of Alberta

  1. Mennonite Society of Calgary

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    Mennonite Society of Calgary

    Accession 2023.005

    Title and Physical Description

    Mennonite Society of Calgary, 1991-2006, 51 cm of textual records, 1 compact disc, 10 floppy discs.

    Administrative and Biographical History

    The Mennonite Society of Calgary was incorporated in 1996.  The objective of the society was to develop a multi-faceted residential community, anchored around Mennonite/Anabapist sociology and philosophy, to serve the needs of mature adults in Calgary.  A Steering Committee was appointed which developed a plan of action and initiated a search for a suitable plot of land in or around Calgary.   After several unsuccessful efforts to acquire suitable land, a 14.7 acre plot of land just outside the north-west city limits of Calgary was acquired in 2005.  It was to be held by anew corporation, MSC Land Corporation which was registered as  Alberta Company 1196679.   There were, however, problems in securing an appropriate connection for sewage disposal.  That resulted in abandonment of the plan, selling of the land, and dissolution of the organization.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of organizational files, minutes, correspondence and supporting documents of membership, Board of Directors and Annual meetings,  Also included are subject files providing relevant information about similar institutions and technical/engineering aspects of the proposed project.  The fonds includes the minutes of some of the directors’ meetings of  Alberta Company 1196679 but not on the sale of the land or the dissolution of the company.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Mennonite Central Committee, Alberta, in whose offices the records were stored after dissolution of the Society.

    File List

    Administrative/Governance files

    1.1 Early planning, 1990-1991
    1-2 Early housing initiatives, 1993-1995
    1-3 Membership meetings, 1996
    1-4 Constitution, By-laws, Prospectus, 1996
    1-5 Minutes and supporting documentation of the Steering Committee, 1996-1997
    1-6 Membership Lists, 1997-1998
    1-7 Annual Meeting, 1997
    1-8 Board Meetings, 1997
    1-9 Annual Meeting, 1998
    1-10 Board Meetings, 1998
    1-11 Annual Meeting, 1998
    1-12 Board Meetings, 1998
    1-13 Annual Meeting, 1999
    1-14 Board Meetings, 2000
    1-15 Annual Meeting, 2001
    1-16 Board Meetings, 2001
    1-17 Annual Meeting, 2002
    1-18 Board Meetings, 2002
    2-19 Board Meetings, 2003
    2-20 Annual Meeting, 2004
    2-21 Board Meetings, 2004
    2-22 Annual Meeting, 2005
    2-23 Board Meetings, 2005
    2-24 Special Membership Meetings, 2005
    2-25 Annual Meeting, 2006

    Subject Files

    2-26 Condominium Property Amendment Act, 1896
    2-27 Incorporation, Registration, Reports to government agencies, 1996-2006
    2-28 MSC expenses, 1996-1999
    2-29 Canadian Forces Base lands information
    2-30 Bethany Care Society information
    2-31 Information from comparable societies  and news reports, 1993-2007
    3-32 West citadel plans, 2000
    3-33 12 Mile Coulee Road site information, 2005
    3-34 12 Mile Coulee Road offer to purchase, 2005
    3-35  12 Mile Coulee Road Development Plans, 2005
    3-36 12 Mile Coulee Road, Friesen-Tokar architects, 2004
    3-37 12 Mile Coulee Road, CMHC Project Development Funding, 2004
    3-38 12 Mile Coulee Road, Calgary Annexation, 2005
    3-39 Brian P.  Enns, lawyer, 2005-2006
    3-40 Directors and Officers liability insurance, 2005
    3-41 Clifton N D Lee engineering, 2005
    3-42 Letters of Intent, Mennonite Land Corp/Alberta 1196679, 2005
    3-43 MSC/Alberta 1196679 Option/Agreement to purchase, 2005.
    3-44 MSC/Alberta 1196679  Board of Directors, 2005
    3-45 MSC/Alberta 119679 Request for CRA Business number, 2005
    3-46 Sewage Disposal Technical information, 2004
    3-47 1 /cd and 10 floppy discs containing minutes and correspondence (out of date programs)



