Mennonite history

Wanner Mennonite Church

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

This photograph shows Wanner Mennonite Church at worship in July 1950. In the mid-20th century, it was a new pattern for many Ontario Mennonite congregations to have men and women sitting together in a worship service rather than men on one side and women on the other. What is your congregation’s “social geography?” Who sits where? Why do you think this is?

David Klassen

(Photo: The Canadian Mennonite/ Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

David Klassen of Rosenfeld, Manitoba, age 83, poses for an informal portrait at a family reunion. The photo is from a 1955 article in The Canadian Mennonite, which frequently published articles about family reunions and wedding anniversaries as matters of wider interest to the Mennonite community.

A blended family

(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

In December 1924, this family was starting a new life in more ways than one. Katharina (Enns Rempel) and Jacob P. Braun, both widowed, separately emigrated from the Soviet Union to Ontario. A few weeks after their arrival, they were married in the Waterloo region. Here the newly blended family prepares to move from the home of their first Ontario Mennonite hosts.

Art gallery nurtures connections with the past

“Gate to the Past” by Renate Dau Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

Marjorie Wall Hofer admires Leah Klassen’s painting “In the Garden.” (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

“Memory of Home” by Martin Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

An art gallery lines the hallway between the sanctuary and the auditorium of the Niagara United Mennonite Church near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The art hanging there reminds viewers of God’s guidance through difficult times, including separation, loss and escape.

Peter J. Dyck

(Photo by Central Photographic)

Peter J. Dyck was recognized with an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo on Oct. 18, 1974. Dyck was born in 1914 and immigrated with his family to a farm near Laird, Saskatchewan, in 1927. During World War II, he and his wife, Elfrieda were part of the MCC work in Europe helping refugees emigrate. Dyck studied and served as a pastor in the U.S.

Walnut Receiving Home

(Photo: Conference of Mennonites in Canada, Native Ministries)

In 1976, Jake and Trudy Unrau bought a home at 171 Walnut Street in Winnipeg and opened it up for Indigenous people visiting Winnipeg for medical appointments. In 1977, the Conference of Mennonites in Canada bought the home, and the Walnut Receiving Home became part of its ministry.

Menno House

(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Menno House was formed by a group of young Mennonite students and recent graduates living in Toronto in 1956. The aim was to provide support and community to Mennonite students in the city. The group became involved in youth leadership at Toronto United Mennonite Church. Young Mennonite women attended events, though the residence remained open only to men.

Mennonite Men of Canada

(Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

By 1961, men’s groups in General Conference churches had proliferated to the point where a national organization, “Mennonite Men of Canada,” was formed. Here, in 1962, are executive members Henry M. Dick (Calgary), Carl Ens (Saskatoon) and Ted Friesen (Altona, Manitoba). Men’s groups met for fellowship, service projects and to run boys’ clubs.

Vineland List

(Photo: Vineland United Mennonite Church / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

How much can we learn from a list? This image is from a list of Mennonite immigrants from the Soviet Union (Russlaender) living in Vineland, Ont., in 1924. We can see family groupings along with church affiliations. In these early years, Mennonite Brethren and United Mennonites worshipped together. We can also note their housing situation, with many living on the farms of their employer.

Gilbert Snider

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Gilbert Snider stokes his wood-fed, maple-syrup evaporator in rural Waterloo County in 1954. The photographer, David L. Hunsberger, took many photos of working life in Ontario’s Waterloo Region. How much do you know about the working lives of your fellow churchgoers?

CMC Yearbooks

(Photo: Conrad Stoesz)

The Konferenz der Mennoniten in Canada—now Mennonite Church Canada—was formed in 1902. In 1928, the conference started publishing an official Jahrbuch (yearbook) which documented proceedings and decisions at the annual gatherings.

Gift for the Queen

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger/Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Fifty years ago, in June 1973, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Waterloo region. What gift could she be given to represent the area? These two bronze figures of an Old Order couple by Waterloo artist Renie Ellis were chosen. At the time, Mennonites constituted about 10 percent of the area’s population.

Maria Kroeker

(Photo: Peter Kroeker Photo Collection)

In 1893, Maria Kroeker married Johann Neufeld in Reinland, Man. The couple moved to Lost River, Sask. in 1911. Then, in 1926, when the Saskatchewan government insisted that Mennonite children attend government schools, Maria and Johann moved their 11 children to Paraguay, where they helped establish the village of Bergthal.

Vernon Ratzlaff in Eqypt

(Photo: Linda Herr, MCC photo collection)

Vern Ratzlaff, centre, worked much of his life within Mennonite institutions in western Canada and internationally, serving as a church pastor, Bible school teacher and radio preacher. From 1982 to 1987, Vern and his wife Helen served as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representatives in Egypt.


(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

There is a lot to take in on this photomontage of the Mennonite Brethren Church Choir from Badamsha, Kazakhstan—in Soviet parlance, a “closed city”—in 1971.

Queen in Manitoba

(Photo: Gerald Loewen)

In 1970, the province of Manitoba celebrated its 100th birthday, and celebrations included a visit by the queen and her family. Among the many stops and events in July was a visit to the town of Steinbach, and the Milltown Hutterite Colony, near Elie.

Amish bicentennial

(Photo: Christian and Annie Bender Collection / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

You are looking at one of the oldest original photographs in the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, likely taken in 1867. The father and daughter are John (or Jean) and Anna (“Annie”) Kennel. John was an Amish immigrant from France, like many of the first Amish settlers in Canada, who began arriving here 200 years ago.

J.J. Thiessen

(Photo: Heinrich M. Epp Fonds / Mennonite Heritage Archives)

“All beginnings are hard” said J.J. Thiessen. He began his public ministry in 1930 in Saskatoon, hired by the General Conference Mennonite Church to operate the Maedchenheim, helping young women find work and providing spiritual guidance, and to give leadership to the emerging congregation in Saskatoon.


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