Tsar Nicholas II: The Canadian Connection

Most of us have heard at least something about the tragedy of the Romanov family.  Tsar Nicholas was the head of an ancient regime that repressed its citizens, and committed millions of soldiers to death on the battlefield in World War One. As a punishment for the arrogance and threat of his position, the Red Russians murdered the Tsar and his immediate family. His four daughters didn’t die fast enough- the volley of bullets that rained down on them seemed to be repelled, and in the end they were bayoneted to death. Tsar Nicholas’ son, who was a hemophiliac, didn’t have a chance.

Few are aware there is a Canadian connection to this Russian monarchy. Tsar Nicholas II was the son of Tsar Alexander III, and one of six children- four boys and two girls.

Olga Alexandrovna was the youngest child of Tsar Alexander III, and sister to Tsar Nicholas. She was married to a man almost twice her age at 19.  It was believed that he was homosexual, and the marriage was never consummated.  In fact when Olga actually fell in love with someone and wanted her current marriage annulled her husband, Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, refused her request, but allowed her love to reside in the same residence.

It was Tsar Nicholas that would ultimately annul her sham marriage in 1916-13 years after she had initially fallen in love with Nikolai Kulikovsky. She was a second mother to Nicholas’ children, when their mother was overcome with depression.  She was the godmother to the youngest Anastasia, and she attended public events in the Tsarina’s stead when she was not able.

Compassionate by nature, she had built schools and learned the art of nursing in the first years of her marriage.  She also nursed soldiers on the battlefield of World War One.

After her brother abdicated, the whole Romanov family was under house arrest, and in danger of their lives.  Escaping to Crimea, all were sentenced to death, but the advance of the German army had given the Romanov’s the obfuscation they needed.  Olga’s mother, Maria, her husband two sons sister and nanny escaped to Denmark- her mother’s homeland.  At this point they still didn’t know the tragedy of Nicholas II and his wife and children.

It was only after her mother’s death, and the threat of Stalin’s wrath that Olga and her family decided to move to Canada in 1948. They owned a generous farm in Ontario- and Olga sold her paintings to support her charities.  She died in 1960- her sister, Xenia, who also immigrated to Canada, followed that same year.

It is an interesting tale of a tragic family. The stories she could share- I must read her biography!

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