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History of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario

The Mennonite Archives of Ontario had its origin in the research undertaken by Lewis J. Burkholder in the early 1930s for his book, A brief history of the Mennonites in Ontario ([Kitchener, Ontario: Mennonite Conference of Ontario], 1935). In his research he gathered a significant quantity of 19th century letters and published documents. He placed these in a "Mennonite box" at the Archives of Ontario located in Toronto.

In 1941 an archival collection began to be maintained at the Golden Rule Bookstore (later Provident Bookstore) in Kitchener, Ontario. The manager of the bookstore, J.C. Fretz, was also the historian for the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. At that time the "Mennonite box" was returned to Mennonite hands.

In 1958 an addition to the classroom building at Rockway Mennonite School provided space for archival materials. Additional materials from the Swiss Mennonite community in Ontario began to be gathered under the supervision of Dorothy Schwartzentruber who worked at the bookstore.

In 1965, after the construction of Conrad Grebel University College, the collection was moved from Rockway. Lorna Bergey took charge of the collection until 1974 at which time Sam Steiner was hired as the first paid staff person. Laureen Harder-Gissing became archivist after Sam's retirement in January 2009.

The Mennonite Archives of Ontario now serves as the official depository for Conrad Grebel University College, Mennonite Central Committee (Ontario), Christian Peacemaker Teams (Canada), Conscience Canada and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. Other collections include the Mennonites in Canada collection gathered by Frank H. Epp, the archives of the Ontario Mennonite Bible School & Institute, the predecessor conferences to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, the Non-Resistant Relief Organization, the Conference of Historic Peace Churches, local Mennonite congregations, and leaders from within the Mennonite community.

The organizational scheme employed by the archives were derived by that developed at the Archives of the Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana) by Melvin Gingerich, longtime archivist at that facility. He assisted in the early formation of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Hours

Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Making an appointment with the archivist in advance is strongly recommended.

Contact

Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238

Email: marchive@uwaterloo.ca