Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Peace Research at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario: 1946-

Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Rd N
Waterloo, ON  N2L 3G6

519-885-0220 x24238

Laureen Harder-Gissing MA MISt

8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday
Making an appointment is recommended

Archives is on the third floor of Conrad Grebel University College, within the Milton Good Library.

The Mennonite Archives of Ontario collects and preserves archival materials that reflect the Mennonite experience in Ontario and makes them available to anyone with a legitimate research interest.

Materials in many formats documenting predominantly local and provincial activities. Some materials also have national and international significance.

More information

From the Archives

Witness for Peace brochure

Brochure inviting participation in a Witness for Peace tour, 1985. C. Arnold Snyder fonds, HM 1.264.3/1983,1985. Click image to enlarge.

Copyright Information

All information on this guide is ©2013 by the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Permission is granted to include URL references to this information for noncommercial purposes, provided that proper attribution is given.

Photographs on this website cannot be reproduced without permission.

Citation example (Chicago style):

Harder-Gissing, Laureen. 'Introduction." Peace Research at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Mennonite Archives of Ontario. Accessed 17 Oct 2013.

Historical Orientation: 1946-present

Draft Dodgers in Ottawa

The post-war environment brought new peace concerns and opportunities for Mennonites in Ontario. A new wave of Russian Mennonite immigrants, displaced from the Soviet Union during the Second World War, settled in Ontario. CHPC conferences addressed issues such as nonresistance and mission work, peace education, and the relationship of Mennonites to government in the Cold War era. In response to the Civil Defence program instituted by the federal government, Ontario Mennonites organized a chapter of the Mennonite Disaster Service in 1957, rather than participate in the government program.

In 1958, the CHPC joined representatives from other peace churches across Canada to form the Historic Peace Church Council of Canada (HPCCC). This group supported Mennonite Disaster Service and coordinated Mennonite representations to the Canadian government. The HPCCC also hosted talks to bring the peace, relief and service agencies of Mennonites and related groups under one body; this was accomplished in 1963 with the formation of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada). In Ontario, the CHPC, NRRO, WMSA Cutting Room and MCC Kitchener office then took on the complex task of merging their organizations into one provincial organization, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO).

Meanwhile, MCC headquarters in Pennsylvania expanded overseas activities as opportunities arose. Ontario volunteers were sent oversees through MCC, though the Kitchener office was involved in processing. By 1952, 28 Ontario Mennonites had served as foreign relief workers; by 1970, 281 Ontarians had served. As MCCO grew, it developed programming to address issues of peace and justice in Ontario, such as aboriginal issues, refugee sponsorship, environmental care, and restorative justice.

In the post-war era, several Mennonite conferences in Ontario formed standing committees on peace issues. When three of the largest Ontario conferences (Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, the United Mennonite Churches of Ontario and the Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec) merged to form Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) in 1988, they created a Peace, Justice and Social Concerns Committee.

The early 1960s was a time of vigorous institution-building and church planting by Ontario Mennonites. Conrad Grebel College (now Conrad Grebel University College), a Mennonite college affiliated with the University of Waterloo, was chartered in 1961. In the 1970s, the College began to develop a Peace and Conflict Studies program, the first peace studies program at a Canadian university.

Outside of, though often connected to MCC Ontario or conference structures, various Ontario Mennonites formed working groups to address issues of concern. These included providing support for Vietnam War draft dodgers, assisting refugee claimants in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and raising awareness of violent conflicts in Central America. Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church created a Peace and Justice Centre in 1987; it was the first peace centre to be housed in a Mennonite congregation in Canada. Bibliography

Photograph: Bob Neufeld of Ottawa Mennonite Church counsels draft dodgers Laurenda Margaret Scott and Jon B. Messer in Neufeld's office, 1969. Credit:  Mennonite Archives of Ontario (2000-1.162)


Many institutional and organizational fonds listed in this section are incomplete, as they have yet to be transferred to the Archives. Click on linked titles to view archival finding aids.

