Books show Old Order Mennonite culture from the inside

By Barb Draper | Books & Resources Editor
Yatton, Ont.
Called to Be a Soldier, by Darrell Frey.

Amsey Martin, an Old Order Mennonite deacon and long-time parochial school teacher, loves books. While most people in his community are farmers, he says that sitting in his study surrounded by books is “a dream come true.”

The idea of making a book has also appealed to him, and when a writer from his Old Order community asked him to publish some of her stories, he was ready to take up the challenge. Vineyard Publications, which produces books “by the plain people for the plain people,” has now been around for more than 10 years and has published more than 30 books.

The goal of Vineyard Publications is to provide wholesome reading material for those who have old-fashioned morals. Many of the books are designed for children, to reinforce the values of the Old Order Mennonite community.

The Vineyard catalogue identifies Ruth, Girl of the Conestoga and Joy in the Valley as books for youth. The books portray the everyday life of Ruth Weber, a girl in her late teens who lives and works in the Conestoga River Valley including the village of Hawkesville. Unlike typical Amish romances, these books are true-to-life for the Old Order community. Readers will get a genuine view of Old Order culture and beliefs from the inside.

Called to be a Soldier is another book recently published by Vineyard. It describes the experiences of Old Order Mennonite conscientious objectors at Alternative Service camps in the 1940s. Author Darrell Frey provides a great deal of information, especially regarding the Montreal River Camp in Ontario. He also includes copies of letters, documents and lists of COs from Ontario who served in the camps. Frey’s writing style could be described as creative non-fiction, as he anchors his story in facts but is creative in his storytelling.

Vineyard books are available in local small-town Ontario stores owned by conservative Mennonites, including Busy Bee Quilts in Elmira. Vineyard Publications, located in Yatton, does not use the Internet, but its books can be ordered online through Living Water Christian Bookstore ( in Linwood.

See also “Poetry, paintings bring Old Orders to life. 

Called to Be a Soldier, by Darrell Frey.

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