Classification scheme: 

Title: John H. and Helen (Bergen) Dick family fonds

Physical description: 28 cm of textual records ; 2 scrapbooks ; 28 audio cassette tapes ; 7 reel-to-reel audio tapes ; 9 8mm film reels ; 5 audio compact discs ; 6 digital video discs ; 3 Mini-DVDs ; 13 video cassette tapes ; 250 photographs (col. slides) ; 1 photograph (digital)

Dates of creation: ca. 1905-2020 (predominantly 1942-2005)

Biographical sketch: John H. Dick (1921-2020) was born in Alexanderkrone, South Russia to John J. (1893-1986) and Maria (Wiens) Dick (1898-1984). His paternal grandfather was Johann P. Dück (1857-1914). John and Maria and their family immigrated to Canada in 1924, and after a brief time in the Tavistock area settled in Essex County in 1926, where they purchased a farm near Ruthven in 1940.  Helen Bergen (b. 1924) came to Canada with her parents (Wilhelm and Maria (Ens) Bergen) in 1926 and lived in Saskatchewan and Manitoba before settling in Ontario. John H. and Helen married in 1945; they had five children.

Due to his mother's illness, John left school at age 12 but retained a lifelong interest in learning. A member of Leamington United Mennonite Church, he served a term as a conscientious objector in the Alternative Service program at Montreal River work camp in 1942. Shortly after their marriage, John and Helen bought a run-down farm on the 6th concession which they turned into a prosperous fruit and vegetable farm ("Sandy Acres").

John Dick took an active role in the community, serving on local public school boards and on the board of Conrad Grebel University College and United Mennonite Educational Institute. He was also a reeve with the Mersea Township Council and later served on the Essex County Council. John and Helen were also active volunteers with Mennonite Central Committee. After 53 years of farming, the couple retired to Leamington in 1999.

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives by Ernest J. Dick in 2016

Scope and content: The fonds reflects the active interest in the family history of Johann P. Dück and his descendants on the part of John H. Dick and his son Ernest. It includes family documents, recollections of family members in written and interview formats, and audio and audiovisual recordings of family events. The fonds also details family farm life in Essex County in the later half of the 20th century. Ernest Dick's involvement with Canadian Mennonite history and public policy projects in Ottawa in the 1960s and 1970s is also reflected.

Notes: Archival description created by Laureen Harder-Gissing in 2020.
See also: Dick, Ernest J. Courage, Courage, the Lord Will Help : the Family History of Johann P. Dück and Descendants from Schönfeld, Southern Russia. Leamington, Ont: John H. Dick, 1990.

File list:

Series 1: Textual records

Sub-series 1: Johann P. Dück family history
Note: This sub-series consists contains information gathered by Ernest Dick for Courage, Courage the Lord will Help, a family history book recounting the lives of Johann P. Dück and his two wives Anna Driedger (1864-1889) Margarethe Enns (1865-1919) and their 12 children. The family settled in Schoenbrun, in the Schoenfeld Mennonite settlement. The family name was spelled "Dück" before immigration to Canada, where members chose the variant spellings Dick, Dueck or Dyck.

  1. Genealogies
  2. John J. Dick recollections
  3. John J. Dick family immigration records
  4. Johann P. Dück family reunion, 1990
    See also Hist.Mss.1.330.3.2/7 for sound recording.
  5. Johann P. Dück diary and will (photocopies with translations)
  6. Johann P. Dück descendants' recollections
  7. Letters from Peter J. Dück in the Soviet Union
  8. Schoenfeld settlement recollections
    Note: A substantive memoir by Jacob P. Driedger was withdrawn from this file and relocated to the Jacob P. Driedger fonds
  9. Book correspondence

Sub-series 2: John H. Dick

  1. Alternative Service
    Note: The following articles were withdrawn and are available in the Milton Good Library: David Fransen, "Mennonites in World War II," Mennonite Reporter, 10 Jul 1978; Reimer, Ellie, "Some Went to War, Some Served at Home," Canadian Mennonite, 28 Oct 1998.
  2. Sandy Acres land ownership documents
  3. Speeches, etc.
    Note: Speeches and other items related to Dick's role on school boards and municipal councils. Also includes an obituary of John H. Dick (2020). See also the scrapbook "John H. Dick: Church, School, Community."

Sub-series 3: Ernest J. Dick
Note: Ernest Dick is the son of John H. Dick and grandson of John J. Dick. Files in this sub-series include research papers, correspondence and reports from various projects relating to Mennonite history and Mennonites and public policy. Textual records of his family film project "Sandy Acres Farewell" are also located here. Dick had a career as an audiovisual archivist.

