of Alberta


  1. 2022 Virtual Spring Conference on Zoom

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    Date: Saturday May 14, 2022
    Time: 2pm

    I Am a Mennonite directed by Paul Plett – 59 min film
    A filmmaker explores his Mennonite roots and ancestry
    Staring: Yulia Asraf, Candice Bergen, Tina Dyck and more

    Commentary and Q&A to follow with Director Paul Plett

    Your host for the afternoon will be: Katie Harder

    ZOOM Link – no pre-registration required


    Donations are welcome to help defray expenses

  2. Regehr, Katharina H., fonds,1950-1970, 5 cm.

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    Accession 2021.018

    Physical Description

    Regehr, Katharina H., fonds, 1950-1970, 5 cm

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Katharina Regehr was born in the village of Prangenau, Molotschna colony in 1894.  The family moved to the Terek Mennonite settlement in 1901.  Sharply increased hostility by some of the  local people following the overthrow of the Tsarist government forced the family to leave the Terek in 1918.  Like many others, Katharina endured numerous hardships in the 1930s and during World War II before being evacuated westward by retreating German military forces.   She was able to migrate to Canada in 1948.  She maintained contact with relatives and friends in Russia and in Germany and copied many of the letters she or other friends and relatives received into small notebooks.  Also included in the notebooks were poems, stories, autobiographical notes and smaller bits of other information.   It is a rather eclectic collection documenting conditions in Russia, Germany, and contacts between people there with their relatives and friends in Canada.  Katharina Regehr visited and stayed for a time with her oldest brother, Peter H. Regehr, in Coaldale, Alberta, before retiring in British Columbia where she died in 1982.

    Custodial History

    After, or perhaps already before Katharina’s death in 1982, many of her papers came into the possession of the children of her oldest brother, Peter H. Regehr.  Nephew Jacob Regehr, Peter H. Regehr’s son, translated and privately published Katharina Regehr’s recollections in 1992.  He subsequented donated a copy to the Library of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta.  These notebooks were donated by Marge Friesen, the daughter of Cornelius Regehr, another nephew of Katharina Regehr.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of four booklets or folders of material
    Folder 1-1 Letters written by relatives and friends in Germany, 1950-1959, and copied by Katharina Regehr.
    Folder 1-2 Letters written by relatives and friends in Germany, 1959-1970, and copied by Katharina Regehr
    Folder 1-3  A somewhat eclectic  collectionLetters, notes, stories, copied by Katharina Regehr.
    Folder 1-4 A small, somewhat eclectic collective of original letters and other written material collected by Katharina Regehr.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Marge Friesen, daughter of Katharina Regehr’s nephew, Cornelius Regehr.




    See also, Jacob M. Regehr,  Recollections from my Life by Katharina H. Regehr, 1894-1982, Self-published, 1992.  A copy is available in the Library of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta.


  3. Janzen, Anna, fonds, 1926-1958, 2 cm and one CD

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    Accession 2004.032

    Title and Physical Description:

    Janzen, Anna, fonds, 1926-1958, 2 cm and one CD

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Anna Janzen (nee Anna Barg), the daughter of Isaak Barg and Maria (Dueck) Barg, was born 8 November 1911 in the village of Fuerstenwerder, Saporoschnia settlement.  She migrated from the Soviet Union to Canada in 1926.  There she married Aron Janzen on 11 January 1931.  They lived in Coaldale, Alberta, where Anna Janzen died in 2008.
    Over the years the family received numerous letters from relatives still in the Soviet Union.

    Custodial History

    The letters and some supporting documents were entrusted to Erna Goerzen who photocopied and translated them, and also preserved a copy on a compact disc.  The original copies were returned by Erna Goerzen to Anna Janzen.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of a manuscript entitled “Familien Briefe aus Ruszland, 1926-1958, Sammlung von Anna Janzen, Englishe Verfassung-Uebersetzung, Heinrich u. Erna Goerzen,”  It includes the translated version of letters received by members of the Janzen family from relatives in the Soviet Union, together with an account by Anna’s father-in-law of the family’s journey from the Soviet Union, and some supportive genealogical information.  Also included is a separate folder contianing more extensive genealogical information, and another folder containing photocopies of the letters which are also preserved on a compact disc.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated to the Mennonite Historical Society of  Alberta by Erna Goerzen.



