Monday, January 27, 2014

Maritime Monday: S/S Lake Superior and the Dimovsky Family

SS Lake Superior
S/S Lake Superior [1]

In the 1990s, my father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff gave me some stapled sheets of paper of research he had done about his Demosky family. (I’ve written here about how the name changed from Konkin to Demofsky to Demosky to Demoskoff.)

According to Pop’s information, his father Wasyl, grandfather Mikhail Demosky, and other family members sailed from Batum on the Lake Superior in April 1899 “with 1,010 Doukhobors, arriving at Quebec on May 10, 1899”. [2]

In those early days after I was married, I never thought to ask my father-in-law what his sources were. Now that Pop is 99 years old and has a poor memory, I can’t ask him.

After some investigation as to which ships left Europe for Canada with Doukhobors in 1899, I realized that Pop got a few things confused. For example, the Lake Superior travelled to Canada three times that year, but it departed only once from Batum, Russia (now Batumi, Georgia) in January.

Over the years, I looked at microfilmed ships’ manifests borrowed through inter-library loan from the Public Archives of Canada (now Libraries and Archives Canada). I couldn’t find Pop’s ancestors in any manifest I searched, including those of other ships like the Lake Huron. I’m disappointed, but not too surprised, at not having found Pop’s family. According to Jonathan Kalmakoff, “the ship passenger lists for over 3,200 Doukhobor immigrants are missing or incomplete”. [3]

A couple of years ago, I bought a useful publication titled Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928. It’s a lot easier to look for immigrant families, now, instead of searching through an unindexed reel of microfilm. If after finding a name or family of interest in the Lists book, and I want to see the scanned manifest, I head over to LAC's website and view the microfilmed images of these passenger lists at Passenger Lists, 1865-1922. Take note, however, that the database is not searchable by passenger name, but can be searched by name of ship, date of departure, and other variables.

Today is the 115th anniversary of the arrival of the Lake Superior in Canada. It carried 1,342 men, women and children and was the third ship that brought Doukhobor refugees from Tsarist Russia. The Lake Superior departed Batum on 4 January 1899 and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 27 January 1899.

In honour of this historic date, here is a list showing the Dimovsky family (a spelling variation of Demofsky) that made the journey. [4] I should add two things, though. First, I haven't found how or if this family is related to my father-in-law. Second, it’s the only family by this name on the manifest, because the “the ship’s purser recorded only 899 of the 1,997 Doukhobor passengers on board”. [5]

SS Lake Superior Passenger List


1. Photo of S/S Lake Superior (built 1884), digital image, Norway – Heritage ( : accessed 8 January 2014).

2. William W. Demoskoff, “Descendents [sic] of Mikhail (Konkin) Demofski) Demoskoff” (typescript, ca 1980s or 1990s), unpaginated; privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia, 2014. This unpublished work consisting of three typed sheets was researched by William (Bill) Demoskoff. It does not contain supporting documentation for its data. Bill gave the typescript to his son Michael and daughter-in-law Yvonne in the 1990s.

3. “Index to Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 8 January 2014).

4. Steve Lapshinoff & Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928 (Crescent Valley: self-published, 2001), 8.

5. Lapshinoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928, 3.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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