© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated Aug 24, 2020)

  • Janzen, William, 1943-

  • Retrieval numbers: Vol. 5109-5111

    Title: William Janzen collection
    Dates: 1872-1979
    Extent: 1.1 m of textual records
    Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives

    Historical note

    William (Bill) Janzen (1943-) enrolled in the University of Carleton's political science PhD program in the early 1970s. He collected documents that show the interactions between the Canadian federal and provincial governments and three minority religious groups -- Mennonites, Hutterites, and Doukhobors. In the fall of 1981 he successfully defended his 750-page thesis entitled "The Limits of Liberty in Canada: The Experience of the Mennonites, Hutterites, and Doukhobors". By this same time he was working for Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) in the Ottawa office, advocating for Mennonite concerns with the Canadian government. Limits on Liberty: the Experience of Mennonite, Hutterite and Doukhobor communities in Canada, a new version of his thesis, was published in 1990. Janzen's research led him to examine the major communications between these groups and Canadian governments. Through his studies and publications, Bill Janzen showed how governments have responded on the issues of communal landholding, separate education of their children, exemption from military service, and the modification in welfare-state matters, in order to explore the political culture and institutions that shaped the responses and to account for the limited liberties that were given.

    Scope and content note

    The documents show the interactions between the Canadian government and three minority religious groups -- Mennonites, Hutterites, and Doukhobors. The materials document the issues of communal landholding, special arrangements for the education of their children, exemption from military service, and modification in welfare-state matters. From these materials Janzen identified the underlying patterns in the government's responses.
    Mennonites, Hutterites and Doukhobors are three minority protestant groups with origins in 16th Century Europe, that believed in separation from "the world" or general society. All three groups had a connection with Russia (former Soviet Union) and immigrated to Canada in the late 1800s-mid 1900s after securing some special privileges related to religion, education, and military exemptions from the Canadian government. These groups, sometime classified as Christian sects, settled in group settings in Western Canada, were agrarian based and believed in pacifism and non violence. Each group negotiated with the federal and provincial governments in order to practice their religion as they saw fit. The groups had some similar issues such as conscientious objection and alternative service during times of war. Other issues affected the groups differently. These included education, land settlement and use, and freedom from paying some taxes or contributing to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The documents included private and government correspondence, reports, articles, essays, and newspaper clippings; and, both primary and secondary documentation on all these issues. Almost all the materials are photocopies.

    Index terms


    Janzen, William, 1943-

    Adjunct descriptive data

    Finding aids

    Inventory file list available


    Custodial history

    This material was collected by Bill Janzen in the late 1970s from 4 main sources: The Public Archives of Canada, PAC (now known as Library and Archives Canada); the Benjamin B. Janz fonds at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg (CMBS); Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization fonds held at the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC); and the Saskatchewan Archives Board. They were deposited at the Mennonite Heritage Centre by Janzen in 1998. In 2006 Janzen donated 2 other documents which were added to the collection and in 2020 the file regarding the MCC News Service reports on Old Colony Mennonites was added. 


    English, some German and a small amount of Russian.


    Described by Conrad Stoesz, December 21, 2005, updated March 17, 2006, and Aug 24, 2020.

