of Alberta

Irene Klassen fonds

Accession 2005.051 and 2009.003 (all filed with 2009.003). 2010.028 photographs (filed separately).  Accession 2023.002 (filed separately)

Title and Physical Description

Irene Klassen fonds. — 1990-2004. — 6.5 cm of textual records, 9 photographs, 2 plaques, 1 map

Administrative/Biographical History

Irene (Epp) Klassen was born in August 1924 in Ontario, second child of newly-immigrated David and Katharina (nee Unrau) Epp. From 1925 to 1930 they farmed at several Saskatchewan locations, the last one at Girvin and then they moved to Naco, Alberta. There the Neukirchner Mennoniten Gemeinde von Chinook-Sedalia was thriving, but soon also fell victim to the drought of the 1930s that caused many families to abandon their farms. The Epps remained and the situation did improve. Irene attended the local public and high school, finishing high school by correspondence. She went on to nursing school and graduated in May 1949 from the Calgary General Hospital with a Registered Nurse diploma. She nursed for a year at the Cereal Hospital, the latter half as a matron. In June 1950 she returned to Calgary and married John P. Klassen and they had four children. They were active members of First Mennonite Church where Irene was involved in many roles: Sunday School teacher, Secretary-Treasurer of the Sunday School, historian (since 1975), and editor of the  FMC Newsletter for 16 years. In addition, Irene was involved with Women in Mission locally and was President of the Alberta Women in Mission (1970-1975), Canadian representative on the General Conference Women in Mission (1983-1992), Chair of the local Women’s Inter-Church Council which organized World Day of Prayer. She has been a member of Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta since its inception and served as Secretary and Member at Large as well as active volunteer since the beginning of the Archives and Library in 2003. She wrote for various Mennonite periodicals including The MennoniteMennonite ReporterDer Bote, and others. She was the Alberta correspondent for the Mennonite Reporter until it became the Canadian Mennonite (1984-1996). Irene has written three books: Poesy & PonderingsPieces and Patches of my Crazy Quilt (2000), and Their Mark: Their Legacy(2007).    Irene Klassen died in Calgary on 2 January 2023

Scope & Content

The fonds consists of three series: A) People, B) Congregations, C) Photos from Their Mark.  Their Legacy

Source of Acquisition

Gift from Irene (Epp) Klassen, 2009

Access Restrictions

Access to personal information is subject to MHSA privacy policy and relevant legislation

Related Materials

For publications related to the fonds, see:

  • Klassen, Irene. (1999). Posey & Ponderings. Calgary: Author
  • Klassen, Irene. (2000). Pieces and Patches of my Crazy Quilt. Calgary: Author
  • Klassen, Irene. (2007). Their Mark: Their Legacy. Calgary: Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


Accession 2005.051 and 2009.003 (all filed with 2009.003, 2023.002
Last updated June 2023 – Ted Regehr
Revised June 2023

Series Inventory

Series A. Biographical articles. — 1990-2004. — 4 cm of textual materials
The series consists of short articles about Mennonite Albertans who have made a significant contributions to community, church or other organizations written or collected by Irene Klassen. The series is arranged by surname of subject

1 – 1 Biography of Cornelius D. Harder by Jacob D. Harder – 1990
1 – 2 Benjamin B. Janz by Irene Klassen – 2004
1 – 3 He has Qualified Us (Biography of Henry and Sara Kornelsen) by Elviera Dueck – 1995
1 – 4 Henry H. Kornelsen by Irene Klassen – 2004
1 – 5 Abram Paetkau by George Paetkau – 2000
1 – 6 John and Katie Penner by Irene Klassen – 2003
1 – 7 A Remarkable Trek – The Story of Mary Penner by Mary Wall – 2000
1 – 8 Peter Rempel, Youth worker, Pastor, Counselor by Abram Harder – 2003
1 – 9 Bernhard W. Sawatzky by Irene Klassen – 2004
1 – 10 My Personal Sojourn by Bill Thiessen – 2003
1 – 11 John Aron Toews by Irene Klassen – 2004
1 – 12 John Unrau by Anne Harder – 2003
1 – 13 Abram P. Willms by Irene Klassen – 2004

