Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario

Classification scheme: 

Title: Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario fonds

Dates of creation: 1965-
Note: Further accruals are expected

Physical description: 1.3 m of textual records

Administrative history: The Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario held its first meeting on 8 May 1965, though it was not formally organized until the following month. The Society has been loosely affiliated with Conrad Grebel College since its inception. J. Winfield Fretz, the first President of the College, also served as the Society's president from its inception until 1977.

The Society has carried out a variety of projects as well as regular public meetings. It publishes a semi-annual periodical (Mennogespräch (1983-1992) and Ontario Mennonite History (1992- )).

The Society was the formal sponsor of the Mennonite Bicentennial Commission which celebrated the 200th anniversary of Mennonites in Canada in 1986. The records of the Commission are archived under that organization. The Society is also a member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, and prior to that worked jointed with the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society in sponsoring the Mennonites in Canada history book series by Frank H. Epp.

Presidents of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario have been: J. Winfield Fretz (1965-1977), Orland Gingerich (1977-1980), Sam Steiner, (1980-1981, 1998-2000, 2002-2006), Alice Koch (1981-1992), E. Reginald Good (1992-1998), Marlene Epp (2000-2002), Maurice Martin (2006- ). Lorna Bergey served as secretary from 1968-2000.

Custodial history: The fonds has been regularly deposited in the Mennonite Archives of Ontario since its formation.

Scope and content: There are five series: Board recordsProject recordsPublicationsMinor Publications and Artifacts.

Notes: Original description prepared by Sam Steiner 25 November 2004

File list:

Series 1: Board Records

  1. Legal records
    Charitable registration, 1969
    Ontario Corporate Charter, 1977
    Constitution, 1965
    Bylaws, 1977
    Copyright, "Trail of the Conestoga" drama by Norma Rudy
    Copyright, The Mennonites of Ontario by J. Winfield Fretz, 1967 
    Memo of Understanding with Conrad Grebel College, 1996 
    Affiliation with Ontario Historical Society, 1986 
    Annual registration under corporate registration act, 1986-2000, 2002 
    Endowment Fund Agreement - Mennonite Bicentennial Commission, MCEC & MHSO, 1991 (Perpetual care for Bicentennial Monument in Vineland)
    Gertrude Bergey bequest, 2007-2010
    Memo of understanding re the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, 2 Dec 2010
  2. Minutes (Board and Annual) 
    1970-1977 (Note: Probably not complete.) 
    1977-1994 (Note: Annual meetings as recorded in corporate book) 
    1980-Jun 2011, 2018
  3. Correspondence
    1998-2006 (incomplete)
    2007-May 2011
  4. Financial records
    1965-1972, 1975
    Ontario Heritage Grant Applications, 1976-2002
  5. Membership lists
    Note: Subsequent membership lists can be found in the correspondence files.
  6. Newsletter Committee
    1992-1994, 1997, 2001, 2003-2009, 2011-2013, 2015-2018
    Note: Includes license agreement with EBSCO Publishing, 2012.
  7. GAMEO Ontario Subcommittee
    Nov 2001-May 2006
  8. Genealogy Committee
    Lorraine Roth file, 1981-1988
    Note: Transferred from Lorraine Roth fonds Hist.Mss. 1.117 
    Helen Freeman file, 1981-1985
    Note: Transferred from Lorraine Roth fonds Hist.Mss. 1.117
  9. Chronologies of society events, 1966-1990 
  10. J. Winfield Fretz Award/ J. Winfield Fretz Publication Fund, 1992, 1997-1999, 2001, 2009
    Note: Includes a paper submitted by Isaac R. Horst ("The Krehbiel-Lapp Controversy," Oct 1997); and one by Maria Steinman ("Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp and Retreat Centre").

