Mir Lecture: Vera Maloff

Castlegar, Mir Centre for Peace

The Making of a Doukhobor Pacifist

Vera Maloff crouches amid grass and flowers

Join author Vera Maloff to hear excerpts from her latest book, They Called Him a Radical: The Memoirs of Pete Maloff and the Making of a Doukhobor Pacifist, the memoir of her grandfather, noted Doukhobor pacifist and philosopher Pete Maloff written during his years under house arrest for peaceful protests. 

In the book, Vera revisits Pete's memoirs, which recount a fascinating life that took him from Saskatchewan to Oregon and California and eventually to Thrums, where he married and raised his family.

Vera will also share stories of growing up in the local Doukhobor community. A bestselling author, Vera was born and raised in Nelson. She attended Selkirk College, and then received her teaching degree from the University of British Columbia. She taught in Nelson and the Kootenay Columbia school district until retirement.

Learn more about "They Called Him a Radical"

Peter “Pete” Maloff was born in Saskatchewan in 1900, the year after the first Doukhobors, including his parents, immigrated to Canada. Living through the eras of WWI and WWII in a Doukhobor community strengthened his deep-rooted belief in pacifism and, at a young age, he dedicated himself completely to the idea that there must be another way to solve conflicts. This quest, as well as Maloff’s status as an "outsider," was not always welcomed—judges and wardens considered him a radical and his influence a threat, and his outspokenness and peaceful protests resulted in house arrest and years in Canadian jails. Maloff was not deterred, and his perseverance garnered him many followers, including some who had formerly worked against him or had helped to incarcerate him.

Today, his granddaughter Vera Maloff remembers Pete as a tall, strong, charismatic man. Growing up, she worked beside him in the family’s gardens, and at the local markets where they sold produce, she recalls that he would be regularly surrounded by people wanting to hear him speak. He was a kind, caring man, and the time spent incarcerated, forced away from his family, did not seem to have dulled his spirit. He was an avid reader, who taught his family to consider all aspects and perspectives, instilling an awareness of other people and cultures and an eagerness to learn.

In They Called Him a Radical: The Memoirs of Pete Maloff and the Making of a Doukhobor Pacifist, Vera revisits her grandfather’s memoirs, written while under house arrest and covering the formative years from his birth to his late twenties, during which Pete’s resolve to live as a pacifist was cemented. Here, Pete writes of growing up in the new Canadian Doukhobor community at the turn of the century, meeting influential figures in the pacifist movement in California, his time in a cooperative freedom colony in Oregon, and his turning to writing, as he truly believed that the pen could be mightier than the sword.

Admission is by donation.