    Restrictions on access

    None to access

    Immediate source of acquisition

    William Janzen

    Other notes

    Acc. no. 1998-092, 2006-021

    File Inventory List

    VOLUME 5109
    1. Government correspondence regarding Mennonite schools in Saskatchewan. -- 1916-1924.
    2. Correspondence, excerpts from books, and newspaper clippings regarding Mennonite education and Mennonite immigration to Mexico. -- 1916-1923.
    3. Correspondence regarding Mennonite education in Saskatchewan. -- 1908-1918.
    4. Reports and correspondence regarding Mennonite schools in Saskatchewan including setting up public schools, expropriating land for school sites, enforcing attendance, suspension of enforcement, negotiations re: private schools. -- 1915-1919.
    5. Reports and correspondence after school attendance act showing prosecutions. -- 1919-1921.
    6. Excerpts of articles and books dealing with private education and the establishment of public education. -- 1929-1976.
    7. Reports and excerpts of articles dealing with the importance of Land in the Mennonite community. -- 1893-1960.
    8. Excerpts from various publications regarding Russian Mennonites as well as Swiss Mennonites in Ontario. -- 1908-1978.
    9. Saskatchewan Royal commission into the Old Colony Mennonites and education, Warman, SK. -- December28-29, 1908.
    10. Excerpts from Government of Canada Orders in Council regarding Mennonites, Hutterites and Doukhobors. -- 1873-1898.
    11. Correspondence and excerpts from various publications regarding western Mennonites and World War One (WWI). There is also a little bit regarding Hutterites and Doukhobors. -- 1916-1919.
    12. Correspondence regarding Doukhobor registration and exemption in World War Two (WWII), P.G. Makaroff papers. -- 1939-1940. -- Note: some in Russian.
    13. Correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Doukhobors in World War Two (WWII). -- 1939-1943.
    14. Correspondence regarding Mennonites in World War One (WWI), including letters requesting Mennonites who had joined the forces to be released. -- 1908-1918.
    15. Correspondence regarding western Mennonites in World War One (WWI). -- 1877, 1917- 1918.
    16. Canadian laws regulating World War one (WWI). -- 1914, 1918.
    17. Excerpts from various sources regarding Mennonite military service before World War one (WWI), mainly dealing with Mennonites in Ontario. -- 1926, 1957.
    18. Excerpts of government documents regarding Mennonites, Doukhobors, Hutterites and Tunkers and World War one (WWI). Includes material on Ontario Mennonites.
    19. Correspondence regarding Ontario Mennonites and World War one (WWI). -- 1917-1918.
    20. Excerpts from Koozma Tarasoff book "In Search of Brotherhood", p. 486-888. -- [ca. 1963]. -- Re: Doukhobors in Canada.
    21. Newspaper excerpts regarding Doukhobors and problem around World War Two (WWII). -- 1934-1941,1976. -- Note: some in Russian.
    22. Correspondence from Mennonites in Ontario regarding World War one (WWI) and reports and correspondence relating to the negotiations between Canadian Mennonite leaders and the government regarding the options for alternative service and the conditions in the camps. -- 1917-1918, 1941-1943.
    23. Correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Doukhobors and World War one (WWI). -- 1917-1919.
    24. Excerpts from various publications regarding Canadian welfare system as it relates to Mennonites and Doukhobors. -- 1900,1950.
    25. Doukhobor Lands Allotment Inquiry Act, British Columbia (BC) documents. -- 1955-1965.
    26. excerpts of court proceedings as related to Hutterites and other documents relating to the Hutterites land owning practices. Also included "Cultural Transmission in A Closed Society: The Hutterites"/ William D. Knill, University of Alberta, 1967; "The Hutterite Brethren of North America", 1968; and "The Migration of Hutterites to South Russia: A manuscript originally prepared by Heinrich Donner, 1783. -- 1966-1979.
    27. Excerpts from "In Search of Brotherhood"/ Koozma Tarasoff. -- [197-?].
    28. Correspondence and excerpts of articles regarding Doukhobors and resistance to public education. -- 1908-1947, 1976.
    29. Report of the Royal Commission on the Matters relating to the sect of Doukhobors in BC/ BC Legislature. -- 1913.
