Classification scheme: 
Hist. Mss.1.193

Title: Jacob H. Enns fonds

Dates of creation: 1928-[197-]

Physical description: 40 cm. of textual records 

Biographical sketch: Jacob H. Enns (17 December 1911-18 January 2002) was born in Ukraine but emigrated to Canada with his family in 1924. He was among the group who arrived at the train station in Waterloo in July 1924 and walked to the Erb Street Mennonite Church where they were sent to local Mennonite homes for temporary housing. The Enns family stayed with their host family until Feb. 1925, when they moved to Manitoba. However by the fall they returned to Waterloo.

Jacob Enns married Maria Bergen  (23 Sept. 1912-18 Oct. 1992) on 16 March 1935; they had four sons. For most of his working life, Enns was employed at the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada; he retired as supervisor of the office services department. He directed the Mutual Life mixed choir in the 1940s, as well as the singing at company staff meetings parties. His family was active in the Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church. His sons formed a male quartet, and he was the choir director for the church and served until the 1980s. The choir sang in German, Russian and English.

Enns was also active in community organizations, including the Waterloo Young Men's Club, the Ailsa Craig Boys Farm, the K-W Red Cross and the K-W Community Concert Association. He also enjoyed lawn bowling and crokinole.

Custodial history: Donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario by Paul Enns in January 2001, along with a number of published choir books.

Scope and content: The fonds consists of bound choir books. Most are collections which Enns himself compiled for the church from the 1920s through the 1940s. The dates attached to the individual pieces appear to indicate when the piece was used. Thus they are a representation of the choral repertoire of the W-K United Mennonite Choir.

Some of the music was likely copied from collections such as the Liederperlen, which was published prior to the Russian Revolution by Mennonite choirs in Russia and brought to Canada in the 1920s. Enns also took songs from other published sources and transposed from notes into Ziffern in order to provide a wider range of repertoire not found in the earlier Russian Mennonite publications. Most of the choir books use the numeric ("Ziffern") notation. (From an interview of Jake Enns by Peter Letkemann summarized in an email from Letkemann in January 2001.)

Item 2 (1904-1912 manuscript) is also available on a DVD showing a scan of all the pages. There is also a detailed contents listing prepared by Peter Letkemann.

Notes: Original archival description created February 2001 by Sam Steiner.

File list:

Choir books

  1. W.J. Pitcher, "'Zest' is his middle name : J.H. Enns, musician," Photocopy of K-W Record article, 1976
  2. Bound manuscript score, 580 p., plus index. Spine title: "Liederperlen"; title page missing; dates, 1904-1912; according to Peter Letkemann this volume originates from the Gnadenfeld community, and indicate the chorale repertoire of one of the foremost choirs in Russia.
  3. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1928-1931 (no. t.p., various pagings)
  4. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1930-1934 (no t.p., various pagings)
  5. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1927-1928 (no t.p., various pagings)
  6. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1931-1933 (no t.p., various pagings)
  7. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1932-1936 (no t.p., various pagings)
  8. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1930-1938 (no t.p., various pagings)
  9. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1938-1941 (no t.p., various pagings)
  10. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1939-1940 (no t.p., various pagings)
  11. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1942-1948 (no t.p., various pagings)
  12. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1942-1950 (no t.p., various pagings)
  13. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1950-1954 (no t.p., various pagings)
  14. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1950-1954 (no t.p., various pagings)
  15. Bound spirit-duplicated score, dated 1951-1960s (no t.p., various pagings) (regular musical notation)
  16. Hieraus gen Jerusalem: Passionsoratorium von Aug. R?ker, n.d.
  17. Nach Bethlehem : ein Weihnachtsoratorium, 1953

​Back to personal collections listing page

Return to top


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