  2. Frieda Claassen fonds

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    Accession 2023.010

    Title and Physical Description

    Frieda Claassen fonds. – 1949. – 1 cm. – songbook snd explanatory note

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Frieda (Prochnau) Claassen was born in Deutsch Wymyschle, Poland, the daughter of Daniel Prochnau and Wanda (Penner) Prochnau.  Together with other family members, Frieda, fled to Germany in 1945 as refugees.  In 1948-49 they lived in a refugee camp at Schuetzenhoff, Gronau, Westfalen, West Germany.  Worship services, including a choir, were organized and multiple sheets of music were prepared, using number notations rather than notes.  Frieda collected some of these and her father bound them together using material from an old suitcase for the covers.
    The Prochnau family emigrated to Canada in 1949 where Frieda married Hans Claassen in 1952.  They lived in Edmonton.  Frieda donated the song-book, together, with an explanatory note, to the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society in 2023.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of a bound volume of sheets of religious songs with numerical notations,  together with a brief explanatory note on Frieda’s experiences and the creation and use of the songbook in the refugee camp.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donation to the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta by Frieda Claassen



  3. Peter A. Neufeld fonds

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    Peter A. Neufeld fondsAccession 2023.009

    Title and Physical Description

    Peter A. Neufeld fonds. – 1970. – 2 photographs

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Peter A. Neufeld was born 2 August 1905 at Didsbury, Alberta, the son of Abram C. Neufeld and Elizabeth (Heinrichs) Neufeld.  They moved to Didsbury when they retired in 1967 and opened an MCC Depot in the basement of their house and in one half of the garage in 1967.  There they stored MCC fabric for layettes and quilts and received, washed, sorted clothes, doing many minor repairs,  and replacing very many zippers.  Beginning on 11 May 1970 they packed 600 lbs of clothing.  On 16 July 1970 they shipped 1000 lbs of cleaned, sorted and repaired cloths to Yarrow, British Columbia.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of two photographs, one showing the interior of the Neufeld garage with Peter A. Neufeld, Abram A. Neufeld, and John A. Neufeld, and the second photograph shows them loading the truck headed for Yarrow, B. C.

    Source of Acquisition

    Gift by Alma Hildebrand, daughter of Peter A. Neufeld.


    Accession 2023.009

  4. John Heidebrecht fonds

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    Accession 2023.008

    Title and Physical Description

    John Heidebrecht fonds. – ca. 1942-943. – 9 photographs

    Administrative/biographical History

    John Heidebrecht was born 15 May 1918, at Grishkovka, Altayskiy Kray, Russia, the son of David Heidebrecht and Margaret (Epp) Heidebrecht.  The family immigrated to Canada in 1929, settling near Tofield, Alberta.  During World War II John Heidebrecht served as a Conscientious Objector in the Seebe camp and perhaps also in other camps.  He died in Edmonton on 28 August 1974.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of nine photographs including group photographs of conscientious objectors, logging,  dynamite and road/railway construction work.

    Source of Acquisition

    Gift by Irene Enns, daughter of John Heidebrecht


    Accession 2023.008
    See also Henry D Goerzen fonds Conscientious Objector collection

  5. Johann R. Toews fonds

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    Accession 2022.012 

    Title and Physical Description

    Johann R. Toews fonds. –  1984-1993. – 3 cm of textual records 

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Johann R. Toews was born at Steinbach on April 1, 1881, the son of Peter Toews and Elizabeth Reimer.  He married his cousin, Anna B. Reimer, daughter of Abraham Reimer and Elizabeth Remple, on 19 November 1905.  They lived, worked and farmed in the Steinbach area of Manitoba and became the parents and grandparents of many children and grandchildren.  Marie, one of Johann and Anna Toews’ daughters, married Bernhard Kroeker.

