Category Archives: History

1619

My son recommended the podcast 1619 to me. It was an excellent place to start my quest to learn more about systemic racism.  The series aired in August of last year and won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize, the first podcast to ever be given the coveted award.

1619 is narrated by Nikole Hannah-Jones and I loved the way she interspersed incidents and people from her own life with the information she presented in each episode.  One of the stories she told was about a favourite uncle who dressed in red from head to toe for Nikole’s university graduation.  He was SO proud of her. He died of cancer at age 50 because of systemic racism in the American health care system. 

The podcast’s name comes from the fact that the first slaves were brought to America in 1619.  In an article in the Michigan Daily  Nikole talks about how every American schoolchild knows the name of The Mayflower the ship that brought the first Pilgrim settlers to North America in 1620 but few know the name of The White Lion which was the ship that brought slaves there a year before. 

Although you learn lots of history from listening to 1619 the thing I liked most about the podcast was the fascinating people I got to know. 

Angie and June Provost

People like June and Angie Provost, sugar cane farmers from Louisianna who lost their family farm because of systemic racism against Black farmers in the banking industry. They are fighting back and taking their case to the public so other farmers won’t have to experience what they did. 

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

People like Rebecca Lee Crumpler the first Black woman to graduate from medical college and become a physician in the United States. She had a practice for poor women and children in Boston but after the Civil War, she moved to the south to provide medical care to freed slaves. She was subjected to intense racism and sexism but remained dedicated to her profession. 

I can highly recommend 1619 as an engaging and eye-opening experience on the road to learning more about systemic racism.  You can listen to the episodes here.

Other posts………. 

Are You A Performance Ally?

Racism -Pure and Simple

A Possible Alternative to Tearing Down Statues

 

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Filed under History, Media

Don’t Piss God Off, Red Rocks and Letters to America

Yesterday when I was walking through Steve Juba Park near my home I thought about something Shug says in the novel The Color Purple.  Shug believes God wants us to admire all the beautiful stuff in creation. It’s a sin she claims not to look for beauty and not to appreciate it.

Shug says, “it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple somewhere….and you don’t even notice it.”   Well, I don’t think God could have been too upset with me yesterday in Steve Juba Park because I was being wowed by plenty of purple beauty.  Here are three of the photos I took. irises

little purple flowers

lilacs

I picked up a jigsaw puzzle last Wednesday when I was volunteering at the MCC Thrift Store. jigsaw red rocks crossingIt was a picture of Red Rocks Crossing in Sedona Arizona. I finished it yesterday and so today when I go to the store to volunteer I can return it and pick up a new puzzle. I chose the Sedona puzzle because I have been to Red Rocks crossing in Sedona and know just how beautiful it is in real life. Here are a couple of photos I took when I was there. red rocks crossing Sedona

sedona red rocks crossing

Macleans is running a series called Letters to America.  Submitted by prominent black Canadians each unique and beautifully written letter makes you think about why Black Lives Matter.  

Esi Edugyan the author of the bestseller Washington Black reminds us of what an important role the abolitionist movement in Great Britain had on ending slavery in the United States.  People an ocean away cared about Black people in America.

Rinaldo Walcott a University of Toronto professor says that in Ontario a Black person is 20 times more likely to die in an encounter with police officers than a white person. Canadians are too willing to abdicate responsibility for safety in our communities to the police. Better housing, health care and transportation are things that will truly make a difference. 

Andray Domise a Macleans contributing editor and historian tells us Canadians like to pat themselves on the back because they were the final stop on the Underground Railroad but we need to remember that in the 1950s and 1960s when Black Americans were trying to leave the United States and its segregationist Jim Crow laws they were turned away at the border by Canadian authorities or deported back to America if they somehow made it across the 49th parallel. 

Lawrence Hill the author of the widely acclaimed Book of Negroes lays a lot of the blame for racism in America on Donald Trump and his devotees.  Speaking through the voice of his father Hill says Trump and his enablers must be voted out of every political office in the United States. Trump has no respect for Black folks, Muslims, refugees or women. He wants to turn America into a dictatorship and he and his supporters have perverted everything good people should hold sacred. 

There are other great letters in the series. Read them for an interesting and varied Canadian perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Other posts………….

The Color Purple- God in Every Living Thing

A Strange Book But One Worth Reading

Inspiration on a Walk in Sedona

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Filed under Arizona, History, Nature, Politics

The Fist – Determined or Aggressive

The Fist by Robert Graham- photo from Wikipedia

On one of our many visits to Detroit, we did a guided public art tour where we looked at some of the sculptures and murals on display throughout the city. One artwork I haven’t forgotten is The Fist created by artist Robert Graham in 1986.  The sculpture is a tribute to boxer Joe Louis the first African American athlete to become a national hero. He shattered the myth of Nazi supremacy by beating German fighter Max Schmeling in 1938.  Louis’ accomplishments as a black athlete are said to have paved the way for the civil rights movement of the 60s and for the success of future black athletes like baseball player Jackie Robinson.  

the fist robert graham wikimedia photo by Walter Powers

Photo by Walter Powers from Wikimedia

There has been lots of controversy about The Fist. Some object to the fact the fist in the sculpture is clenched making it seem less a symbol of determination and strength and more a symbol of aggression.  Critics say the sculpture looks like a representation of black militant power and that’s not at all what Joe Louis was about. He changed attitudes by excelling in his field, not through violent confrontation.  Yet his field of sport was a kind of violent confrontation. Certainly, the sculpture seemed threatening to some vandals who in 2004 covered it in white paint and left a message about white people ready for a fight with African Americans. 

