They Called Him a Radical

By (author): Pete Maloff

With: Vera Maloff

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.


Vera Maloff

Vera Maloff was born into a Doukhobor family in the Kootenay valley of British Columbia. Her writing reflects the influence of her grandparents, who were active in the peace movement and befriended the American draft resisters, alternative healing practitioners, and social justice advocates who were regular visitors to their market garden farm. After retiring from a career in teaching, Vera began to record family stories passed down from generations. Her essays have been published in the Doukhobor magazine Iskra, in the West Kootenay Journal and in The New Orphic Review. Her first book, Our Backs Warmed by the Sun: Stories of a Doukhobor Life, was described by The Vancouver Sun as “a wonderful contribution to our understanding of Canada’s past.” Vera lives with her partner, Steve, in the community of Shoreacres on the Slocan River, where she continues the family traditions of gardening, singing in Doukhobor community choirs, and participating in peace gatherings and cooking groups.


Pete Maloff

Peter “Pete” Maloff was born in Saskatchewan in 1900, the year after the Doukhobors immigrated to Canada. He spent the first years of his life in the Doukhobor community of Christianovka. He lived through the eras of WWI and WWII, dedicating himself to pacifism and the promotion of peace. He was jailed for his activism, forced into isolation from his family for many years. During his time under house arrest, he wrote his memoirs of the first thirty years of his life. Upon his release from house arrest in 1943, he continued to write and to speak to audiences about peace and equality. In the 1940s, he authored his comprehensive book, Doukhobors: Their History, Life and Struggle. In the 1950s, he edited the literary journal Rassvet: The Voice of Free Thinkers. His work led to recognition from Mahatma Ghandi, Ilya Lvovich Tolstoy, and J. William Lloyd. He lived alongside his family until his passing in 1971.


They Called Him a Radical makes available for the first time the autobiography of Peter N. Maloff (1900–1971). He was born in Canada to Doukhobor parents exiled from Russia after their community had organized a public burning of firearms, one of the most spectacular protests against conscription and the military system at the end of the nineteenth century. Introducing each chapter with insightful personal recollections and historical commentary, Vera Maloff affectionally describes how her open-minded grandfather ‘Pete’ came to be an ‘Independent Doukhobor,’ an intellectual and world citizen, who endured many hardships in his adherence to the moral truth ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ His conscientious approach chimes in with current efforts for an ecologically sustainable future on Earth with social justice for all, and Pete Maloff encourages us by calling for a ‘bloodless subsistence’—simple living and a vegetarian diet, the renunciation of luxury, the eschewal of exploiting others, and non-violent resistance against all violence and any war along the lines of Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi.”

—Dr. Dominique Miething, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin


There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×
There are no other resources for this book.

Reader Reviews



9.00in * 6.00in *


March 22, 2024


Caitlin Press



Featured In:

All Books



No author posts found.

Related Blog Posts

There are no posts with this book.