    Custodial History

    These items were part of a larger collection of various books and publications which staff in the MCC Thrift Store identified as being of possible historical value.  No record of who donated the material to the Thrift Store was provided.

    Scope and Content

    This fonds contains genealogical information gathered at Johann and Anna (Reimer) Toews and Peter B. and Elizabeth D. Kroeker family reunions, an obituary of a member of the Kroeker family, and an autobiographical manuscript written by a great-grandson as a teenager.

    File List

    1. Coil bound copy of a manuscript entitled “The Descendants of Johann R. Toews & Anna B. Reimer.”
    2. Coil bound copy of a manuscript entitled, “Peter B. Kroeker Family Directory,” written in 1984, together with a newspaper account ofthe family reunion held on 1 July 1984.
    3. Obituary for John Dueck Kroeker, 1906-1984.
    4. Autobiographical manuscript entitled “The Life and Times of Nathaniel Moll,” written in 1993 when Nathaniel Moll was tghirteen years old. He is the son of David and Marieanne (Kroeker) Moll and a great-grandson of Johann and Anna (Reimer) Toews.  In the manuscript he writes, among other things, about his mixed Mennonite and Jewish heritage
  6. Eugene Janzen fonds

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    Accession 2022.015

    Title and Physical Description

    Eugene Janzen fonds,. – 18 cm of textual records. – 1 memory stick

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Eugene Janzen was born in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, the son of Jacob P. Janzen and Frieda Epp.  His father served as Conscientious Objector in Canadian Alternative Service work camps in 1942.

    Eugene Janzen earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972.  He served as a Professor of Veterinary Medicine, first at the University of Saskatchewan and then at the University of Calgary.  He has an interest in family history, including his father’s wartime service, and in the family’s genealogy.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of the large, very unique, extensively illustrated family Bible of Eugene Janzen’s grandparents, Peter J. Janzen and Maria (Martens) Janzen.  In addition to Martin Luther’s German translation, this large family Bible contains numerous coloured and black and white pictures and illustrations, maps, tabulations, and extensive explanatory and background articles pertaining to biblical times.   Also included  in the Bible are genealogical records of the Peter J. Janzen and Maria (Martens) Janzen family.
    The fonds also includes a booklet and memory stick containing  photocopies and English translations of letters Jacob Peter Janzen (Eugene Janzen’s father) wrote while serving as a Conscientious Objector in alternative service camps in Banff National Park.  Almost all of these letters were written in the cursive Gothic German script.  Peter Janzen served in several camps in Banff National Park, including the Seebe camp.   The letters were written in 1942.
    Also included in the fonds are 1. a large undated genealogical chart of Frieda Epp, Eugene Janzen’s mother, 2. a 1982 published obituary of Jacob P. Janzen, 3. an undated handwritten short biography of Jacob G. Epp, and 4. an undated published manuscript entitled “Historical Sketch of our Mennonite People’s Trek from Russia to Canada and early development in the new land” written by Jacob J. Epp.

    Source of Acquisition

    Gift by Eugene Janzen
















  7. John Abram Heidebrecht fonds

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    Accession 2022.005

    Title and Physical Description

    John Abram Heidebrecht fonds,. – 1927-1983. –  1 cm of textual records

    Administrative/Biographical History

    John Abram Heidebrecht was born 27 July 1891 in Klippenstein, Molotschna settlement, the son of Abram and Katharina (Koehn).  He married Katharina Penner, daughter of David and Wilhelmina (Friesen) Penner in 1914.  They  immigrated to Canada in 1925 and lived in several communities near Tofield, Alberta, before buying land southwest of Tofield in 1939.  They were founding members of the Tofield Mennonite Church where John served as a leader of congregational singing (Vorsaenger).  Katharine was a skilled seamstress.  John Heidebrecht died in Tofield on 24 January 1959,  Katharina died on 1 July 1973.

