Classification scheme: 
Hist.Mss.1.300 (s.c.)

Title: Leonard and Nora Bechtel fonds

Dates of creation: 1942-1999; 1942-1943 predominant

Physical description: 4 cm of textual records ; 3 objects

Biographical sketch:  Born in Waterloo Township, Leonard Albert Bechtel married Nora (Brubacher) in June 1941. As a conscientious objector, he performed Alternative Service in British Columbia, mostly at Alternative Service work camps at Emory Creek (summer 1942) and Cowichan Lake (1942-1943). He was assigned to Victoria and Vancouver to work on a project creating portable sawmills (winter 1942/1943). He returned home in November 1943 to Nora and his firstborn child David, who had been a baby when he left for British Columbia. After the war, he started L.A. Bechtel Construction and later Preston Building Supply. The couple had six children and died a few weeks apart in 2009.

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives by David Bechtel, Sept 2016

Scope and content: The fonds consists predominantly of an album of letters and photographs created by Nora in 1989/1990. The photographs are of Leonard's Alternative Service experiences, and the letters were written between Leonard and Nora while he was in British Columbia. To the album, Nora added in some recollections of their experiences during their time apart, and inserted presentations given in later years. Leonard's official notices from the Department of National War Services are also included.

Also included are objects: boxes for holding letter to each other made by Len and Nora, Len Bechtel's British Columbia Forest Service firefighter identification tag.

Notes: See also Leonard Bechtel's interview as part of the Alternative Service in World War II oral history project, Hist.Mss.22.1.14.

Photographs donated to the Archives by Bechtel after his interview in 1975 are part of Hist.Mss.22.1. Most can be viewed in the Mennonite Archival Image Database:

Textual records are located in Small Collections (s.c.); Objects are located in Oversize materials.

File list:

  1. Album, letters and notes
  2. Album, letters and notes (continued)
  3. Objects
    1 box : wood, inscribed "Letter: my wife"
    1 box : cloth, inscribed "Leonard"
    1 medallion : inscribed "B.C. Forest Service: Firefighters Identification Number 8242"


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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