“This feels just like our weather in southern Ontario,” stated one of the Executive Committee members of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC). Winnipeg’s weather was mild and rainy, not what MHSC members have learned to expect when they come to Manitoba for their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in late January. Approximately 20 people representing organizations from British Columbia to Quebec gathered there from January 19–21, 2017, for various committee sessions, a board of directors meeting and the AGM.
The MHSC is made up of member organizations including six provincial Mennonite historical societies, five Mennonite church conferences and their respective archival bodies, and various other Mennonite institutions, such as Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCCC), Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and others. This year the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, BC, and the Humanitas Anabaptist Mennonite Centre at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, were formally accepted as members of the MHSC. Member organizations combine efforts to research, preserve and interpret Mennonite history in Canada, including the Dutch/Russian and the Swiss Mennonite experiences.
One of the Society’s projects is the support of the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), a repository of Mennonite information from around the world. MHSC members are encouraged to submit articles to the site and also participate in an editorial role.
Under the leadership of the Chair of Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg, the MHSC supports the work of the Divergent Voices of Canadian Mennonites, a group that plans conferences on a variety of topics of interest to Mennonites. Conferences have addressed The History of Aboriginal-Mennonite Relations; The Return of the Kanadier Mennonites: A History of Accomplishments and Challenges; War and the Conscientious Objector; and most recently, Mennonites, Land and the Environment. The theme for the 2017 conference, taking place October 19-21, is Mennonite/s Writing VIII: Uprootings and Dislocations. This conference will feature papers addressing the Russlaender Migration in one way or another.
Another project of the MHSC is the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID). This is an electronic collection of historical photos available for research and publication projects. The committee overseeing this project is contemplating expanding the database to include archival documents which are not necessarily photos and renaming it the Mennonite Archival Information Database (still MAID).
This year’s MHSC Awards of Excellence were given to Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein and the late Dr. Helmut Huebert (1935-2016). Dr. Klippenstein is well known in Canadian Mennonite historical circles for his work with historical committees and societies, his work with the Mennonite Heritage Centre (1974-1997), his writings in various publications, and his other significant roles in the field. He is currently on the Board of Directors of MHV.
Dr. Helmut Huebert of Winnipeg was an orthopedic surgeon by profession and an avid Mennonite historian. He did extensive research and writing in the area of maps, working together at times with the late William Schroeder, also an avid Mennonite mapmaker and researcher. Ten books and atlases have been credited to Dr. Huebert, including Molotschna Historical Atlas (2003) and Mennonite Medicine in Russia: 1800-1930 (2012). It is a privilege to honour the work of these individuals with Awards of Excellence.
Projected dates for next year’s MHSC meetings, to be held in Alberta, are January 19-20, 2018.
Calendar of Events:
February 5 – Vespers Service 7:00 PM