Personal Collections

Wesley Brubacher fonds
Brubacher volunteered with MCC doing post-war reconstruction in Europe, 1946-1948.

Peter J. Dyck fonds
Dyck and his wife Elfrieda served with MCC in England, the Netherlands and Germany during and after the Second World War. This collection is made up predominantly of materials associated with his University of Waterloo honorary doctorate, presented in 1974.

Frank H. Epp fonds
Covering the years 1963-1986, the Epp fonds is the largest personal collection in the Archives. A newspaper editor (The Canadian Mennonite) and academic, Epp researched and wrote on many peace-related topics, such as Mennonite history, the Vietnam War, draft dodgers, the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament.

John L. Fretz fonds
Fretz served in Alternative Service camps. After the war, he served in France as a relief worker with MCC.

Walter Klaassen fonds
A chaplain and faculty member at Conrad Grebel College, Klaassen was involved in the Kitchener-Waterloo Anti-Draft Program, 1968-1970.

Albert J. Meyer collection
Albert J. Meyer was secretary for the first Puidoux Conferences on war and peace in Christian theology in 1955 and 1957.

David Rensberger fonds
Rensberger was a Mennonite draft resister during the Vietnam War who wrote a letter for wider circulation from prison, 1972.

J. Harold Sherk fonds
Sherk was a Mennonite Brethren in Christ minister from Ontario. From 1958-1969 he was the director of the National Service Bureau for Religious Objectors in Washington, D.C.

Donovan E. Smucker
Includes materials from Smucker's "Politics of Nonviolence" course taught through Conrad Grebel College in 1984.

Alice Snyder fonds
Duing and after the Second World War, Snyder managed the Cutting Room, which supplied cloth for relief sewing to congregations. A lifelong MCC worker, she spent two terms overseas, in Germany (1948-1950) and Jordan (1958-1960).

C. Arnold Snyder fonds
Snyder was the first coordinator for Witness For Peace in Nicaragua (1984-1985). The fonds also documents his active interest in conflicts in Central America during the 1980s.

Samuel J. Steiner fonds
The fonds contains correspondence and other documents related to Steiner's experience as a draft resister.

Ernest J. Swalm fonds
Swalm was a Brethren in Christ bishop and chairman of the CHPC for 25 years. He kept a file of notes, clippings and correspondence on peace.

Twentieth Century Russian Mennonite Memoirs of War and Immigration
The following fonds, located in Personal Collections, contain personal accounts, correspondence, photographs and other primary sources created by Russian Mennonites describing life before, during and after the Russian Revolution and civil war,  immigration to Canada in the 1920s,  life in the Soviet Union in the inter-war period,  experiences of the Second World War in the Soviet Union and Germany, and post-war immigration to Canada and South America from the 1940s to 1960s:  Abram Barg, Lucy Braun, Jacob P. Dick, Mary G. and Anna Dick, Jacob Johanan Dyck, Katharina Duerksen, Katharine Dyck, Abram Flaming, Johann J. Friesen, Tina Matthies, Katharina (Klassen) Penner, Abraham P. and Margarethe (Kroeger) Regier, Jacob J. Rempel, Margarethe (Willlms) Rempel, Agatha (Loewen Duerksen) Schmidt, Erna (Wiens) Stern, Franz and Anna (Toews) Tiessen, Elizabeth Wiebe Unger, Heinrich Unrau, Gerhard Wiebe, Jakob Wiebe.

Organizations and Institutions

Association of Conscientious Objectors fonds
An organization formed to facilitate reunions of those who had served in Alternative Service during the Second World War , and promote awareness of their history.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (Canada)
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) grew out of a call in the 1980s to Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches to establish a non-violent, volunteer peacekeeping force. Its primary work in Canada has been with Indigenous communities.

Conrad Grebel University College fonds - Peace and Conflict Studies Program (PACS)
Contains the records of PACS, the first peace studies program at a Canadian university.