Series B. Congregational articles. — 1984-2004. — 2 cm of textual materials
The series consists of short articles about Alberta Mennonite congregations written or collected by Irene Klassen. The series is arranged by subject

1 – 14 Castor by Cornie Friesen – 1991
1 – 15 Chinook/Sedalia by Irene Klassen – 1984
1 – 16 Countess by Jake Wiens – 2003
1 – 17 Gem by Henry Goerzen – 2000
1 – 18 New Gem by Irene Klassen – 2004
1 – 19 Provost by Cornie Friesen – 1991
1 – 20 Mount View Mennonite Church by Myrtle Miller, includes photos, cemetery records, newspaper clippings. –  1980

Series C. Photographs from Their Mark, Their Legacy project. – [1927-ca 1990]. – 22 photographs

Accession 2010.028

oo1 Sedalia, Franz Penner Begraebnis, 1927
002 La Crete Christian Fellowship (EMC) Interior with Pastor Hamm at the pulpit
003 Young woman with a bicycle
004 Young woman with a bicycle loaded with boxes.
oo5 Choir in Coaldale
006 Wm & Marie Pauls, 1990.
007 Unidentified group of people, c. 1930s
oo8 Helen Willms Bergen of a bicycle
009 Helen Willms in Hwalien, Taiwan on a motor cycle, late 1970s.
010 Joh.  G. Rempel, 1944
011 Gerhard Bartel
012 Four unidentified persons
013 Unidentified group of about 20 men
014 David Regehr and Milie Glick
015 Unidentifeid man
016 Anne Neufeld and Carol Sawatzky
017 Unidentifeid couple
018 Ann Harder Memorial Service
019 Edmonton choir
020 Rudy Janzen, Ernie Walde, Henry Goertzen sod turning at camp.
021 Peter and Annie Heidebrecht 25 anniversary of their preaching service
022 Henry Goerzen painting pictures
023 David and Katherine Epp, Ferhard, Irene, Rev. Wm. Martens, baptism, 1944,
024 Unidentified group sitting around a table.
025 DVBS at Judah 1955, teachers Grace Harder, Mary Good Heidy Friesen.
026 Notes for a 25th wedding anniverary celebration by D. A Heidebrecht
027 Baptism in Chinook, 1929, Tina Wiebe,  —-Schmidt, Liese Schmidt, John Neufeld, 2 others with Aelt. Jac. Wiens, Saskatchewan
028 Westward Ho church group: Earl Buschert, C. J. Siemens, Sara Wiens, M. R. Stanton, Bernice (Mrs H. J.) Harder, Joel Reust, Vera Reist, Ruth Buschert, Helen (Reist) Spicer, H. J. Harder, Grace Harder, Blanch Stanton, John Harder.


Accession 2023.002. – ca. 1908-2023. –  0.5 cm of textual records, 8 family photographs, 1 Gymnasia composite class picture, 2 MHSA recognition/appreciation plaques, 1 map.

1. Irene Klassen obituary and “Afterward” tribute at the funeral, 2023
2. Klassen family Russian emigration papers, 1923-1937
3. Klassen family, Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization papers, 1925-1938
4. Irene Klassen’s copy of the Katechismus, published in 1914.
5. Nine Epp Family photographs (oversized) (photos 1-8 are stored in oversized photograph box ; the Gymnasia composite class picture is in an even larger oversized envelope)
5.1 Family of Kornelius and Agatha (Franz) Epp
5.2 Epp family
5.3 “Sommer 1908 bei Onkel Martin Epp, Kurushan, Taurien, S(ued) R(uszland)
5.4 “Das erste Familienfest von Vaters Bruedern auf Neuhof, unserm Elternhaus & Hof, Suedruszland”
5.5 Epp family
5.6 School picture – “grandma Epp a student
5.7 Silberhochzeit von Johann und Justina Lepp, 14 Oktober 1909
5.8 Prediger Konferenz
5.9 Alexandrovkia Gymnasia, 1916/17, large composite class picture.
6. Two Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta recognition/appreciation plaques.
7. Map of Mennonite communities in eastern Pennsylvania (stored with the map collection)
8. Clemenceau Memories – school attended by John Klassen
9. Andres Genealogy, 1840-1975, compiled by Jacob Andres