome in order to survive. Andruff is an eloquent and heartfelt writer who weaves all of these disparate stories together. More importantly, he has the ability to look beyond immigration policy to see the personal challenges of family life in Canada.”
—Sandra Rollings-Magnusson, author of Tales from the Homestead: A History of Prairie Pioneers, 1867–1914