  4. Harder, David, Diaries, 1915-1918, 2 cm

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    Accession 2021.016

    Physical Description

    Harder, David, Diaries, 1915-1918, 2 cm

    Biographical History

    David Harder was born 6 December 1891 in Friedensfeld, Sagradowka, the son of Kornelius and Katharina (Janzen) Harder. When he was five years old the family moved to Suworowka in the Caucusus.  After his marriage to Helena Toews in 1912, members of the extended Harder family, including David and his wife, moved to Siberia.  They first lived in the village of Schoensee in the Slavgorad Mennonite settlement where David bought a farm, but soon turned it over to his younger brother Jacob.  He was more interested in carpentry work.
    In 1914 David was drafted and joined the Forestry Service.  That program had been greatly expanded to include not only work in forestry camps, but also on fire brigades and with the Marine Department, building, repairing and maintaining marine facilities and working on river boats and barges carrying freight and supplies.   David, together with other Mennonites, worked mainly on the Ob and Chylum rivers, or their tributories, in west central Siberia.  From December of 1915 until November of 1918 David kept a diary, written in cursive Gothic German script.  It is contained in three notebooks.
    In 1917, while on leave, David Harder bought a second farm, again together with his younger brother, Jacob.  They did the farm work together, but David also continued work as a carpenter.  He also did maintenance work on a flour mill for Russian owners.
    In 1923, the family sought permission to emigrate to Canada.  After waiting several years they were granted the required visas and left on 28 October 1926.  They travelled from Moscow to Riga, Latvia, in a boxcar with two other families.  In Riga tragedly struck the family.  David had become ill on the journey and, upon arrival in Riga, collapsed while moving baggage.  He was taken to the hospital where he died on 7 December 1926.  His wife and four children were guarantined in Riga until July 1927 because one of the children had trachoma.  Before they left Riga, Helena gave birth to a son, Jacob, on 3 June 1927.  She continued her journey to Canada as a widow with five children.

    Custodial History

    Helena, David Harder’s widow, brought the diaries along to Canada.  After Helena’s death the diaries came into the possession of David’s son, Jacob D. Harder, who, as noted above, had been born in Riga after his father’s death.  Jacob Harder, with the help of other family members and friends, transcribed and translated the diaries.  Rhonda Harder Epp, Jacob D. Harder’s daughter received the diaries after her father’s death.  Rhonda and her sister donated the origianal diaries and the English translation, to the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta in 2021.

    Scope and Content

    The fonds consists of three notebooks in which David Harder wrote about his experiences while serving in the Forestry Service during World War I.  Also included is the English translation by Jacob D. Harder, with assistance from other family members and friends.

    Source of the Acquisition

    Donated by Rhonda Harder Epp and her sister, granddaughters of David Harder and daughters of Jacob D. Harder


    See also Accession 2003.022, Jacob D. Harder fonds, which contains additional information about the Harder family.

  5. Coaldale Altenfest. 1930’s-1969, 9 photographs

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    Accession 2017.014

    Coaldale Altenfest, 1930s-1969, 9 photographs.

    Administrative/Biographical History

    It was, for many years, the practice that Mennonite men and women at Coaldale, Alberta, who were over the age of 65 met annually for an Altenfest (Seniors’ Festival).  Members of both the Mennonite Brethren and General Conference Mennonite churches participated.  All, or almost all, had migrated from the Soviet Union to Canada in the 1920s.  There was much visiting, some singing, a devotional, and a light lunch at which the shared Russian Mennonite religious and cultural heritage took precedence over denominational differences.  It was customary to take a group photo at these celebrations.

    Custodial History

    Received from Lynnette Toews Neufeldt as part of a large collection of miscellaneous books, hymnals, photographs and other archival items.

    Scope and Content

    The 9 photographs are approximately 24 cm x 20 cm in size and held in a special photograph album.  The earliest of these photos in marked as being in the 1930’s. followed by one marked 1949, others marked 1949 or 1950, 19501 or 1953, 1953, 1954, next two undated, and 1969.  They are arranged chronologically.

    Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Lynnette Toews Neufeldt.


    Filed with other larger photograph albums.


  6. Friesen, John W., fonds, 1984, 2 cm

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    Accession 2021.005

    Title and Physical Description:

    Friesen, John W., fonds, 1984, 2cm

    Administrative/Biographical History

    John W. Friesen, born in Saskatchewan, was for many years a professor with the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary.  He holds several university degrees including a D. Min from Christian Bible College and a Ph. D. from the University of Kansas.  He is best known for his numerous articles and several books on indigenous spirituality and culture, but has also examined aspects of Mennonite religious and educational history.

    Custodial History

    This manuscript was donated by Peter Dyck of Calgary

    Scope and Content

    This 36-page manuscript, entitled “Concepts of Mennonites in School Curricula,” is based on a study undertaken as part of the conceived mandate of the Mennonite Bicentennial Commissionof Waterloo, Ontario, and was undertaken at their request.

    Source of the Accession

    Donated by Peter Dyck of Calgary.


  7. Connie Thiessen fonds, 2020, 5 cm.

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    Title and physical description

    Connie Thiessen fonds, 2020, 5 cm.

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Connie Thiessen is the daughter of Dietrich Thiessen, 1929-2020 and Nettie (Dueck) Thiessen, 1929-2004.  Members of both the Thiessen and Dueck families had come from the Soviet Union to Canada in the 1920s, and eventually settled at Coaldale, Alberta.  There were numerous siblings in both the Thiessen and Dueck families.  These are stories and short biographies of Connie’s ancestors, parents and siblings of her parents.

    Scope and Content

    In her manuscript entitled “Early Stories & Family Trees,” Connie Thiessen provides detailed genealogical information about her ancestors, their expereinces in Russia/Soviet Union, the migration to Canada, subsequent experiences in Canada, and short biographical information about her grandparents, parents and numerous uncles and aunts.  Both the Thiessen and Dueck families were supportive and active participation as members of the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church.  Much of the information is drawn from personal recollections, or diary entries ,of various family members.  The manuscript includes numerous family, church  and individual photographs.
    After their marriage Connie’s parents moved from Coaldale to Lindbrook, but Connies includes very little information about her own, or the family’s experiences after that move.