    30. Reports, excerpts from published sources and newspaper clippings regarding Hutterites in Saskatchewan around the issue of land ownership and education. -- 1958-1979. Note: includes: Saskatchewan Laws Regarding Hutterites/ Steve Kroeger, 1975; Treatment of Hutterian Brethren by provincial and Federal Governments - A Summary/ Ray H. Woollam, prepared for E.I. Wood, department of Municipal Affairs, Regina, SK, 1963; Legislative Assembly if Saskatchewan Final Repost of the Special Committee on the ownership of Agricultural Lands, 1973; Provincial Court, Province of Saskatchewan between Henry Godenir and Vanguard Hutterian Brethren Inc., 1979.
    31. Old Colony Mennonite Settlements in Saskatchewan: A study in Settlement Change/ Richard John Friesen [Richard Friesen], University of Alberta, 1975.
    32. Excerpts of reports, court documents, correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Hutterite communities. -- 1979-1989.
    33. Traditional Doukhobor Folkways: An Ethnographic and Biographic Records of Prescribed Behavior/ Koozma Tarasoff. National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian Center for Folk Culture Studies, paper 20. -- 1977, 396 pages.
    34. Copy of agreement to help facilitate the sale of Old Colony member's land in Saskatchewan and purchase of land in Mexico. -- 1921. Included is an explanatory note by William Janzen.
    35. Copy of letter to C.B. Dirks, Mexico from Johan P. Wall dealing with excommunication and the ban as it pertained to Isaac Guenther. -- 1933. -- Note: includes explanatory note by William Janzen.
    VOLUME 5110
    1. Assortment of papers regarding World War Two [WWII] and conscientious objectors. -- 1944-1988.
    2. Canadian Mennonites and World War I (WWI)/ George H. Reimer. -- 1972.
    3. Excerpt from source regarding Brethren in Christ experience in WWI/ E. Morris Sider. -- [196-?].
    4. Excerpt from A Historical Study of Education in the Municipality of Rhineland/ John Jacob Bergen [John Bergen], University of Manitoba, 1959.
    5. The Canadian Mennonite Experience of World War I (WWI)/ Joe Mihevc, Toronto School of Theology, 1986.
    6. The Mennonites in Manitoba 1875-1900: A Review of their coming, their progress and their present prosperity/ J.F. Galbraith. -- 1900.
    7. An Examination of the Mennonite and Hutterite Immigration crisis 1918-1919, in the provinces of Western Canada. -- 1974.
    8. Excerpts of reports, articles, and newspaper clippings regarding Doukhobors. -- 1930, 1984- 1989.
    9. Correspondence with Ontario Mennonites regarding World War I [WWI]. -- 1917-1919.
    10. Correspondence with Ontario Mennonites regarding World War I [WWI]. -- 1917-1919.
    11. Correspondence with Ontario Mennonites regarding World War I [WWI]. -- 1917-1919.
    12. Excerpt from Hutterite Education: A Descriptive Study on the Hutterian Colonies within Warner County No. 5, Alberta, Carrado/ William D. Knill [William Knill]. -- 1958.
    13. Correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Hutterite education. -- 1948, 1967-1971.
    14. Government reports regarding Hutterites in Alberta and the ownership of land including one by P.G. Davis. -- 1972.
    15. Various articles re: ethnic minorities in World War I [WWI]. -- 1921, 1970-1975, 1982-1984.
    16. Excerpt of The Hutterian Brethren in Alberta/ Erdman L. Pitt [Erdman Pitt]. -- 1949.
    17. Correspondence and reports from Canadian government regarding Canada Pension Plan. -- 1971-1978.
    18. Correspondence, reports, and newspaper clippings regarding Old Older Mennonites in Canada and their wish to remain exempt from the Canada Pension Plan. -- 1966-1971.
    19. Correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding negotiations with the Canadian government regarding conscientious objector status and alternative service. A large part includes the Ontario inter Mennonite meetings (Amish, Old Order, Quakers, Tunkers etc.). - - 1940.
    20. Correspondence between Mennonite leaders and the Canadian government regarding conscientious objection (WWII) issues as the alternative service duties begin. -- 1941. Note: most of the correspondence is from the Western Mennonites.
    21. Newspaper clippings regarding World War Two (WWII) and conscientious objectors, Mennonite communities, alternative service camps, etc. -- 1939-1943.