Conference of Historic Peace Churches fonds
Also includes the records of the Non-Resistant Relief Organization and the CHPC Military Problems Committee.

Conscience Canada
Conscience Canada traces its history back to 1978, and was incorporated in 1983. It was founded to advocate for the right of conscientious objection to military taxation in Canada.

Historic Peace Church Council of Canada fonds
The HPCCC operated from 1953-1963 as a national coordinating body of peace churches.

Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Although the Archives is not an official depository for Mennonite Central Committee, it does accrue the records of this organization, primarily through transfers from other fonds and collections. No file list is currently available; contact the Archives for more information.

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario fonds
These extensive records include MCCO's efforts in the area of peace, including but not limited to peace education, peace advocacy, restorative justice, draft resisters, war taxes, refugee issues, Indigenous peoples, and civil defence. The Mennonite Disaster Service records are also located here. The Mennonite Archives of Ontario is the official repository for MCCO.

Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support fonds
A cooperative effort of several Mennonite congregations in the Kitchener-Waterloo area to support refugee claimants.

Seniors for Peace fonds
This group's purpose was to deepen peace awareness among seniors and increase peace witness through various methods.

Sponsorship of Refugees from Southeast Asia
Mennonites in Canada were active in the private sponsorship of refugees from southeast Asia from 1978 to the early 1980s under the coordination of Mennonite Central Committee Canada. Archival files on this topic include MCC Ontario's Relief and Immigration Section records and Southeast Asian Refugee Oral History Project. Additional files created by congregations and individuals can be found by searching the Archives' holdings using the terms Hmong, Lao, Laos, Laotian or Vietnamese. Mennonite newspapers of record, the Mennonite Reporter, Mennonite Brethren Herald, and Canadian Mennonite, also document these events. Copies of these newspapers and their indexes are located in the Milton Good Library. The Archives houses high-level records of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, such as press releases, annual reports, and executive minutes. Additional files are located in the MCC Canada archives at the Mennonite Heritage Archives in Winnipeg.

Women's Mission and Service Auxilary fonds -Cutting Room
Beginning in the Second World War, the WMSA cutting room purchased and cut fabric for congregational women's groups to sew relief clothing.

Conference Collections

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada fonds
Peace, Justice and Social Concerns Committee, 1988-2006.

Peace Problems Committee of the Mennonite Church fonds
A Canadian section of this committee was formed in 1925. S. F. Coffman and Jesse B. Martin were prominent members.

Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec fonds
This conference had a standing committee on Peace, Social and Economic Relations, 1960-1968. The Mennonite Mission Board of Ontario's mission consultants kept files of peace activities in the 1980s.

United Mennonite Churches of Ontario fonds
Peace and Service Committee, 1959-1967.

Congregational Collections

Breslau Mennonite Church fonds
Contains correspondence with the congregation's Militarism Committee about church membership and participation in the military, 1990-1991.

Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church fonds
The congregation created a Peace and Justice Centre in 1987. This was the first peace centre housed in a Mennonite congregation in Canada.

Audiovisual Presentations

Mennonite Central Committee slide sets
Includes slide sets for public presentations on MCC work in conflict zones, 1960-1976.

Microfilm Collections

[Peace and social concerns statements by the Mennonites and Brethren in Christ in Canada, 1787-1982] microfilm collection
A print guide, entited Where we stand : an index of peace and social concerns statements by the Mennonites and Brethren in Christ in Canada, 1787-1982, is located in the Milton Good Library: CGCref Z7845.M4F75 1986. The microfilm collection is also located in the library, with the call number G MIC A292.

Government Records in the Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Mennonites in Canada vertical files - Public Archives of Canada
Photocopies of correspondence and other documents relating to Mennonites from the records of the Government of Canada, obtained from the Public Archives of Canada. Includes a summary of House of Commons debates where Mennonites were discussed, 1917-1959.