Still Speaking

Conrad recording Still Speaking, a radio show
Conrad recording Still Speaking, a radio show produced for Golden West Radio

Still Speaking is a radio show created by Conrad Stoesz, the archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Archives. These five-minute stories are currently airing on Golden West Radio 950, 1220 and 1250 AM Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 12:30 and 12:45 pm (CST). You can stream it live here. We are also sharing the stories on our site below!

Still Speaking tells stories about people, places, and events preserved in documents and artifacts in our archives. Our aim is to learn about the past, the role of archives in society, and give you something to think about. Together we can listen to the people of the past “still speaking.”

Conrad Stoesz introduces “Still Speaking” on the CFAM 950 program Face2Face On Air

Still Speaking Season 2 Episodes

To listen to an episode click on desired episode title, which will bring you to the audio and pictures for that episode.

Still Speaking Season 1 Episodes

To listen to an episode click on desired episode title, which will bring you to the audio and pictures for that episode.

Season 2 Season Review

Listen to Mennonite Heritage Archives Archivist Conrad Stoesz describe the journey of making Season 2 of Still Speaking in an interview with Christ Sumner of Pembina Valley Online on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023. Conrad describes the inspiration and creative process, and answers the question: “Will there be a Season 3?”.

Listen to the interview between Chris and Conrad below:

Read the story from Pembina Valley Online here.

Season 2: Episode 13 – Left Behind

“We talk a lot about the move of people to Canada, but what about the people that were left behind?” Anna Reimer (Peters) maintained contact with her family in Canada was by letter, forming a record of their experience, both in what they said and what they could not say.

The following four images are part of Letters from Russia Vol. A 1925-1929, a collection of letters between Anna Reimer geb. Peters (1858-1935) and her children in Canada. Translated, typed, and printed by Elizabeth and Edward Enns, Ruth Enns, Con Enns 1994. MHA Vol. 6686-8.

Season 2: Episode 12 – Jacob Hoemsen

Not one to shy away from danger, Jacob Hoemsen was an adventurer who spent time in the forestry service, and as a medic in multiple wars. This spirit of adventure would serve him well when he decided to emigrate.

In this photo 33 young men pose outside a large brick building. They are wearing their Forstei uniforms. As conscientious objectors, work in the was an alternative to military service. 3rd row from bottom, 4th from right is Jacob Hoemsen. CA MHC PP-2 Photo Col. 594-4.0.
Certificate commending Jacob on his work and involvement in the Russo-Japanese War as a medical attendant and clerk. Translation below. MHA Vol. 2320-2.
Translation of the certificate commending Jacob on his work and involvement in the Russo-Japanese War as a medical attendant and clerk. MHA Vol. 2320-2.
This 1925 document released Jacob from service in preparation for emigration to Canada. The English translation reads: “20 May 1925: Attestat from the Director – Burgel – and Secretary – Lammert – thanking Hoemsen for his service as accountant for the Germain Raion of Halbstadt, and releasing him from his employment – at his own request- in order that he may emigrate to Canada”. MHA Vol. 2751 – 8.

Season 2: Episode 11 – Crossing Borders

Today, passports are a ubiquitous part of crossing international borders. That was not always the case. With an evolving set of documents required for Mennonites fleeing the Soviet Union in the 1920’s, an evolving political situation in the new Soviet Union, and increasing public and political opposition to newcomers in the postwar era, the challenges faced by Mennonites fleeing were enormous. Not all were able to overcome them.

The cover of the passport issued to Jacob Kran (Krahn) in 1926. MHA Accession 2019 – 46.
Interior page of Jacob Kran’s (Krahn) passport. Jacob Kran was born in Schoenhorst, Chortitza, in what was South Russia, now Ukraine, on September 16, 1874. He died on May 27, 1947 and is buried in Tugaske, Saskatchewan. He travelled with his wife Helena (geb. Bergen) and three children, as indicated in the document below. MHA Accession 2019 – 046.
Stapled to the inside cover of Jacob Kran’s (Krahn) passport, the identification card from the Canadian Pacific Railway. Note the destination is listed as the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization at Rosthern. MHA Accession 2019 – 46.
The back of the interior page of Jacob Kran’s (Krahn) passport. Note the Canadian civil inspection and the ‘Department of Health’ stamps in the upper right corner. Many emigrants were detained for months and even years due to health conditions that made them inadmissible to Canada. MHA Accession 2019 – 046.

Season 2: Episode 10 – A Wreath of Remembrance

If you were forced to flee your home, what would you bring with you? Jacob Esau chose a unique family item. Listen below to learn more.

Jacob Esau
The wreath, now located in the Mennonite Heritage Archives.
A detail of the wreath showing the intricate beadwork and different colours of hair used.

Season 2: Episode 9 – The Power of a Song

Songs can mark occasions both grim and joyful, the most power moments in our lives are often marked by simple lyrics and melody. In this episode, Conrad Stoesz recounts two stories of the power of song in the Paetkau family story.

Listen to ‘Nun Danket Alle Gott’ (Now Thank We All Our God)

Abram and Elisabeth Petkau and their family.
The mill where the Petkau family sheltered in Einlage, Ukraine.
A service of thanks at the train station in Riga, Latvia.
The Red Gate marking the boundary between the Soviet Union and Latvia.

Season 2: Episode 8 – K.H. Neufeld

With a degree in civil engineering, how did Kornelius Herman Neufeld become known as “the wandering conductor”? The story of a Manitoban music pioneer that introduced generations to choral music, both in and outside of the Mennonite Church.

Sketch of K.H. Neufeld. Artist unknown.
Immigrant Russlaender Choir 1924. CA MHC 209-8.0. 1924.
K.H. Neufeld on right hand side in light-coloured suit. CA MHC 209-13.0. 1942.
This photo is of the gathered Saengerfest (Song festival choir) led by K.H. Neufeld outside the Reinland church in Reinland Manitoba. 1942. MHC CA MHC 209-14.0. June 14, 1942.
This photo is of 18 young men and women on their way to a song festival (Sängerfest) in the Didsbury, Alberta area. Gerhard Harder is the second from the last in the back of the truck. The Rosemary choir under the direction of Gerhard (George) Harder on a trip by truck to the Alberta Saengerfest (song festival) in Didsbury, Alberta. It was reported that the choir arrived in Didsbury, dusty and sun and wind burnt, washed up at the water pump, and enjoyed the Didsbury hospitality at the festival , most likely hosted at the Didsbury Bergthaler Mennonite Church. CA MHC 209-15.0. 1934.
Music written by KH Neufeld and used by youth choirs.

Season 2: Episode 7 – The Case of Cornelius Unger

Historian Dr. Hans Werner joins Archivist Conrad Stoesz to explore the case of Cornelius Unger and the wider government response to mental illness among Mennonite immigrants.

Telegram stating Cornelius Unger has been taken away for deportation. MHA Vol. 1261.
Letter from David Toews of the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization to Thomas Gelley regarding the deportation of Cornelis Unger (b. 1899) to the Soviet Union in 1931.  MHA Vol. 1261. 
Night letter – Cornelius Unger to arrive at psychotherapeutic hospital, Leningrad. MHA Vol. 1261.

Season 2: Episode 6 – Isaak Toews

“In the early fall of 1961, a sealed casket arrived in Niverville, Manitoba…”. Isaak Toews found it hard to adjust to life in Canada, but when he accepted a new job with the Canadian Government during World War II, his life changed.

Season 2: Episode 5 – The 1920’s Migration and Daniel P. Enns

“A brutal war, civil war in Russia, and famine had forced many to make the hard decision: leave, or stay and pray that peace would return.”

This is a photo of Daniel P. Enns (D.P. Enns) sitting at a desk in an office. He worked for the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization. CA MHC PP-Photo Coll. 470-21.0. 1936?.
The ledger page for Jacob Heinrich Wedel’s Reiseschuld. The ledgers are located at the Mennonite Heritage Archives.
The ledgers documenting the Reiseschuld along with an image of David Toews, Charirman of the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization 1922-1946.

Season 2: Episode 4 – City Councillor Jacob Penner

“Jacob Penner grew up in a very wealthy Mennonite family in Russia”. Despite his privileged upbringing, Jacob became an unlikely champion of the Winnipeg working class, a founding member of the Communist Party of Canada, and even spent 18 months in prison due to these connections during World War 2.

Jacob Penner – the daring young man on a motorcycle (centre).
Jacob and Rose Penner (née Shapack) as a young couple.
Jacob Penner as a young man
Jacob ad Rose Penner in retirement.

Season 2: Episode 3 – The Mennonite Heritage Archives

“The Mennonite Heritage Archives holds thousands of stories but the archives itself has stories to tell”. Archivist Conrad Stoesz provides some background on how the present institution came to be, including challenges faced and the people that stewarded it along the way.

Bernhard Schellenberg, archivist 1933-1941. CA MHC 626-1.0. 1940’s.
CMBC campus at 515 Wellington Crescent in Winnipeg during the 1950 flood. The archive was located in the basement. The mansion was eventually demolished. The site is now included in Munson Park. CA MHC 632-20.0. 1950.
Mennonite Heritage Center under construction: the north and south walls being erected. The current archives was built in 1978 and was funded through the generosity of P.W. Ens of Winkler. CA MHC 422-35.0. March 23, 1978.

Season 2: Episode 2 – Gerhard Ens

“He was a husband and father, a teacher and principle at MCI, he was the editor of the German language paper Der Bote, he was a founding member of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, and a long time board member of the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach.”

The Mennonite Heritage Archives has over 1400 of Gerhard Ens’ broadcasts in its collection. The typical cassette maintains audio quality for 30 – 40 years and many are nearing the end of their lifespan. Our goal is to digitize Gerhard Ens’ broadcasts but this process takes time and labour. Please consider donating $10.00 for one broadcast, or $20.00 a cassette:

Listen to recently digitized Gerhard Ens recordings from the Mennonite Heritage Archives below:

Audio Cassette 2987-73 First Christmas in Canada 1875

Audio Cassette 2987-74 Menno Simons

Gerhard Ens (centre) at the relocation ceremony of Heinrich Wiebe’s gravestone. CA MHC 030-25.0. 1973.
CMC Annual Sessions (Winnipeg) 1983. CA MHC ORG-E-321-889.0.
Gerhard Ens tapes at the Mennonite Heritage Archives.
Gerhard Ens. CA MHC 603-586.0.

Season 2: Episode 1 – Anna Thiessen

“As a young woman, Anna Thiessen wanted to be a missionary in India.” Anna ended up much closer to home, advocating for and ministering to thousands of young Mennonite women working as domestic help in early to mid 20th century Winnipeg.

Nine young women standing on the front steps of a house with their friend, Anna Thiessen, the matron of the Mary Martha Home in Winnipeg. Front row 3rd from left is Anna Thiessen. The original is at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg. 1940’s. CA MHC 625-2.0
Three young Mennonite women posing for a photo in their uniforms in Winnipeg where they worked as domestic servants. The original is at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg. 1940’s. CA MHC 625-3.0
Four young women dressed for cool weather standing outside the Mary Martha Home in Winnipeg. These young women work as domestic servants in Winnipeg. The original is at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg. 1930’s. CA MHC 625-1.0
Photo taken in Vancouver, BC at a home for young women situated there. The home was also referred to as a Maedchenheim. The ladies have been identified from left to right as Mariechen, Greta, Agnes, Tina and Helen Rempel. October 1938. CA MHC 629-M-98.0
A large group of young women posing for a photo with Anna Thiessen, Matron of the Mary Martha Home in Winnipeg. The young women worked as domestic servants in Winnipeg. 3rd row from front, 9th from left is Anna Thiessen. The original is at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg. 1930’s. CA MHC 625-4.0

Still Speaking Just The Beginning Of Stories At Archives

By Chris Sumner of Golden West radio and
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

It was a little over a week ago we aired the final episode in the first season of Still Speaking, the Mennonite Heritage Archives produced program which examined twelve different stories found within its walls. The program was written and voiced by Archivist Conrad Stoesz and aired on Golden West radio station across Southern Manitoba, and it definitely struck a chord with you considering the positive feedback we received.

Conrad was our guest Wednesday morning, and he spoke with Co-Host Chris Sumner about where the inspiration for the program came from.

Chris also asked Conrad to reflect on what his favourite stories were from the initial twelve he shared.

If you missed an episode of Still Speaking, or would like to have another listen to a favourite, you can do that below.

*To read the original CFAM Blog post please visit

Season 1: Episode 12 – Peter Dyck

“At the Archives we have a copy of Adolf Hitler’s infamous book Mein Kampf, but this copy tells an unexpected story.” Listen to the last episode of Still Speaking, Season 1 for an exceptional story from the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

Episode 12, Still Speaking – Peter Dyck
Peter Dyck’s copy of Mein Kampf
Letter to the Dyck family from Alfred’s son, Gerhard Birr says, “The care packages were a God send in the years of hunger.”

Season 1: Episode 11 – P.W. Enns

“Where would you turn for advice if you were asked to give a big chuck of your wealth away?” P.W. Enns was asked just this and find out what Enns did in the eleventh episode of Still Speaking.

Episode 11, Still Speaking – P.W. Enns
Mennonite Heritage Centre Construction, 1978
Mennonite Heritage Centre in the 1980s
Mennonite Heritage Centre in 2019
The doors P.W. Enns created for the Mennonite Heritage Centre, 1983
P.W. Enns’ doors have been moved inside the Mennonite Heritage Centre and this plaque accompanies them. The plaque reads:
“In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.”
These doors with the Biblical text from John 1:1 were designed and carved by Peter W. Enns (1912-2004)
The doors hung at the entrance to this building from 1978 until they were removed for restoration and permanent display in 2005.
Made possible through the generous support of Almar Distributors Ltd. (Winnipeg) and Phil Ens, Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Winkler)

Season 1: Episode 10 – Jacob Fehr

“What was it like immigrating to Canada in the 1870s – the writings of a 16-year-old teenager, Jacob Fehr, gives us a glimpse.”

Episode 10, Still Speaking – Jacob Fehr
S.S. Sarmatian crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1878. This was the ship which carried young Jacob Fehr (1859-1952) and 118 Old Colony and Bergthaler families from Liverpool arriving in Quebec City on July 6, 1875.
Copies of letters by Gerhard Dyck
Copy of a letter from Jacob Fehr
Journal of Jacob Fehr

Season 1: Episode 9 – John Dennis

“I have a question for you. How much is a good reputation worth? Can just a reputation and no cash save a whole community?”

Continue to ponder these questions while listening to Episode 9 of Still Speaking.

Episode 9, Still Speaking – John Dennis
John Dennis
Photo of David Toews with Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization (CMBoC) financial ledgers in the background.
Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization (CMBoC) financial ledgers that contain records of Mennonite family’s travel debts.
Example of a family’s travel debt record with the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization (CMBoC).
S.S. International, the boat John Dennis worked on as a young man.

Season 1: Episode 8 – Education

“We like to think Canada is a great place to live.  But in the 1920’s 7000 people said no thanks and left.”

Episode 8, Still Speaking – Education
1873 Letter of Invitation was written in English and German
1873 Letter of Invitation in English, page 1
1873 Letter of Invitation in English, page 2
1873 Letter of Invitation in English, page 3
1873 Letter of Invitation in English, page 4
1873 Letter of Invitation in English, page 5

Season 1: Episode 7 – Ice Ship

“Did you know that Canadians opposed to war helped build a secret weapon?”

Find out more in the 7th episode of Still Speaking.

Episode 7, Still Speaking – Ice Ship
Conscientious Objectors (COs) cutting ice from lake for Habbakuk project.

David Goerzen was a Conscientious Objector (CO) who worked on the Habbukuk project. Below are three clips from an interview with David about his time working on the project.

When the COs got to the site location they started to build the frame out of wood. The frame was 30 feet wide, 60 feet long and 20 feet high.
Ice was cut from the lake for the huge ice ship.
David Goerzen only found out long after his service what he was helping to build. In the circumstances he was in he felt it was best that he just did what he was told and not ask questions.
Page 1 of letter to Rev. D.D. Toews from Rev John Wiebe regarding his visit to CO camps, 22 March 1943. (MHC, 1323-946)
Page 2 of letter to Rev. D.D. Toews from Rev John Wiebe regarding his visit to CO camps, 22 March 1943. (MHC, 1323-946)

English translation of Rev. John Wiebe’s letter:

16 Mile Camp, Rad[ium] Hot Spr[ings]
March 22, 1943
Rev. D.D. Toews
Rosthern, Sask.

Dear Brother Toews:

It has been some time since I last reported to you. Since then you have been seriously ill in hospital. I have heard that you are at home now and that your health is improved, thank God.

Upon request of the Committee, I travelled to Jasper on February 3. The first difficulties arose through the [Seventh Day] Adventists who are strongly represented there. Because of their confrontational arguments I was compelled to give clarity to the men re. law and grace, the annihilation teaching, eternal damnation, etc. Later we managed to get together again in a reasonable manner. I seek for unity in the camp but not as the expense of the truth.

The work at present is hard and is primarily at Jasper. On the ice of Lake Edith they are building a box 60 x 30 and 20 feet high, which is to be filled with ice and then sunk. Since spring is approaching, they are rushing to be finished with the work on the ice and thus are working day and night in two 11 hour shifts.

I also visited the 3 camps at Seebe for several days. The worship services were well attended and we experienced the blessing of the Lord. However, a certain pressure rests upon the men at Seebe which people at home don’t know. This results from the continuing harsh treatment and dirty work. They are building “mine props” which, in spite of the hard work, they are not able to supply in sufficient number. I spoke to Mr. Holman, of a higher Board in the National Forestry Reserve. Mr. Holman’s office is here in Calgary. Since then, Brother Penner reports that the treatment is better. Brother Penner is a minister of the Holdeman Church and served in Seebe after me.

Arriving in Banff, I visited the Wesley Ewerts and also the camps for several days upon the wish of Brother B.B. Janz of Coaldale. Since the road to Radium Hot Springs was closed and there was no chance for a ride, I travelled the long detour via Golden. Now I’m working here at 16 Mile Camp. The 21 Mile Camp is 5 miles away, but I cannot visit there now since 4 young men have the mumps and the doctor has quarantined the camp. If I come in contact with the men over there, I will have to stay for 15 days after the last of the men are well. I can’t do that. I don’t know what they will do with those who are now getting farm leave.

By means of physical work, I earn my meals as I also did in Jasper and Seebe. I want to go back to both those stations before I leave for home.

Enclosed are the lists for the camps.

Respectfully yours and wishing you health, I remain yours in Christ!

John I. Wiebe
16-Mile Camp
Radium Hot Springs, BC

Season 1: Episode 6 – Sherryl Koop and the CRA

“Sherryl stood in front of the judge in the tax court of Canada. She managed to assemble some good evidence, but would it be enough?” Conrad asks on the sixth episode of Still Speaking.

Episode 6, Still Speaking – Sherryl Koop and the CRA
An example of files within a church volume at the archives.
An example of files within a church volume at the archives.
An example of bulletins held at the archives.
An example of bulletins held at the archives.
An example of bulletins held at the archives.
An example of the variety of bulletins at the archives.

Season 1: Episode 5 – Martin Klaassen

“Ever wonder what your ancestors thought about 150 years ago?  Esther did – but first she had to crack the code!”

Listen to this five minute episode of Still Speaking to find out how Esther cracked the code.

Episode 5, Still Speaking – Martin Klaassen
Klaassen's old diary is open and lies flat. The seem where the pages are supposed to come together has torn apart
Klaassen’s diary
A shot of Klaassen's daily entries
A shot of Klaassen’s daily entries
Diary entry written in code
Diary entry written in code
Klaassen's code written in his diary amoung his typical gothic script german
Klaassen’s code Esther cracked

Season 1: Episode 4 – Nickel Mines

“Do you remember the school shooting in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania in 2006?” Conrad asks on episode four of Still Speaking. “This old book I am holding,” he continues, “has something to do with the Amish response to the events on that violent day.”

Episode 4, Still Speaking – Nickel Mines
Two Martyrs Mirror Books from 1814
Two Martyrs Mirror Books from 1814
Inside page of the Martyrs Mirror, 1814
Inside the Martyrs Mirror, 1814
Dirk Willms picture inside the Martyrs Mirror, 1964
Dirk Willms picture inside the Martyrs Mirror, 1964

Season 1: Episode 3 – Regina

“I often get asked what archives collect – let my story help answer this question – it will stop you dead in your tracks,” Conrad exclaims in the third episode of Still Speaking. Listen to the five minute story to learn why things aren’t always as they seem.

Episode 3, Still Speaking – Regina
The Carl Ruppel family, mid- to late- 1890s

Season 1: Episode 2 – Johannes Dyck

Don’t believe everything you read in your history textbooks.

In this second episode of Still Speaking, Conrad Stoesz tells the interesting story of Johannes Dyck.

Episode 2, Still Speaking – Johannes Dyck
Johannes Dyck’s Diaries
Johannes Dyck’s Diary and Legacy
A Pilgrim People: Volume 2
Johannes Dyck’s Legacy
Johannes Dyck’s writing

Season 1: Episode 1 – A Doll Story

In the first episode of Still Speaking, Conrad Stoesz tells the story of Johannes Dyck and his family’s journey from Russia to Canada. But what does a doll have to do with the family’s escape? Listen to the short 5 minute story to find out.

Episode 1, Still Speaking – Johannes Dyck
Close up of Doll from Johannes Dyck's Collection
Close up of Doll from Johannes Dyck’s Collection
Doll from Johannes Dyck's Collection
Doll from Johannes Dyck’s Collection
Doll with apron from Johannes Dyck's Collection
Doll with apron from Johannes Dyck’s Collection
Doll with purple muffler from Johannes Dyck's Collection
Doll with purple muffler from Johannes Dyck’s Collection