Classification scheme: 

Title: Military Problems Committee of the Conference of Historic Peace Churches

Dates of creation: 1917-1963; 1940-1945 predominant

Physical description: 80 cm of textual records

Administrative history:  The Military Problems Committee (MPC), also known as the Committee on Military Problems, was formed at the 22 Jul 1940 meeting of the Conference of Historic Peace Churches (CHPC). Each of the various groups represented on the CHPC were invited to appoint one member. By 1941, ten such members had been appointed.

J. B. Martin was appointed chairman; Noah M. Bearinger was the first secretary. Later that year, S. F. Coffman and Thomas Reesor were appointed advisory members in light of their leadership during World War I.The chairman and secretary of the CHPC were also made members of the MPC.

The Military Problems Committee played a central role in the work of the CHPC. The first CHPC delegation to Ottawa (1940) consisted of MPC members. MPC administered the registration of all single young men who were conscientious objectors, and all nurses. MPC negotiated with the federal government to create special "Victory Loan" certificates meant only to be used to relieve human suffering due to war. MPC interpreted and communicated government regulations to CHPC member groups. MPC directed the religious adviser program for the Alternative Service camps, and dealt with individual issues with conscientious objectors as they arose; especially in dealings with government or the legal system. Following the war, the MPC was less active, though they laid the groundwork for the formation of the Mennonite Disaster Service and a program of peace education among member groups in Ontario.In 1964, the MPC along with the CHPC was folded into the new Mennonite Central Committee Ontario.

Custodial history: Records were received primarily from the personal papers of J.B. Martin (Hist.Mss.1.24), S.F. Coffman, Noah Bearinger, and Elven Shantz..

Scope and content: Contains the minutes, reports and correspondence of the Military Problems Committee. The Committee also kept files of government publications, news clippings, and pamphlets related to Mennonite non-resistance, and lists of conscientious objectors.

Notes: For photographs related to this organization or associated individuals search the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
Further materials related to this organization may be found by searching the Archives.
Original archival description created 2013 by Laureen Harder-Gissing.

File list:


  1. Minutes and correspondence, 1935, 1940-1946, 1948
  2. Correspondence, 1935, 1939, 1940-1945, 1948, 1951 (2 files)
  3. Minutes, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1962-1963
    Removed: Vol. 12 No. 6 and Vol. 12 No. 7 of The Canadian Mennonite. Copies are located in the Milton Good Library.
  4. Correspondence and reports, Alternative Service camps, 1942-1943
  5. Correspondence and Reports, 1940-1959
  6. Correspondence, Alternative Service applicants, 1942-1944
  7. Correspondence, Northern Beacon
    Note: Copies of Northern Beacon and other Alternative Service camp publications are located in the Milton Good Library.


  1. Pamphlets, war and conscientious objection
    Removed: Memorandum of laws affecting the members of the Mennonite religious society and military service in Canada, [ca. 1917]; Alternative Service in Canada During World War II by J.A. Toews. Copies are located in the Milton Good Library.
  2. Signatures and notes from attendees at a meeting concerning conscientious objectors in the Tavistock area, fall 1943
  3. News clippings, 1940s
  4. Correspondence, Elven Shantz file, 1948-1961
  5. Correspondence, Noah Bearinger file, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1940-1945


  1. Canadian War Orders and Regulations
    Vol. 3 (26 Oct 1942), Extract (14 Dec 1942), Vol. 2 No. 2 (19 Apr 1943), Vol. 3 No. 1-13 (10 Jul – 2 October 1944), Vol. 3 No. 2 (17 Jul 1944), Vol. 4 No. 3 (23 Oct 1944), Vol. 4 No. 4 (30 Oct 1944), Vol. 4 No. 5 (6 Nov 1944)
    Note: Also includes, in oversize folder, “National War Services Regulations, 1940 (recruits) : Mennonites, Doukhobors and conscientious objectors” circular memorandum 120 (7 Jan 1941)
  1. Canada and the war : Canada’s support of the Army overseas / [transcript of] broadcast by W.L. Mackenzie King, 8 Nov 1944
  2. Canada Gazette
    Vol. 74 No 23 (27 Aug 1940), Vol. 74 No. 64 (2 Jan 1941), Vol. 75 No. 99 (7 Dec 1941), Vol. 75 No. 103 (7 Dec 1941), Vol. 75 No. 127 (29 Dec 1941), Vol. 75 No. 227 (9 Mar 1942), Vol. 75 No. 330 (15 May 1942), Vol. 78 No. 41-46 (7 Oct 1944 – 11 November 1944)
  1. J.B. Martin’s report on civil defense, 1957-1958


Meeting minutes
Note: Moved to XV-11.4.1

Note for the following: XV-11.4.5 – XV-11.4.7 were created during World War I and are presumed to be part of the Non-Resistant Relief Organization fonds. It is assumed they are filed here because they were used for reference by the Military Problems Committee.