    22. Ontario Mennonite correspondence with the government regarding conscientious objectors. Includes material from the Military problems committee. -- 1941-1944.
    23. Correspondence between Mennonite leaders Benjamin Janz (BB Janz) CF Klassen (Cornelius F. Klassen) and David Toews and the Canadian government (including significant correspondence with judges Embury in Saskatchewan and Harvey in Alberta) regarding conscientious objectors and alternative service. -- 1942-1945, 1950.
    24. Footnotes. This file includes requests for photocopies of documents from the Public Archives of Canada, a listing of government records that have been microfilmed for "Mennonites in Canada", and a list of COs (conscientious objectors at Prince Albert National Park. -- 1941, 1980.
    25. Correspondence from the Historic peace Churches and the Committee on Military Problems. -- 1942-1945, 1948.
    26. Correspondence and reports from the Conference of Historic Peace Churches Canada and the Military Problems Committee. Includes report of visit of JB Martin and EJ Swalm to Chalk River Camp and Government offices at Ottawa, and report on the Handling of Conscientious Objectors in Canada/ Paul C. French. -- 1942-1944.
    27. Correspondence and minutes of the Zentralkomitees fuer Westcanada in der Dienstfrage. -- 1940-1943. This seems to be files copied from MHC (CMC) Vol. 1320 file 940.
    28. Reports and correspondence from Mennonite leaders such as HH Ewert (Heinrich H Ewert) regarding World War I (WWI). -- 1918-1919.
    29. Reports regarding Doukhobors in Alberta and issue of registering births and deaths with Canadian vital statistics. -- 1928-1929.
    30. Miscellaneous thesis material. Includes government speeches, correspondence, newspaper clippings relating to Mennonites, Hutterites, education and conscientious objection. -- 1873, 1877, 1918, 1949, 1978.
    VOLUME 5111
    1. Correspondence and reports from the Canadian government and from church leaders regarding the administration of alternative service in World War II (WWII). -- 1940-1945. -- Note: Various topics are evident including: leave from CO camps, administration of the CO camps, medical corps (1943) option, COs working for duration of the war (1942) etc. The file deals largely with administration issues rather than individual COs. Note on the folder states: Some references to the arrangements for work camps in BC, Kootenay National park and forestry camps. Little if any specific references to Mennonites in that context . Materials on CO claims in BC relates almost exclusively to Doukhobors.
    2. Government correspondence regarding Hutterites and conscientious objection in World War II (WWII). -- 1942-1945.
    3. Canadian laws and regulations regarding World War II (WWII) and conscientious objectors. - - 1927, 1940-1943.
    4. Correspondence and reports from Canadian government and Mennonite church leaders regarding Mennonites in World War II (WWII) and conscientious objection. -- 1942-1943
    5. Government correspondence regarding conscientious objectors, mainly in World War II (WWII). From Defense headquarters. -- 1918, 1940-1945.
    6. Correspondence from government and Mennonite leaders regarding military exemption being extended to Mennonites immigrating to Canada in the 1920s. -- 1918-1927.
    7. Correspondence from government, Mennonite leaders, and lawyers regarding military exemption and who qualifies. Also some materials regarding Hutterites. -- 1927-1939.
    8. Correspondence, registration forms, and newspaper clippings regarding the registration of Mennonites in an attempt to be exempt from military service. -- 1940.
    9. Government correspondence (Department of National War Services) regarding general provisions for conscientious objectors and how alternative service will be carried out. Includes Mennonites and Doukhobors. -- 1941.
    10. Correspondence, legal documents, and police reports regarding Mennonites exemption from limitary service and concerns over the use of German. -- 1918. -- Note: contains one letter re: Tunkers.
    11. Correspondence from Western Canadian Mennonite leaders and individuals regarding Mennonite exemption from military service and some problems some individuals encountered in World War I (WWI). -- 19171-1918.
    12. Correspondence from the Canadian government and Mennonite leaders regarding Mennonites and alternative service in World War II (WWII). -- 1940-1944. -- Note: on the file states "BJ file 4".
