At the age of 85, I am probably one of the few survivors of the German occupation of Ukraine/Russia from 1941 to 1943 who still have clear personal memories of that time.
In the 1930s, thousands of Mennonites disappeared in the Soviet Union without a trace. The KGB archives in Ukraine has thousands of files on these missing Mennonites, and a newly announced University of Winnipeg Fellowship wants to crack into these archives to uncover the stories of lost relatives, ancestors and much more.
“In the spring of 1928, not quite 15 years after the settlement had begun, Jake Funk opened the new red-brick store on a prominent corner of Main Street in Blaine Lake, Sask.
The phrase “singing off the wall,” referring to singing from projected words rather than a hymn book, first appeared in Canadian Mennonite in 2010. This image shows that the practice went back much further. Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., recently donated a collection of glass “lantern slides” probably in use circa 1924-45.
Tim Wiebe-Neufeld stands beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells the story of Maria Friesen Neufeld, his great grandmother, one of the courageous Mennonite women who brought their families out of the hardships and terror of the Soviet Union in the early 1900s. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
Nettie Dueck, one of four Along the Road to Freedom committee members, travelled from Winnipeg to Edmonton to be at the opening program at King’s University in Edmonton. Dueck is standing beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells her mother’s story. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)
On Dec. 2, 2017, more than a hundred people gathered at Edmonton’s King’s University for the opening of the Along the Road to Freedom art exhibit. This was the first of three stops in Alberta that will end in the spring.
When Abraham Dick broke his back in 1938, the family struggled to keep up with the work on their farm near St. Agatha, Ont. Then one day in early November, they were surprised to hear the roar of tractors. Many neighbours had shown up unannounced to do the fall plowing.
Cooperatives allow community members to pool their economic resources and were quickly adopted in many Mennonite communities as a continuation of the Mennonite mutual-aid tradition.
The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church in Rabbit Lake, Sask., 1938. In 1941, 87 percent of Mennonites were rural dwellers. By 1971, the number crashed to 53 percent and has continued to decline. There has been a massive shift in Mennonite communities toward urbanization, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities.
An idea mixed with passion and solid financial support were the ingredients that combined for a great accomplishment. In 1977 and ’78, young Bill Reimer from Winnipeg set out with elder statesman J.B. Toews to cross North America in a truck and trailer microfilming congregational records.
This classic baptism photo from Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church has been incorrectly dated as from the 1940s. Dedicated volunteers, who have a long-standing passion for the history of the church and a long institutional memory, believed there was an error in the description. With some effort, they found two newspaper reports that gave the details of the event.
A 1978 car wash at Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, Man. Pictured, Don Wiens, right, soaks Adrienne Wiebe, left. Car washes, bake sales, quilt raffles, pie auctions, coffee houses, work days, cookbooks, and chocolate and cookie drives are methods that churches and church-related institutions have used to raise funds. There are so many good causes to financially support.
Henry Neufeld, right, spent a lifetime building positive relationships among Mennonite and indigenous peoples. He is pictured standing beside Pastor Jeremiah Ross from Cross Lake, Man., at a Conference of Mennonites in Canada (now Mennonite Church Canada) conference in Vancouver in 1981. In 1968, Neufeld was given permission to build a house and to live with the people of Little Grand Rapids.
During his internship, Andrew Brown, centre, happened to meet John Redekop, left, and Peter Redekop, right, who were part of a group of Mennonites Brown researched. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Brown)
This spring I was awarded an archival internship with the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission that allowed me to travel to various Mennonite Brethren archives in North America to learn how they work, as well as to do some of my own research.
Irene Klassen is pictured touring a sawmill at LaCrete, Alta., in September 2003, when the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta meeting was held in the northern Alberta town. The trip was almost a thousand kilometres, so it took a long day to get there. Participants were provided with a tour of the LaCrete Mennonite Heritage Village, the Heimstaed Lodge for seniors, and the sawmill.
In 1963, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches held its annual convention in Herbert, Sask. Here, dishes were washed by hand and, of course, re-used as other delegates waited in line.
Naomi Martin holds a book belonging to her late husband, Bishop J.B. Martin, at the family home in 1975. Archivists Lorna Bergey and Sam Steiner look on as she prepares to donate his books and papers to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. J.B.
Building of a light-rail transit system along the spine of Waterloo and Kitchener had to change focus in March 2016, when excavations in uptown Waterloo exposed the remains of a corduroy road. Archeologists are dating the road to the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was probably built by Mennonites, the original settlers in the area.
This is a photo of Mennonite writer Katie Funk Wiebe and her family driving to church circa 1940. Katie’s father, Jacob J. Funk, took the picture in front of Eigenheim Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan. Pictured from left to right: Jakie, Katie, mother Anna with her Sunday hat, Frieda, Annie and Susie. The Eigenheim church began services in 1892 and formally organized in 1894.
Do you enjoy the TV show Star Trek? If so, thank Allan Kroeker, who directed 39 episodes between 1996 and 2005. Kroeker continues to direct and this year is working on two projects. Kroeker began producing for Mennonite Brethren Communications in 1976, Mennonite Central Committee, and MBMSI. Kroeker grew up in Winnipeg, Man., and credits his grandfather A.A.
Second World War conscientious objectors (COs) were often sent to provincial parks for manual labour, as part of their alternative service assignments. This photo, taken between 1941-45, depicts Mennonite men getting dressed in their winter clothes around the warmth of a wood stove. Smoke from the stove, with laundry hanging from the rafters, can be seen in the background.
The poster for the conference, “Mennonites, Medicine and the Body: Health, Illness and Medical Research in the Past and Present,” held at Canadian Mennonite University in October 2015.
I had the privilege of participating in a conference this past weekend (Oct. 23, 24, 2015) at the University of Winnipeg hosted by Royden Loewen, the chair of Mennonite Studies. The theme was “Mennonites, Medicine, and the Body: Health, Illness and Medical Research in the Past and Present,” and it was a fascinating combination of medical, historical, literary, and theological perspectives.
Radio host Esther Horch interviews school children live on a Saturday morning broadcast of Children’s Party in 1958. This education and entertainment show for children aired daily on CFAM from Altona, Man. Founded in 1956 by Mennonite shareholders, CFAM could reach 90 percent of Manitoba’s population.
Mennonite Central Committee nurse Katherine Dyck poses with mothers and twins in Pusan, Korea, in 1956. Born in Russia in 1925, she immigrated to Rosthern, Sask., and worked as a nurse in Saskatchewan and Maryland before beginning service in Korea in 1953.