As you may be aware, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Manitoba by concentrating on Mennonite women both, in our exhibits and in our interpretation of the Village. As part of this theme, we are welcoming a traveling exhibit, Along the Road to Freedom, to MHV from August 9 to October 10, 2016. Featuring twenty-six paintings by artist and curator Ray Dirks, Along the Road to Freedom pays tribute to the women who led their families out of Russia in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and in the midst of World War Two, often in the absence of their fathers, husbands, and brothers, who had been conscripted, killed, or arrested.

   Each painting from this exhibit, which has never been shown in its entirety in southeast Manitoba, creates a memory mosaic of the woman it features. Alongside the paintings will be artefacts from the MHV collection showcasing objects that immigrants from the 1920s and 1940s deemed too necessary or too precious to leave behind in the Soviet Union.

   The paintings and artefacts ask us all – not just Mennonites of European heritage – to remember and honour the stories of the women, strong or frail, certain or unsure, forging ahead or struggling to survive, who are responsible for our living good lives at peace, far from lands and times of uncertainty and fear.

   Some of the women featured in this exhibit include:

  • Judith (Dyck) Epp (1835-1906) was a widow when she came to Canada in 1893 with her grown children. Even though women were not typically able to have large roles in their churches at this time, Judith was involved in founding the Eigenheim Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan, and was active in her congregation until her death.
  • Anna (Dick) Bergmann (1880-1961) lived on an estate in Russia with her family. She and her family lost everything after the Russian Revolution, including her husband and all male relatives over the age of eighteen. She left Russia with her six children in 1924 and settled on a farm in Glenlea, Manitoba.
  • Katja Goerz (1916-2013) and her family fled to Germany in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, but were not able to immigrate to Canada, so they settled in a Mennonite colony in Brazil instead. She and her husband returned to Germany with their two children in 1939, just was World War Two was breaking out. They fled Poland with the retreating German army in 1945 and spent time in a refugee camp. They were finally able to immigrate to Canada in 1948.

   Join us on Tuesday, August 9th at 7:30 p.m. for the official opening of Along the Road to Freedom (free admission for the evening). Artist Ray Dirks will speak about the exhibit, and Curator Andrea Dyck will provide historical context. Others will speak about their individual experiences as refugees. All are welcome. 

   Along the Road to Freedom opens to the public on Wednesday, August 10th, and will run until Monday, October 10th.

Calendar of Events

- August 8-12: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 9: Opening of exhibit in Gerhard Ens Gallery – 7:30 PM

- August 10: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

- September 5: Fall on the Farm - 9:00 – 5:00

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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