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Series 2: Projects

  1. Mennonites in Ontario by J. Winfield Fretz (1967, 1974)
    Typescript, 1967 
    Tearsheets, 1967
    Correspondence, 1966-1974
  2. Centennial Pageant "The New Commandment" (1967)
    Script by Barbara Coffman, 1967 
    Artwork, background material
    Correspondence, committee minutes, 1966-1967
  3. Trail of the Conestoga (Play and film) (1969, 1970, 1973, 1977 (film))
    Script by Norma Rudy, 1969 
    Correspondence, records, 1969 production
    Correspondence, records, 1970 production 
    Correspondence, records, 1973 production
    Correspondence, records, 1973-1977 film production 
    Memorandum of Understanding re: royalties with Norma Rudy, 1977
  4. Brubacher House (1966- ) 
    Correspondence, minutes, etc., 1966-1978
    Newsclippings, 1968-
    Architectural Drawings, Sept. 1968
    Contract/Specifications of restoration, 1976 
    Memo of Understanding with Conrad Grebel College, 1996 
    Brubacher House storyline and tour scripts, [19--], 1983, [1995?], 2000. This file also includes a draft of Ancestors & Descendents of John E. Brubacher and Magdalena M. Musselman by Paul A. Hunsberger (2002), and notes for several tours given by Lorna Bergey. 
    Reports (visitor count, etc.) by hosts, 1994-2004
    Brubacher House Committee minutes, 1979-2003
    Appraisal for artefact donations, 1999
    Note: Appraisal is for: Linen show towel by Magdalena Eby Betzner (b.1813); Jacquard woven coverlet by Catherine Sherk Brubacher (1798-1882)
    Brubacher House Museum /  produced by W. E. Nassau for the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario. - optical disc. (labelled "master") 15 min., 2005.
    Brubacher House / Schaefer, 1981. - col. print ; 39 x 32 cm (in frame). - Inscription reads: "Brubacher House: The City of Waterloo Council and LACAC recognize your contribution in preserving our heritage." - Originally presented to the University of Waterloo. Received by the Archives from the University of Waterloo's president's office in 2015.
    Brubacher antique dresser documents, 2014
    Spinning wheel correspondence, 2017
    Catherine and Martin Brubacher coverlet donation, 2019
    Donation of quilt made by Louisa Cressman Brubacher (1860-1934), 2020
    Photographs, 1980-1991, 2012
    Presentation to MHSO by Marlene Epp and Laura Enns on new Brubacher House signage, .mp4 of online meeting, October 2020 (located in MAO Media Archive)
    Deed of Gift for nursing rocking char, 2022
    Misc. documents from hosts, 2001-2006
    Brubacher House presentation slides and script, 1988. Note: Hist.Mss.10.45 is the physical location for the slides. The slide set and accompanying script is described in the Mennonite Archival Information Database.
  5. And When Their Time Had Come (1970-1976) 
    Tentative Script, 1971
    Resumés of principals in E. Mina Associates, 1971
    Correspondence, 1970-1976
    Treasurer's Records on Project, 1971-1977
    Booking records, 1973-1983
  6. This Land is Ours / Beyond This Land (1970-1975)
    Correspondence, 1970-1975
    Booking records, 1973-1981
    South Bend, Indiana production, 1973
         Note: This file was donated in 2018 by John Bender. A poster for the production was donated in 2021 by Fred Lichti (located in map case).
  7. Dee Fria : a Low German Dialect Play (1970) 
    Script by Arnold Dyck
    Program and Poster
  8. Brubacher House DVD, 2004-2006
    Minutes & correspondence, 2004-2006 (minutes start with meeting #8)
  9. Amish & Their Neighbours by Lorraine Roth, 1996-1998
    Financial records
  10. Mennonites in Ontario by Marlene Epp, 1990-
    Notes, financial records, etc. 
  11. Reesor play, Sept 2009
    Poster (located in map case)
  12. Amish Bicentennial, 2022
    Note: Includes report, minutes, program, etc. Poster located in map case. One file is restricted.
  13. Russlaender immigration commemorations, 2023
    Poster and program for "The Place of Memory," Waterloo
    Program for Saengerfest, Winnipeg

Series 3: Publications

  1. Mennonites in Ontario
    The Mennonites in Ontario 
    by J. Winfield Fretz (1967) 
    The Mennonites in Ontario by J. Winfield Fretz (1974)
    The Mennonites in Ontario by J. Winfield Fretz (1982)
    Mennonites in Ontario by Marlene Epp (1994)
    Mennonites in Ontario by Marlene Epp (2002)
  2. A Brief History of Mennonites in Ontario by L. J. Burkholder (1986 reprint)
  3. Willing Service : Stories of Ontario Mennonite Women by Lorraine Roth (1992)
  4. The Amish and Their Neighbours : the German Block, Wilmot Township 1822-1860 by Lorraine Roth (1998, 1999 reprint)
  5. Semiannual Newsletter
    Mennogespräch (1983-1992)
    Ontario Mennonite History (1993-2011)
  6. Brochures