  1. Mennonites and religious freedom in Canada, 1963, 1967-1969
    Note: Includes two student papers by Dick: "Religious Freedom by Default," and "Anabaptism as Heresy."
  2. Mennonite Central Committee research,1970-1971, 1974
    Note: Includes a dialogue about "refugee Americans" (draft dodgers), research on tax reform and comments on Ernie Regehr's defence research. The following was withdrawn and a copy is available in the Milton Good Library: Janzen, Bill, "The Church and Public Policy," Canadian Mennonite, 21 Jun 1999.
  3. Correspondence re Summer Voluntary Service in Ottawa, 1969-1971
  4. Summer Voluntary Service reports, 1970-1971
  5. Mennonites in Canada chapter critiques
  6. Mennonites in Canada correspondence
    Note: File predominantly relates to obtaining statistics from the national archives on Canadian Mennonite enlistments in the First and Second World Wars for the Mennonites in Canada project.
  7. Oral history workshops for Mennonite archives, 1976-1977
  8. Research on Erhart Regier
    Note: Includes a draft paper, "Erhart Regier, MP: Anabaptist and Socialist." The following was withdrawn and a copy is located in the Milton Good Library: Dick, Ernest J., "Erhart Regier: His Faith Informed His Politics," Mennonite Reporter, 10 Jan 1977. Erhart Regier was the first Mennonite elected to the Canadian House of Commons.
  9. Sandy Acres film, correspondence and shot lists, 2003-2005
  10. Inventories
    Inventory of archival donation, 2016
    List of "farming and activity" slides

Series 2: Scrapbooks

  1. "John H. Dick: Church, School, Community"
  2. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick family album
  3. Envelope of loose photographs

Series 3: Audio recordings

Sub-series 1: Interviews
Note: This sub-series consists of interviews of family members and others on audio cassette tapes

  1. George Dick by John H. Dick and Ernest J. Dick, St. Catharines, Ontario, 2 Nov 1984
  2. Abraham Berg, 29 Mar 1986
  3. Jacob P. Driedger by Ernest J. Dick and John H. Dick, 29 Mar 1986 (2 tapes)
  4. J. H. [John H.?] Dick, 3 Sept 1996 (2 tapes)
  5. Helen Dick, 3 Sept 1996
  6. John H. and Helen Dick, 5 Sept 1996 (interview about wedding)
  7. John H. Dick, 18 Oct 1999 (interview about farming)
  8. John H. Dick, 19 Oct 1999 (interview about municipal politics)
  9. John H. and Helen Dick, 19 Oct 1999 (interview about being parents)

Sub-series 2: Celebrations, etc.
Note: This sub-series consists of audio cassette tapes

  1. Helen and John H. Dick 25th wedding anniversary, 4 Apr 1970 (3 tapes)
  2. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick 50th wedding anniversary, 8 Jun 1969 (2 tapes, including part of last tape listed above)
  3. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick 60th wedding anniversary, 20 May 1979 (3 tapes)
  4. John H. Dick 60th birthday, 26 Dec 1981
  5. Helen Dick 60th birthday, 17 Mar 1984
  6. Birthday greetings for Helen Dick, Mar 1984
  7. Dick reunion, 30 Jun-1 Jul 1990 (4 tapes)
  8. Maria (Wiens) Dick funeral, 18 Apr 1984
  9. John J. Dick funeral, 17 Jan 1986
  10. John H. Dick speech on 60th anniversary of Mennonites in Essex County, 29 Jun 1985

Sub-series 3: Reel-to-reel audio tapes

  1. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick 50th wedding anniversary, 8 Jun 1969
  2. "Uncle Jake & Uncle George"
  3. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick interview, 1968
  4. Maria (Wiens) and John J. Dick interview, 1974
  5. Helen and John H. Dick 25th wedding anniversary, 4 Apr 1970
  6. John H. Dick interview with Ernest J. Dick, 28 Dec 1974 (Alternative Service and the Second World War, 2 copies)

Sub-series 4: Compact discs

  1. Edward V. Dick playing the banjola, 2007
  2. Dick family gathering, Aug 2006
  3. John H. Dick interviews family members
  4. Miscellaneous family recordings, 1987-1988
  5. Miscellaneous family recordings, 1992-1993

Series 4: Audiovisual recordings

Sub-series 1: 8 mm films
Note: This sub-series consists of home movies of vacations, farm and family life, 1958-1970. An itemized listing is in file Hist.Mss.1.330.1.3/10

Sub-series 2: Mini DVs
Note: This sub-series consists of copies of the 8 mm films listed above, in DV format.

Sub-series 3: Digital video discs

  1. John H. Dick 90th birthday, 2011 (2 discs)
  2. John H. and Helen Dick 65th anniversary, 2010
  3. Henry Dick funeral photographic tribute, 2011 (2 discs)
  4. "Sandy Acres Farewell," 2005 (master)

Sub-series 4: Video cassettes

  1. Copies of the 8 mm films listed above, in VHS format
  2. Sandy Acres farm, 1999 (3 tapes)
  3. Helen and John H. Dick 50th wedding anniversary, 21 May 1995 (2 tapes)
  4. Trip to Mennonite historical sites in Russia by Helen and Charlie Johnson
  5. Frank P. Tiessen interviewed by John H. Dick about early years in Russia (1906-1924), 1988
  6. Mennonite Heritage Cruise and Mennonite Central Committee 75th anniversary in Ukraine, 1995 (2 tapes)
  7. SelfHelp sale, Ottawa, 1994
  8. "Sandy Acres Farewell," 2005

Series 5: Photographs

  1. Tourmagination trip to South America with Rose Hostettler and Cal Redekop, 9-28 Feb 1983 (130 col. slides)
    Note: Slides located in Hist.Mss.10.43.
  2. John H. and Helen Dick farming and family activities, 1970-1990 (80 col. slides)
    Note:Slides located in Hist.Mss.10.43.
  3. Miscellaneous family slides (40 col. slides)
    Note: Slides located in Hist.Mss.10.43.
  4. John H. and Helen Dick 50th anniversary commemorative painting (1 photograph : digital)


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

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238