Russians in Queensland

A collection of papers in the John Oxley Library that form the archive of the Gubar – Canuk – Mekhonoshin families, created by Paula (Polina) Gubar, has been made more accessible to English speakers thanks to the work of Ms Nataliya Samokhina.

 Nataliya Samokhina holds the passport of Paula Gubar’s father Alexander Yakovlevich Canuk, issued in Vladivostok on 15 Dec 1924.  Passport of Alexander Yakovlevich Canuk, 1924. Wassilie de Basil’s, Monte Carlo Russian Ballet, visiting St. Nicholas Russian Church, Brisbane, 1937. Image number 62013. Paula Gubar on her wedding day.

After completing a six week fieldwork placement at the State Library of Queensland to have her librarianship qualifications recognised in Australia, Nataliya, formerly Head of Department for Students of Secondary School at the Ryazan Regional Children’s Library in the Russian Federation, is currently a volunteer in the Heritage Collections Unit.

During her fieldwork placement Nataliya created an information guide (already used by grateful researchers in the John Oxley Library Reading Room) on Russian related collection items in the John Oxley Library. Whilst working on this project Nataliya became particularly interested in the Gubar Family Photographs and Papers.

In the past few months Nataliya has translated Paula Gubar’s travelling diary of 1924, a selection of letters, and various documents including passports, certificates, and notebooks.

Paula Gubar, nee Canuk, was born in 1911. Her family, originally from the Ukraine, left Russia on 12 Jan 1925 from Vladivostok. They travelled from Russia to Australia via Shanghai – Nagasaki – Hong-Kong – Manila – Philippines – Thursday Island – Townsville – Brisbane.

Paula studied at Brenda McCullough’s ballet school and worked at Borsht’s dress-making factory at South Brisbane. She later started a shop at 577 Stanley Street, where she made clothes to order. She married fellow Russian Basil Gubar (b. 1907 in Harbin, Manchuria) who had arrived in Australia in 1917. Paula and her husband lived in a house at 10 Gibbon Street, Woolloongabba, which became a social focus for fellow Russians. Their daughter Yvonne was born on 12 Dec 1941.

The collection includes hundreds of photographs and material relating to the Mikonoshin/Meek Family. Gregory Mikonoshin practised as an architect in Brisbane and was the creator of the “Fairy House” in MacGregor Terrace, Bardon.

Many thanks to Nataliya, and to all of the John Oxley Library volunteers, whose work is of great importance.

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, People Jo Browse John Oxley Library
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  1. JOL Admin

    Yes Anastasia, Nataliya does approach her work with passion and commitment and she has done a great job here. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Jocelyne Poirier

    I have just celebrated 30 years of my life in Australia (including 24 years in Brisbane), therefore I can appreciate the value of the work Natalya has done: digging out the past of hard working people who without knowing have become part of our Australian heritage. It is in the obscurity that hard and humble working people make their stories our History.

    As a librarian, I trust Natalya has the very traits of someone who will make a difference wherever she goes and whatever she does. And with a nice smile.

    A coach yes, but also a friend

  3. Ryazan Children’s Library

    We are very glad that our colleague Natalia Samokhina has done such a great work for
    State Library of Queensland. She has always been one of the best librarians at our library
    and we are proud of her success. It’s very pleasant that her work is devoted to Russian
    people. We wish her further achievements in her work.

    From Russia with love
    Natalia’s colleagues
    Ryazan Children’s Library

  4. Radojko Roy Babic

    I used to live in formar Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and it was almost a part of the Soviet Union. We used to live as the one big family. I appreciate any information about Slavic people living in Australia.
    I want to thank the administration John Oxley Library for the interest of the history of Russian migration into Australia.
    Greetings Radojko Babic

  5. checheva irina

    We know about Russian diasporas in USA, Canada and Europ. And now such enigmatic a distant country as Australia became closer to usdue to Natalia. i have my own interest in this matter because i want to hold measures for children and to get more information is very useful for me. the children will be greitly interested in the life of Russian people abroad.
    From Russia with love.

  6. JOL Admin

    Thanks for your interest Mr Babic. Slavic people have played an interesting and significant role Queensland’s history and we do have collection items relating to people who came to Queensland from the area of the former Yugoslavia.

    Thankyou also Mrs Checheva. Queensland must seem very distant to people living in Russia. Just imagine what it was like coming here in the past. The diaries that our volunteer Nataliya Samokhina has translated recently provide an interesting insight into a Russian family’s journey here in the 1920s.

  7. Nataliya

    Dear Elodie,
    Thank you very much for your comment. It is really important for me to know that there are plenty of people who are interested in the history of the Russian community in Qeensland.
    Nataliya Samokhina

  8. damien trinkler

    hi my name is Damien i would like to speak to a Russian family here in Australia as i would like to study Russian language i have ancestors and lost family in Russia my phone no is 02 65507611 needing help to locate families in Australia hoping you can guide me to any links regards

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