Mennonite history

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Brubacher House opening

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Tea is served on the front porch of Brubacher House Museum at its opening in 1979. The University of Waterloo, Ont., acquired the house and land to expand its campus. In 1968, the house suffered a devastating fire, but it was rebuilt with the help of Mennonite craftsman Simeon Martin.

Carling Heights

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

This is the view that greeted Amish Mennonite farm boys Dan and Willie Brenneman when they were apprehended by military police and detained at the Carling Heights Military Camp in London, Ont. Despite their conscientious objector status, they were taken while working in a field in East Zorra Township in May 1918.

Shoplifting

Photo: MCC Ontario / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Under the watchful eye of a Kitchener, Ont., store owner, a teenager browses the record collection. Shortly, she will slip one into her bag, and the owner will catch her in the act of shoplifting.

UWinnipeg Fellowship to crack open KGB archives

The new fellowship is named in honour of the late Paul Toews, who was the resident historian of the Mennonite Heritage Cruise that took thousands of Mennonite “pilgrims” on a journey back to Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of University of Winnipeg)

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.

OK Economy Store

Katie Funk Wiebe Photo Collection / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

“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.

Singing off the wall

Photo courtesy of the United Church Publishing House / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

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.

‘Along the Road to Freedom’ exhibit tours Alberta

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)

Dave Toews, left, Edmonton exhibition and Alberta tour organizer for the Along the Road to Freedom exhibit, meets Lois Mitchell, Alberta’s lieutenant governor, right, at a private viewing and discussion at King’s University on Dec. 3, 2017. (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. 

Abraham Dick

Photo by Sarah Dyck, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

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.

Rabbit Lake church

Photo by C. F. Klassen, Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

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.

Microfilm

Photo: MB Herald Photography Collection, Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies

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.

Coaldale baptism

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.

Carwash

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

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.

A potluck plate full of Mennonite cultures

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)

Andrew Brown, left, stands with members of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission. (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

Photo by John Klassen, Mennonite Archives of Alberta

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.

Naomi Martin

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.

Mennonite ‘routes’ go deep

Photo by Dave Rogalsky

Photo by Dave Rogalsky

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.

Funk family goes to church

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.

Film-maker Allan Kroeker

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.

CO Bunkhouse

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.

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