    Scope and Content

    This is a small, somewhat eclectic, collection of documents which includes some genealogical information, immigration and citizenship papers, a small collection of letters in cursive Gothic German script which the family received from relatives who had remained in the Soviet Union, signed but undated Alberta Citizens’ Registration Covenants which were promoted by the Social Credit government of Alberta, and a Rural Electrification contract.  Also included is a transcribed hymn book in the cursive Gothic script using numbers rather than notes, in four-part harmony.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Darryl Heidebrecht, grandson of John and Katharine (Penner) Heidebrecht.

    File List

    1. Heidebrecht and Penner families genealogical information.
    2. Heidebrecht family immigration and citizenship papers
    3. Letters received from relatives in the Soviet Union.
    4. Alberta Citizens’ Registration Covenant and Rural Electrification contract.
    5. Hymn book contained transcribed copies of hymns written in the cursive Gothic German script with musical notations using numbers rather than notes.


  8. Johann Wichert fonds

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    Accession 2023.006

    Title and Physical Description

    Johann Wichert fonds. – 1956. –  1.5 cm of textual records

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Johann J. Wichert, minister and elder, was born 1 October 1897 in Mariawohl, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, Russia, the son of Jacob and Maria (Peters) Wichert.  He received his elementary education in Mariawohl, his secondary education in Gnadenfeld, and his teacher training in the University of Kharkov, completing his formal education in 1914.  He taught in Mariawohl (1915-16) and Rudnerweide (1917-22), where he was baptized by Elder David Nickel in 1918.  He married Lydia Koop on 20 August 1944.
    Wichert migrated to Waterloo, Ontario in 1925.  He was ordained as minister on 20 May 1928 and as elder on 3 September 1944.  He served the Vineland United Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ontario, as minister from 1927 and as elder from 1944 to 1966, and remained active as a member of that church until his death on 12 November 1983.  He was an outstanding teacher and a member of numerous conference committees.  Together with Lydia, he also served Mennonite immigrants in Europe in 1947 under the Mennonite Central Committee.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of a revised manuscript containing a series of questions and detailed answers based on the Mennonite catechism used by the Conference of Mennonites in Canada at that time.  Wichert regarded the catechism as a general guide, but added much explanatory and interpretive information.   He compiled the manuscript after years of catechism instruction during the time when he served as elder.  It  documents the thinking, understanding and interpretation of  Mennonite theology at those times, and provides insights into what Mennonite young people, at least those in the Vineland United Mennonite Church and other churches affiliated with the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, were taught.
    Wichert submitted an early version of the manuscript to the Education and Publications board of the conference of Mennonites in Canada in July of 1955.  It was reviewed and parts of it were revised, mainly by adding additional scripture references.  In 1956, in anticipation of possible publication, the revised manuscript was made available for further constructive criticism and corrections.  It was never published, but provides insights into the thinking and teaching of an influential Mennonite leader.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Ted Regehr.

  9. Glick, Ike and Millie fonds

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    Title and Physical Description

    Glick, Ike and Millie fonds. – 1955-2020,. – 1.3 m of textual records. – 6 compact discs. – 2 audiocassettes,. – 1 photographic film strip

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Ike Glick was born 30 August 1928 at home near Smoketown, Pennsylvania, the son of Daniel and Lillian Glick.  The family’s home church was a Beachy Amish Church near Bird-in-hand, where services were still in German.  Ike attended the local school and the Lancaster Mennonite High School.  Education beyond high school was not valued, even considered dangerous by the leadership, so Ike transferred to a Mennonite congregation when he decided to to to Eastern Mennonite College (Now Eastern Mennonite University) where he earned BA and Th.B degrees.  In 1955, shortly after his marriage to Millie Ager, Ike and Millie came to northern Alberta as Voluntary Service workers.  In Alberta they became members of the Alberta-Saskatchewan Mennonite Church.  Ike subsequently earned MA and Ph. D. degrees at the University of Alberta.  His MA thesis, “An Analysis of “The Human Resources Develoment” in Alberta” focused on a program that became popular in the final years of the Social Credit government in Alberta.  His Ph. D. thesis in Education Psychology examined “Factors of Community Well-Being as identified by Residents of a Resource Town.”