    13. Government reports regarding amnesty for those who are in violation of the military service act. - 1919, 1946. -- Note: on file states: "Military Service general".
    14. Government and Mennonite documents about general military exemption. -- 1917, 1949.
    15. Correspondence regarding military exemption for Hutterites. -- 1899, 1927.
    16. House of commons debate transcripts regarding Hutterites and the payment of taxes and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). -- 1967, 1973.
    17. House of Commons debate transcripts regarding Canada Pension Plan. -- 1974.
    18. Government and legal correspondence regarding taxation of Hutterites and contributions to Canada Pension Plan (CPP). -- 1960-1978. -- Note; in folder "Buttons and novelties".
    19. Government correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Amish Mennonites wanting exemption from Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments. -- 1960-1969.
    20. Transcripts from parliamentary committee regarding the Canada Pension Plan, Bill C-190. -- 1973, 1974, 1979.
    21. Correspondence from government and Mennonite leaders, including Jacob Y. Schantz, regarding the choosing, purchasing, settling, and selling of land set aside for Mennonites in Manitoba and Alberta. -- 1873-1895, 1923-1927. -- Note: includes Narrative of a Journey to Manitoba/ J.Y. Schantz: Together with an abstract of the Dominions Lands Act, 1873.
    22. Government of Canada court documents regarding trials between the Government and Hutterites dealing with taxes. -- 1975-1978. -- Note on folder "Hutterite materials not used".
    23. Government and legal reports and correspondence regarding the taxation of Hutterite communities. -- 1969-1971.
    24. Correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding Hutterites and exemption from paying taxes and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). -- 1969-1978.
    25. Correspondence regarding Hutterites and exemption from paying taxes and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). -- 1958-1969.
    26. Government of Canada court documents regarding Hutterites and taxation cases. -- 1971- 1978.
    27. Newspaper clippings from Der Bote and Ottawa Citizen regarding World War II (WWII). -- 1939.
    28. Government correspondence and reports regarding allowance and disallowance of Mennonites, Hutterites and Doukhobors entrance into Canada. -- 1872-1899, 1918-1931.
    29. Excerpts from The inquirer (The Doukhobor Inquirer) regarding various Doukhobor issues. - - 1898, 1954-1956, 1974.
    30. Bibliographies for sources on Doukhobors and Hutterites. -- [ca. 1970-1973]. -- Note: includes: A Doukhobor Bibliography Part III: The Doukhobor file, reference guide 43/ University of British Columbia Library , 1973.
    31. Excerpts from various publications regarding Hutterites in Alberta. -- 1947-1949, 1960- 1961, 1971-1976. -- Note: includes: Submission to the Agricultural Committee of the Legislature of the Province of Alberta on Behalf of Alberta's 51 Hutterite Colonies of the Darius-Leut and Lehrer-Leut groups, 1960. and Report on Communal Property, Alberta Legislative Assembly, Select Committee of the Assembly on Communal Property, 1972.
    32. Government reports regarding Hutterites in Manitoba. -- 1948, 1957.
    33. Excerpts from various published and unpublished sources regarding Doukhobors. -- 1898, 1956-1957, 1961, 1975-1981. Note: includes: A Legal History of the Christian Community of Universal Brethren [Doukhobors] 1899-1942: Some legal problems of the Doukhobors in Canada/ Brian Juriloff, 1978; and Doukhobors and Mennonites: A comparative Study of Ideological Persistence in Response to the Institution of Militarism/ Koozma Tarasoff, 1975.
    34. Government correspondence and reports dealing with the entrance or Immigration of Hutterite top Canada and the halting of Hutterite colony expansion (land issue). -- 1899, 1921, 1931-1943.
    35. Reports regarding Doukhobors in Saskatchewan. -- 1898, 1906-1907. -- Note: includes: Papers Relating to Doukhobor Homestead Entries/John McDougall, 1906; and Reports and Maps Relating to Lands Held under Homestead Entry by Doukhobors and the Disposition of Same.
    36. MCC News Service articles regardng Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico  by William Janzen. -- 1977.