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Preserving the voices of the past

A group photo and journal from the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

A variety of archival materials from the Mennonite Heritage Archives, such as a photograph, blueprints, books and a film reel.

Conrad Stoesz, archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Archives, holds an old newspaper.

Files upon files in the back room of the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

Andrew Brown scans and describes photos for the Mennonite Archival Image Database at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies archives in Winnipeg. (MB Herald photo by Karla Braun)

Conrad Stoesz, archivist, working at the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

“This is our collective memory,” says Conrad Stoesz, gesturing to a long hallway filled with row upon row of shelves, packed with files and boxes. Stoesz is the archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Archives (MHA), located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.

OK Economy Store

Katie Funk Wiebe Photo Collection / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

“In the spring of 1928, not quite 15 years after the settlement had begun, Jake Funk opened the new red-brick store on a prominent corner of Main Street in Blaine Lake, Sask.

Bloodvein Reserve

Photo courtesy of the Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Many years ago, our archives first described this photograph as “School children at Bloodvein Reserve, ca. 1956.” The subject heading included the phrase, “Indians of North America,” correct for the time.

‘Serving the Lord with gladness’

Opening of the MCC Ontario building in 1964. Pictured from left to right: MCC executive secretary William Snyder, Fred Nighswander, Henry H. Epp and Abner Cressman. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record file photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When Kathy Hildebrand attended the 1969 annual MCC meeting, she commented to executive secretary William Snyder, ‘I didn’t come to shop at Marshall Field! I came to hear what MCC is doing.’ (Burton Buller photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

William Snyder, MCC’s executive secretary, left, congratulates the retired Orie O. Miller, MCC executive secretary emeritus, at a dinner honouring him on his 75th birthday at the 1968 annual meeting of MCC in Chicago. (CM photograph collection / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When the indomitable Orie O. Miller retired from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in 1958, there was a lot of speculation about who would fill his big shoes. In Miller’s mind, though, that question had been settled years earlier, when he chose, out of the rich Civilian Public Service (CPS) talent pool, the unpresumptuous William Thomas Snyder to be his associate.

Moose Lake Dock

Pondering on the dock at Camp Moose Lake. After years of soul searching, Mennonite Church Manitoba has sold its Camp Moose Lake property located in the southeastern corner of the province. Since 1957, the camp has been an integral part of the regional (formerly area) church, congregations, young people and children. For decades, the camp enjoyed vigorous support from many rural congregations.

CMBC choir

George Wiebe conducts the Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) choir in an impromptu song on a B.C. ferry while on tour in May 1966. The choir gave 24 performances in 17 days, and 39 of the 43 singers also spoke at these events. The tour was an important community-building event for the choir members, but also for the school and supporting congregations.

Goodbye Berlin

Gordon Eby captured the moment when families in Berlin, Ont., said goodbye to local troops at the start of the First World War in 1914. In 1916, concerned that its Germanic name was bad for business, the city would say ‘goodbye’ to Berlin and ‘hello’ to Kitchener. The Berlin Mennonite Church faced a dilemma. Should it adopt the name of the ‘warlord’ war hero Lord Kitchener?

1960s radio broadcast of a men's quartet

This photo is of a men’s quartet singing for a radio broadcast in a Vancouver Mennonite church basement circa the 1960s. Advances in mass communication such as radio were first met with suspicion and in some cases were banned in Mennonite communities warning about worldly influences entering the home and community. Committees were established to consider the best response to these innovations.

We Shall Remain

We Shall Remain is the title of a documentary series by PBS. We watched a few of the episodes while living in Virginia, where we heard very little of indigenous people, culture, or history. Whenever we asked about it, people we talked to said, "oh yeah, there used to be lots of indigenous people in this area" and would point to the main highways running through as ancient trade routes and the name of the valley "Shenandoah" as an indigenous name.

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