    Millie Glick was born 11 October 1930 at home near Broadway, Virginia, the daughter of John and Anna Alger.  She grew up and became a member of the  Zion Congregation near Broadway, Virginia. attended Eastern Mennonite High School and one year at Eastern Mennonite College.  After coming to northern Alberta with her husband, Ike Glick, as a Voluntary Service worker, she took writing courses at the University of Alberta while a homemaker, and wrote  and published poetry and children’s stories in the United States and Canada.

    Ike and Milie Glick came from the United States to northern Alberta in 1955 as Voluntary Service workers.  They were appointed by the Board of Missions and Charities in Elkhart, Indiana, and worked in partnership with the Alberta-Saskatchewan Mennonite Church, later renamed the Northwest Mennonite Conference.  The objective was to provide teachers in organized school districts which had difficulty finding qualified teachers; develop experimental garden plots to interest local people in producing some of their own food; give instructions in processing food; teach sewing to the girls and women; provide public health nursing services; organize craft and recreational programs; and provide religious instruction through Sunday Schools, Bible studies and religious worship services.

    Custodial History

    The fonds consists of original records of the Voluntary Service program, created and donated to the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta by Ike and Millie Glick.  Ike served as Director of the Voluntary Service program from 1955 to 1965.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds can be divided into four separate parts.

    The first contains the extensive correspondence and reports, mainly between Ray Horst, Director of Voluntary Service of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities whose office was located in Elkhart, Indiana, and Ike Glick, the senior Voluntary Service worker administrato in northern Alberta,

    The second part of the fonds consists of  correspondence and reports, again mainly between Ray Horst and Ike Glick, but pertaining to specific Voluntary Service units or programs.  The first Voluntary Service Unit in northern Alberta was established at Callling Lake in 1955.  New units were subsequently established in Sandy Lake, Chipewyan Lake, Anzac, Imperial Mills, and Robb/Marboro, all in Alberta.  Some voluntary service workers, mainly tachers and health care workers, continued to work in northern Alberta communities after their terms of service as Voluntary Service workers ended.  There was close collaboration with a local businesman, government, educational and health care officials.  Also included are reports publsihed in newspapers, periodicals and in-house voluntary service publications.

    The third part of the fonds consists of records of Team Products which was  established to market aboriginal and Metis arts, crafts and food products.  Voluntary Service workers encouraged aboriginal arts, crafts and the processing of northern foods, but quickly learned that promotion of the items required development of markets in which these items could be sold.  So, in 1964 Ike established and became program director of Team Products, a non-government, non-church sponsored organization for marketing handicrafts of aboriginals and people of aboriginal ancestry.  Federal and provincial government grants of up to $100,000 over a three year period were obtained.  Team Products established its first retail outlet in Edmonton in 1965 and made contacts with numerous other potential buyers and retailers.  Native artists in the several communities served by Mennonite voluntary service workers were then encouraged to produce high quality Muk Luk boots, moccasins, leather gloves, jackets, minature canoes, snowshoes, carvings and numerous smaller items.  The longer-term objective was to train and then transfer all Team Canada operations to local aboriginal people.
    In addition to aboriginal and Metis arts and crafts, Team Products also marketed processed northern berry products.  Children at the unique Anzac school, and others, were encouraged to pick and prepare jams, jellies and other berry products.   “Meensa,” the Cree word for berries, was the name under which Team Products marketed these berry products.

    The fourth part consists of 1  film strip with commentary, 6 compact discs, 2 cassettes, pertaining mainly to Voluntary Service work and VS reunions.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Ike Glick

    Finding Aid

    Part 1. The fonds can be divided into three separate parts.  The first contains the extensive correspondence and reports, mainly between Ray Horst, Director of Voluntary Service of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities whose office was located in Elkhart, Indiana, and Ike Glick, the senior Voluntary Service worker administrator in northern Alberta.

    Box 1
    1-1 Letters from Elkhart, 1955-1956
    1-2 Letters to Elkhart, 1955-1956
    1-3 Letters from Elkhart, 1957
    1-4 Letters to Elkhart, 1957.
    1-5 Letters from Elkhart, 1958
    1-6 Letters to Elkhart, 1958.
    1-7 Letters from Elkhart, 1959.
    1-8 Letters to Elkhart, 1959.
    1-9 Letters from Elkhart, 1960.
    1-10 Letters to Elkhart, 1960.
    1-11 Letters from Elkart, 1961
    1-12 Letters to Elkhart, 1961
    1-13 Letters from Elkhart, 1962.
    1-14 Letters to Elkhart, 1962
    1-15 Letters from Elkhart, 1963,
    1-16 Letters to Elkhart, 1963.

    Box 2
    2-17 Letters from Elkhart, 1964.
    2-18 Letters to Elkhart, 1964.
    2-19 Letters from Elkhart, 1965.
    2-20 Letters to Elkart, 1965.
    2-21 Letters to and from Elkhart, 1966-1973.
    2-22 Correspondence, reports re Voluntary Service and Missions programs. 1965-1871.
    2-23 Ike Glick letter re Service and Evangelization, 1966.

    Part 2. The second part of the fonds consists of  correspondence and reports, again mainly between Ray Horst and Ike Glick, but pertaining to specific Voluntary Service units or programs.

    2-24 Calling Lake Monthly Reports, 1955-1958.
    2-25 Calling Lake Annual Reports, 1956-1957.
    2-26 Calling Lake “Beginings,” 1956.
    2-27 Calling Lake Community Meetings,m 1965-1966.
    2-28 Calling Lake, “Evergreen” Yearbook, 1966/67.
    2-29 Calling Lake, Nursing Services 1956-1970.
    2-30 Mobile Medical Unit, 1963-1965.
    2-31 Sandy Lake, 1957-1960.
    2-32 Chipewyan Lake, 1959-1964, 1988.

    Box 3
    3-33 Anzac, 1959-1964.
    3-34 Marlboro, 1960-1965.
    3-35 Imperial Mills, 1963-1964.
    3-36 Alberta Map showing locations of VS units and ex-VS workers.
    3-37 Kindergarten at Calling Lake and Marlboro, 1963-1966.
    3-38 Northern School  Division Correspondence, 1962-1963.
    3-39 Athabaska Chamber of Commers and Kiwanis.
    3-40 Alberta Voluntary Service Newsletters, 1962-1967.
    3-41 Articles/Reports by Ike Glick on “Helping.”
    3-42 Agape, Voluntary Service Newsletters, 1955-1961.
    3-43 Agape, Voluntary Service Newsletters, 1960-1966.
    3-44 Mennonite Periodical and Newspaper reports.
    3-45 Alberta Voluntary Service Workers reunion, 1985.
    3-46 Alberta Voluntary Service Workers reunion, 2006.
    3-47 Alberta Voluntary Service Workers retreat, 2013.

    Part 3.  The third part contains the records of Team Products, established to promote and manage the amrketing of aboriginal and Metis arts and handicrafts and of berry products marketed under the trade name of “Meensa,” the Cree word for berries.  Team Products files dealing with the marketing of northern Alberta aboriginal and Metis arts and handicrafts are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, company or agency.  “Meensa” material is contained in subject files.