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Series 4: Minor Publications / Unpublished Papers

  1. Bulletin
    Mimeographed issues published in 1966, 1969, 1970, 1973 (also press releases from 1965 and 1969)
  2. "Recent Amish Immigration to Ontario" by Joseph Stoll (1966)
  3. "Early Amish Settlements and Their Development" by Orland Gingerich (1966)
  4. "The Family Bible" by Walter Klaassen (1968) 
    Note: Moved to XV-30.4/5
  5. "Historical Comments on the Froschauer Bible" by Delbert Gratz; "The Family Bible: by Walter Klaassen 
    Scope and content: Program, guest list, and remarks made by Gratz and Klaassen on the occasion of the donation of the Schneider family Bible to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.
  6. Mennonite Tour of Waterloo County (1972)
  7. "Two Mennonite Cultures Meet" by J. Winfield Fretz (1974)
  8. "The Human Drama of Conrad Grebel" by Leland Harder (1975)
  9. "Practical Sight Singing for Singing Schools" by Allen D. Martin (1978)(Song samples only)
  10. "The Cober Dunkard Church in Vaughan" (1978)
  11. "The Mennonites in Essex County" by Mary M. Janzen (1979)
  12. "A Historical Sketch of Bertie Congregation" by Abbie Sider (1980)
  13. "Mennonite History in the Southern Niagara Peninsula" by Harold Nigh (1981)
  14. "A Resume of the History of the Blake Mennonite Church" by Gordon Erb (1981)
  15. Mennonite Historical Society Bus Trip (1982) (North and West areas of Kitchener-Waterloo)
  16. "Berea Mennonite Church" (1982)
  17. "Tour of Early Mennonite Settlement in Waterloo Township" [Tour & map] (1983)
  18. "Field Trip to the Mennonite Settlements in the Townships of North Dumfries, Blenheim and Blandford" by Lorna Bergey (1984)
  19. Celebrating Our First Twenty Years (1985)
  20. Tour of The Twenty (Vineland area) (1986)
  21. Five Mennonite tour maps (derived from Mennonite Bicentennial Tour Map)(1986)
  22. Tour of Vineland area (Map, 1992)
  23. Bloomingdale Area Tour (1996)
  24. "Tour of Early Mennonite Settlement -- Preston, Doon, Blair, Beaverdale, Riverbank Dr." by Lorna Bergey (1997)
  25. "Amish Mennonite Settlers of Wilmot Township" [Tour text] by Alice Koch, et al (1998)
  26. Markham area tour (1999)
  27. "Remembering the Arrival of Mennonite Refugees from Russia in July 1924" [program and associated papers] (1999)
  28. Generic Mennonite Settlement in Waterloo County tour by Lorna Bergey (1980s)
  29. "Disappearing Mennonites of Welland County" by Sam Steiner (2006); includes text of presentation, travel commentary and map
  30. "A Century of Christian Education" [Sunday School at East Zorra Mennonite Church] by Shirley J. Wagler (2003)
  31. "Mennonite village life in Russia" / by Herbert Enns
    Scope and content: text of presentation given at the fall meeting, 23 Nov 1968.
  32. "Report given at the Stirling Ave. Mennonite Church on July 26/70 [relating his experiences in Russia in connection with the work of Mennonite Central Committee during the famine of 1922]" / by Nicholas Fehderau (1970)
  33. History of Dunnville United Mennonite Church, 1927-1977 / Susan Dyck
    Scope and content: Presentation at the MHSO annual meeting, 1977
  34. 1888-1988 [a history of Waterloo-Kitchener Mennonite Church] / Herbert Enns
    Scope and content: Presentation at the MHSO annual meeting, 1988
  35. History of Black/Mennonite interaction in Peel Township: driving tour, Saturday, June 15th, 2013 [pamphlet] / Timothy Epp. File also includes maps.
  36. Biographical notes on the pioneer Rieser farm, Markham, Ontario / Ada Reesor, 2 Oct 1969

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Series 5: Artifacts

  1. Anna Weber fraktur (moved to Hist. Mss.23.1)
  2. John C. Shantz Daybook (moved to Hist.Mss.1.209)
  3. John Ruth Fraktur Slides from Pennsylvania (moved to Hist.Mss.10.26)
  4. Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario corporate seal
  5. Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario banner.--paint on linen, 44 x 160 cm

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Generally 9:00 am - 4:00 pm 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