    Source of Acquisition

    Gift by Connie Thiessen

    Access Restrictions



    See also: short entry by Connie’s father, Dick Thiessen, on the Thiessen family, and the shrot entry by Connie’s grandfather, Rev. Jacob P. Dueck, on the Dueck family, in Coaldale, Gem of the West, 1900-1983, (Coaldale Historical Society, 1983), p-. 886-887 and 456-457 respectively/

    See also MHSA Accession 2016.021, Jacob E. Dueck fonds.  Jacob Dueck was a younger brother of Nettie (Dueck) Thiessen (Connie’s mother).


    Comments Off on SUSANNE BUHLER

    February 5, 1925 – Neuendorf, Ukraine
    November 27, 2020 – Calgary, Alberta

    Susanne Buhler passed away peacefully on Friday, November 27, 2020 at the age of 95 years, after a short hospital stay. She made an impression wherever she went with her wonderful smile!

    Susanne is survived by her daughters, Ericka, and Elsie (Andy); her son Elston, grandsons, Ryan (Jessica), and Corey (Jeana); and her great-grandchildren, Ethan, Nixon, Hunter and Arielle; and many other relatives and wonderful friends she made throughout her life.
    Susanne was predeceased by her husband Abram, daughter Helga, son Edward, and brothers, Henry and John; they are all reunited in the arms of the Lord.

    Due to Covid restrictions, a small family Funeral Service will be held. Condolences, memories and photos may be shared and viewed on Susanne’s obituary at If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Calgary & Southern Alberta Chapter, 1130F – 44 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 4W6 Telephone: (403) 266-5295,


  9. Schellenberg, Gail

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    Obituary for Colleen Gail Schellenberg

    The life that was Colleen Gail Schellenberg is now ours to remember and celebrate. Gail was born in Calgary, Alberta to John and Ina (nee Hiebert) Schellenberg on November 25, 1957 and passed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 4, 2020. The Schellenberg family attended Foothills Mennonite Church and were very active in that faith community.

    Gail pursued post secondary education at Columbia Bible Institute in Clearbrook, BC, and later a teaching degree from the University of Manitoba. She taught at several religious private schools in Calgary, (Heritage Christian School, Menno Simons Christian School) and Kitchener (Rockway Mennonite Collegiate) before serving as principal at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate (Winnipeg) and later Rosthern Junior College (Rosthern). She returned to Winnipeg and became the administrator for IJC, Initiatives for Just Communities, where she worked until health issues intervened.

    Gail loved the prairies, poetry and her profession as an educator. The qualities that endeared her to family and friends she brought to her workplace. She was creative, independent, laughed often from her heart, and loved the students entrusted to her. She erred always on the side of giving second chances to kids first. She travelled widely in Central America, Europe, and China not so much as a tourist but as a keen observer of life. She was a small ‘g’ gardener, a voracious reader, a knitter, an outdoor music festival fan, and always on the lookout for a Christmas tree ornament as a gift for her many nieces and nephews.

    The gift of consciousness bestowed on us by the Divine has, wrapped at its core, the awareness of a limited warranty. How Gail chose to unwrap the gift was reflected in the decisions she made and the beautiful soul she possessed.

    She is survived by her mother Ina, sister Kim (Byron) and brothers Terry (Brenda), Craig (Patricia), Bob (Sandi), Jeff, brother-in-law Mike (Sylvia)

    and 17 nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her father John (2015), sister Karen (2002) and sister-in-law Ingrid (nee Janssen, 2015)

    At her request, there will be no funeral but private remembrances only. For those who wish, donations to the Canadian Association of Mennonite Schools, or Initiatives for Just Communities may be made.

  10. Hilda Dick fonds, 1890-1992, 2 large family photograph albums

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    Hilda Dick fonds, 1890-1992.

    Accession 2020.001.

    Administrative/Biographical History

    Hilda Dick was born in Coaldale Alberta on 4 May 1927, the daughter of Johann and Liese (Regehr) Dick.  She attended the Readymade elemntary school, the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Bible School, and then, after a series of short-term jobs,  trained as a nursing aide in Calgary.  She worked in  hospitals in Lethbridge and Coaldale before joining the clinic staff of the Coaldale doctors, where she worked for 34 years.

    Hilda and her twin brother Walter came from a large family comprised of eight sons and five daughters.  Hilda was the only single adult sibling, but always took a keen interest in the lives of her siblings and many nieces, nephews and later grand-nieces and grand-nephews.  After Hilda’s parents retired and moved to a house in town, Hilda provided care and support.  After her father’s death in 1968, she lived together with her mother who died in 1892 at the age of 102.

    Hilda accepted an important retirement project when she went through numerous family photograph albums and then compiled two large  albums – one focusing on photographs of the Dick family, and the other on the Regehr family.  The albums provide a comprehensive overview of the families’ Russian background and their Canadian experiences.