    Box 4

    4-48 Pamphlet “Native Handicrafts in Perspective,” by Ike Glick, 1975
    4-49 Team Products, Correspondence and Reports, A-J.
    4-50 Team Products, Correspondence and Reports, K-S (T-Z missing)
    4-51 Meensa -First Year, 1964.
    4-52 Meensa – Small Fruit Survey, Northern Alberta
    4-53 Meensa – Anzac Berry Co-op, 1964-1965,
    4-54 Meensa – Anzac Berry Co-op, 1966-1968.
    4-55 Meensa – Wild fruit, bulletins, correspondence, invoices 1964-1966.
    4-56 Meensa – Berry recipes
    4-57 Meensa – Published information.
    4-58 Meensa – Newspaper clippings.

    Part 4 Placed in Accession 2021.014, Box 4.

    -1 film strip with commentary about Voluntary Service, 2 cassettes on the 1985 reunion of Voluntary Service workers

    -1 CD marked “Glick slides ’50s – 60s”

    -1 CD marked “Suter VS Anzac 1965”

    -2 CDs marked “VS Reunion 2006”

    -1 CD marked “Ray Horst, given by Paul Nafziger”

    -2 cassettes marked “VS Reunion 1985.”

    “Teamed with Purpose” Film strip – a 90 frame color filmstrip in photography with a 16-minute narration written by Millie Glick, and produced by the Mennonite Boardof Missions and Charities, Elkhart, Indiana.


  10. Johann Peters fonds

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    Accession 2022.007

    Title and Physical Description

    Johann Peters fonds. –  1857. –  17 pages of textual records

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Johann Peters was a member of the Chortitza Mennonite Agricultural Association.  His family had migrated from Prussia to Russia in 1806 when Johann Peters was only ten years old.  As an adult he became a prominent and influential community leader.   When the Chairman of the Guardians’ Committee of the Foreign Colonists visited the Chortitza Mennonite settlement, Peters was asked him to write a history of the establishment and subsequent experiences of  the pioneer settlers.  It was to be based on available documents, Peters’ personal knowledge and familiarity with many of the original pioneers, and his own experiences and observations.

    Custodial History

    The location of the original version of this report, written by Johann Peters, and the person who prepared this typewritten copy of the report, have not been documented.  This copy of the report, which provides much interesting information about the early history of the Chortitiza settlement, was part of  Walter Quiring’s library which was purchased by Ted Regehr shortly before Walter Quiring moved from Canada to Germany.  It was donated by Ted Regehr to the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta in 2022.

    Scope and Content

    Peters responded to the request of the Chairman of the Guardians’ Committee with a 13 page report to which he attached a copy of the Charter of Privileges (Privilegium) granted to the Mennonites by Tsar Paul I in 1800.  While not one of the original pioneer settlers, Peters knew many of the most prominent members of that generation and was actively involved in the subsequent, often very difficult, efforts to establish a prosperous community.  In his report Peters first discusses the circumstances which prompted Tsarina Katharina II to invite foreign settlers to colonize former Turkish territories taken by Russia during the Seven Years’ War.  He describes the work, difficulties and controversies encountered by Mennonite community leaders, many of whom Peters knew personally.  His report focuses more on the economic, and specifically agricultural challenges, rather than on church-related developments.  In addition to economic and environmental problems, the early settles also had to content with hostilities by some of the local people.  Several instances of robberies and hostilities by local inhabitants are documented.
    The report, written in German in 1857, ends on optimistic and patriotic notes.  Peters describes the situation at the time the report was written thus:   “All the dangers, difficulties and obstacles against which our fathers fought are now in the past.  We have gained a love of our new Fatherland and live happily and satisfied under the mighty protection of our country’s esteemed and beloved father, and under the wise administration of high authorities.  We now enjoy in peace the golden fruits which have been brought forth and  have ripened so gloriously as a result of the sacrifices, suffering and dangers of our elders.  We bless the decision which led them to Russia, and respectfully praise God’s provisions which have made all things so good.”

    Source of Acquisition

    Gift by Ted Regehr.