Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Marriage and War

Catherine was married at age 15 to her cousin, the wealthy aristocrat Boris de Hueck. During the First World War while her new husband was an officer with the engineering corps, Photo: Catherine as nurse in the Russian ArmyCatherine volunteered as a nurse to the Czar's troops on the German front and was decorated for bravery under fire.

Later she witnessed firsthand the Bolshevik take-over of her beloved city of St. Petersburg. She and Boris escaped Communist Russia, fleeing first to a family summer house in Finland, where they nearly starved to death at the hands of Communists, before being liberated by White Russian soldiers. Catherine and Boris went to Scotland, then England. In 1921, the couple, by then penniless, travelled to Canada where their son, George, was born.

Catherine worked at what menial jobs she could find, to support her infant son and her husband, who was in frail health. She laboured as a laundress, a maid, a sales clerk, and a waitress, working first in Canada, then relocating alone to New York City in order to find work. After a time, she found a well-paying position as a lecturer, criss-crossing North America to give lectures and working out of New York City as an executive with a literary agency there.

Photo: Catherine with her son George and dogMeanwhile Boris, who had been trained as an architectural engineer in Russia, managed to form his own company in Montreal. Catherine relocated to Montreal to rejoin her husband and son, but Boris' company went bankrupt in the Great Depression. Their relationship deteriorated and finally completely unravelled as a result of Boris' abusive treatment of Catherine and his adultery. Finally, aware that no reconciliation and family life was possible, Catherine and Boris went their separate ways. They were later divorced and their marriage was annulled by the Catholic Church.

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Related publications

For more information about this stage of Catherine's life, we recommend the books:

CoverFragments of My Life: A Memoir
by Catherine Doherty

CoverTumbleweed: A Biography of Catherine Doherty
by Eddie Doherty

CoverThe Life of Catherine Doherty
by Mary Bazzett

PDF Catherine Doherty Biography (PDF, 132 KB)
— a printable pamphlet.

Click here for a list of books by Catherine Doherty

Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate