History of the Mennonite Heritage Archives


1933: The delegates of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada approved a recommendation by Bernhard J. Schellenberg to start an archives program.  For some years Schellenberg was in conversation with Peter Braun who was in charge of an archival collection in Russia, which was confiscated by the Russian government.

1933–1940: Bernhard J. Schellenberg was appointed by the Conference of Mennonites in Canada as Conference Archivist.

1941–1958: The work came under the direction of Benjamin Ewert.

1958–1966: Gerhard Lohrenz.

Gerhard Lohrenz
Gerhard Lohrenz

1966–1973: Henry H. Epp. By this time two special archives rooms for the collection had been set up at the Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Epp created a classification system.

1974: An expanded program of heritage preservation began when Lawrence Klippenstein was asked to serve as archivist on a part-time basis. A five-member board was appointed as well as a secretary / receptionist. Numerous volunteers also helped staff the Centre.

1978: The Mennonite Heritage Centre became a reality with a generous gift of the Peter W. Enns Family Foundation of Winkler, Manitoba, that made building the Mennonite Heritage Centre possible. Its dedication took place in January 1979.

Consturction of the Mennonite Heritage Centre in 1978
Construction of the Mennonite Heritage Centre in 1978

1984: Dennis Stoesz served as interim archivist and Peter Rempel as acting archivist 1992-1993 when Lawrence Klippenstein took a study leave and later a MCC assignment in Moscow.

1992: Connie Wiebe was hired as the administrative assistant.

1994: Alf Redekopp was hired on a half time basis as archivist and Klippenstein then served as director of the MHC.

1997: Lawrence Klippenstein resigned, succeeded by Ken Reddig.

Lawrence Klippenstein looking at an old book in the vault of the Mennonite Heritage Archives in 1984
Lawrence Klippenstein looking at an old book in the vault of the Mennonite Heritage Archives in 1984

1998: The Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery program was started when the gable was added to the Gallery, enclosing the patio, and Reddig hired Ray Dirks.

1999: Reddig resigned, Alf Redekopp became director, and Conrad Stoesz was hired as half time archivist.

2004: the thematic website www.alternativeservice.ca is launched featuring Canadian conscientious objectors during World War Two.

2013: Alf Redekopp retired in 2013 and Korey Dyck became the director.

2015: The Mennonite Heritage Centre is part of the collaborative online project Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID)

2017: Korey Dyck leaves in January 2017.

2017: On June 1, Conrad Stoesz takes over the archival program, which becomes supported by Canadian Mennonite University, Mennonite Church Canada, and the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies. The Gallery moved from a program of the archives to a program of CMU. The name of the program is changed to “Mennonite Heritage Archives” or MHA.

2018: Selenna Wolfe began working as the administrative assistant (archives and gallery), filling in for Connie Wiebe while on leave.

2019: September 1, Connie Wiebe retired and Selenna Wolfe is hired as the Administrative Assistant for the archives and Gallery programs.

2020: Sara Dyck begins contract work in the fall.

2022: July Selenna goes on maternity leave and Graeme Unrau is hired.

2022: MHA launches digital platform digitizing newspapers and magazines.

2023: Graeme starts his permanent position at MHA July 1, 2023.