Note: Digital copies of these files are available here.

  1. Newspaper clippings, ca. 1917-1919 on military exemption
  2. Military Service Branch Tribunal Circulars and list of Local Exemption Tribunals, 1917-1918
  3. Notes on the history of Mennonites seeking exemption in Canada before and during World War I
  4. Appeals for exemption under the Military Service Act, 1917
    Note: Located in oversize box

Note: Digital copies of these files are available here.

  1. Military Service Act, 1917, exemption process
  2. Military Service Act, 1917: File includes government publications relating to the Act and its implications. Also includes a copy of the Immigration Act and Regulations, 1919.


  1. House of Commons debates
    Vol. 52 No. 22 (19 Apr 1918), Vol. 53 No. 44 (30 Apr 1919), Vol. 53 No. 57 (19 May 1919)
  2. “The Real Middlemen – Men Who Squeeze the Farmer : with notes on The Farmers’ Platform /  by H. Bronson Cowan. – Toronto: United Farmers of Ontario, [19--]


Correspondence, 1940-1945, A-D


Correspondence, 1940-1945, E-M


  1. Correspondence 1940-1945, N-Z
  1. Mailing Lists
    Note: Includes lists for the Conference of Historic Peace Churches, and the Military Problems Committee. Also includes a list of C.O. Farm Owners under agreement as of 31 Oct 1944.

Note for the following: XV-11.4.11 – XV-11.4.14 are the records of the chairman, J.B. Martin. The filing system was retained essentially as Martin kept it. File titles do not necessarily describe the entire contents of the file.


  1. Reports on Alternative Service in Canada
    Note: Including list of conscientious objectors, 1948
  1. Information regarding civilian firefighters in the United Kingdom, 1942
    Note: Located in oversize box
  1. Conscientious objector lists
    Notes: Also includes a list of C.O.’s in schools, colleges or on special deferment as of 15 Jan 1946. Located in oversize box.
  2. Advisory committee case summaries on conscientious objectors, 1945-1946
    Note: Located in oversize box


  1. Correspondence, predominantly with other ministers, 1941-1943
  2. Correspondence and reports of religious directors in alternate service camps, predominantly J. Harold Sherk, 1941-1943
  3. Correspondence, Victory Bonds, 1941-1944
  4. Correspondence, predominantly with. J. Harold Sherk, 1940-1941
  5. Correspondence, conscientious objection procedural questions, 1941-1942
  6. Correspondence, Montreal River recreational facility, 1941
    Notes: Includes blueprint. Located in oversize box.
  1. Correspondence, 1940-1941 Notes: Located in oversize box. Item removed from this file: Laws affecting non-resistant religious societies. A copy of this item is located in the Milton Good Library.
  1. Correspondence, conscientious objectors appearing in court, 1940, 1942, 1945


  1. Correspondence from men in Alternative Service camps, 1942-1943
  2. Correspondence, predominantly with government officials, 1941-1946
  3. Correspondence,  Peter Seibold case, 1942
  4. Correspondence, Lyle Shantz case, 1942
  5. Correspondence, Noah Bearinger resignation, 1943
  6. Correspondence, conscientious objector problems, especially married men, 1943
  7. Releases on procedure to Canadian Historic Peace Churches member groups, 1941-1944
  8. Correspondence, miscellaneous, includes B.C. camp reports, 1943
  9. Correspondence, Alternative Service problems, 1943-1944


  1. Correspondence, objections to cadet training in schools and union membership, 1944-1945
  2. Correspondence, Old Order Amish immigration and union membership, 1963-1964
  3. Correspondence and minutes, Peace Education subcommittee, 1963
  4. Correspondence, Samuel V. Martin conscientious objectors case, 1944
  5. Telegrams, 1941-1945
  6. Correspondence with government officials, 1943-1945


Generally 8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday. An appointment in advance is recommended.


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

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238