of Alberta

Daughters in the City:

Mennonite Maids in Vancouver, 1931-1961 by Ruth Derksen Siemens; Sandra Borger

300_MaidsCoverIn the early 1930s, young Mennonite women—mostly adolescents—began to arrive in Vancouver, seeking work as domestic servants. Most had recently come to Canada as refugees from Russia, having escaped the terror of Stalin’s regime. Their desperate families owed a substantial debt to the Canadian Pacific Railway for their journey. Daughters in the City chronicles the remarkable stories of these young women and the hundreds who followed them in the next three decades. From archival records, interviews and historic photos, Ruth Derksen Siemens assembles the history of two Girls’ Homes (Mädchenheime) established to support and protect the working girls. These indomitable young single women were pioneers of their community: they broke through the barriers of the “evil city,” the English language and the upper-class British culture. Significantly, they shaped the settlement patterns of not only Vancouver, but also western Canada. With careful scholarship and fond respect, this book pays tribute to their impact and their long-lasting legacy