The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC) gathers for its Board Meeting and Annual General Meeting (AGM) every year during the third weekend of January. This gathering also provides opportunity for a number of committees to meet, minimizing additional travel costs. This year’s meetings were held at Conrad Grebel University College, on the campus of the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.
Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is a member organization of MHSC, which gives us a seat on the Society’s Board of Directors. This is the first year we have held this formal role.
Through its committees and member organizations, the MHSC is involved in a variety of projects. The Divergent Voices of Canadian Mennonites (DVCM) organizes conferences on topics such as War and the Conscientious Objector and Mennonites and Money: Wealth and Poverty in the Past and Present. These conferences take place every other year under the leadership of Dr. Royden Loewen and are held at the University of Winnipeg. Some of the papers presented are normally included in the Journal of Mennonite Studies. These projects are made possible through a grant from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) is another project of MHSC. As the name suggests, it is an online encyclopedia of Anabaptist and Mennonite material. As Mennonites are located in many countries around the world, with differing cultural and faith practices, this is a very large project. The GAMEO website is available at www.gameo.org.
The Archivists Committee of MHSC has been working to create an electronic database of Mennonite photos. This database will store photos in such a way that researchers can access and use them in their research projects. A training session for navigating the database was held in conjunction with the recent MHSC meetings. The database will become available for general use in February 2015 and has tentatively been named Mennonite Archival Internet Database (MAID).
Each of the western provinces, as well as Ontario and Quebec, has a provincial Mennonite Heritage Society. Representatives from each of these organizations reported on their activities at the AGM. Reports were also given by represented organizations, including Brethren in Christ Archives, Mennonite Archives of Ontario & Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Chair of Mennonite Studies at University of Winnipeg, Mennonite Heritage Village, Mennonite Heritage Centre of Mennonite Church Canada, Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies/MB Historical Commission, and the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies.
One of the highlights of the AGM was the presentation of the Award of Excellence to Sam Steiner. Sam managed the Archives of Ontario from 1974 to 2008. He has also written two books: Vicarious Pioneer: The Life of Jacob Y. Shantz (1988) and Lead Us On: A History of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, 1945-1995 (1995). He is currently putting the finishing touches on In Search of Promised Lands: A Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario. Previous award recipients include Delbert Plett, Ted Friesen, Gerhard Ens, David K. Schellenberg, Bill Schroeder and Harry Loewen.
We believe that membership in the Society provides us with valuable exposure to the Canadian Mennonite community.