I have been thinking about The Fist in the last few days. The way different people interpreted the artwork represent two different kinds of thinking about how meaningful societal change can take place when it comes to racism- through violent action or excelling in your field so that you become a positive, inspiring and influential role model for change.  

The African American community has produced plenty of inspiring role models including a former president, hundreds of celebrated athletes, entertainment icons,  authors, scientists, educators- people who have excelled in their fields, in literally every area of human endeavour. But still, racism exists in the United States some eighty years after Joe Louis became a national hero and…….. it is racism still so potent the country’s current president is confident he can leverage it to hold onto his political power.  Perhaps that helps to explain why some of the protests in America have turned violent in the last few days. 

Several articles about The Fist mention that it is pointing in the direction of Canada just a few miles away from Detroit?  What might that imply? 

black lives matter winnipegThere will be an event on Friday at the Manitoba Legislature in support of the protestors in the United States. Note the fists on the logo for their event. 

Other posts………….

Inspiration from Maya Angelou

It’s Harder to Hate Up Close

Encouragement After the American Election

 

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Filed under Art, History, Politics, Sports

Black Days in May

The beautiful Minneapolis Art Institute. Photographed during a visit in 2014.

As I’ve been observing the violence and anger erupting in Minneapolis I’m remembering all the good times we have had in that city.

At a Vikings football game in Minneapolis

We have seen plays at the Guthrie Theatre, cheered at professional basketball, baseball and football games, visited the city’s fabulous free art gallery and enjoyed meals at amazing restaurants. We had so much fun with our boys when they were little at the Mall of America’s entertaining Lego Land.

With friends at a wedding in Minneapolis

We attended the wedding of friends in Minneapolis a few years ago which was held in a lovely little historic church and had such a special weekend.  

Minneapolis is a marvellous place but the New York Times this morning reminds everyone that while Minneapolis does have a rich cultural scene and one of America’s highest standards of living, decades of government decisions have discriminated against black citizens. Loan programs for buying homes have favoured white Minnesotans. In order to facilitate new infrastructure black neighbourhoods have been razed. The police force is predominantly white. According to another article in the New York Times, disparities in employment, poverty and education between people of colour and white residents in Minneapolis are among the worst in the country. I worked for the Mennonite Church as a volunteer in a Minneapolis inner-city playground program one summer more than fifty years ago and know first hand those injustices are long-standing. 

Police and Rioters, 12th Street, Detroit, July 23, 1967
Photo from  Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

The last few days I keep thinking about something my husband told me about the race riots in Detroit in 1967 during which some forty people died, thousands were injured and thousands of building were burned.  

Dave’s Mom picking tomatoes in their fields the 1960s

Dave’s family had a vegetable farm just across the border from Detroit in southern Ontario and when they were working in their fields they could see the smoke from the burning buildings in Detroit billowing in the sky.  It reminded them of just how close they were to a place filled with anger over racial injustice and inequality. 

Reincarceration by Kent Monkman- The building in the background is Manitoba’s Headingly Penitentiary

I think we would do well to let the ‘smoke’ we are seeing on our television and computer screens and in our newspapers remind us of how ‘close’ we are here in Manitoba to the same kind of injustice and inequality that is fueling the current violence just across our border in the United States.  Injustices like……

Manitoba indigenous men represent 15% of our general population and 75% of our prison population. Source

90% of the children in foster care in Manitoba are indigenous.  Source

Indigenous children living in Manitoba are the most impoverished in Canada  Source

There are Manitoba First Nation reserves with no indoor plumbing and no clean water supply. Source

Gordon Lightfoot wrote a famous song about the riots in Detroit in 1967 called Black Day in July. Sadly lines from the song still resonate more than fifty years later. 

And the people rise in anger
And the streets begin to fill
And there’s gunfire from the rooftops
And the blood begins to spill
And you say how did it happen
And you say how did it start
Why can’t we all be brothers
Why can’t we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots
Keep falling out of reach

Other posts…….

Minneapolis Wedding

 

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Filed under History, manitoba, Politics

A Shortage of Something Sad, A Spot of Manitoba History and Saying Hello

It was such a beautiful day yesterday so Dave and I decided to drive out to the Lockport area and go for a walk along River Road. We parked in a lot near Captain Kennedy House. I had visited the historic home with my mother on several occasions in the past to have lunch in the Maple Grove Tea Room it housed. Mom liked looking at the beautiful flower gardens on the grounds. I was sad to read that the current provincial government shelved plans to do important restoration work on the building after they were elected in 2016. The place has been shuttered ever since. I read the historical plaques outside and discovered that originally the home of Alexander Kennedy and Aggathas Bear stood on the site. Their Metis son William built the current home right next to his parents’ house. He lived there with his wife Eleanor and their children. Captain William Kennedy worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company and was an explorer who went in search of Sir John Franklin after his Arctic expedition disappeared. Another plaque at the site told the story of William’s mother Aggathas Bear a Cree woman from the Saskatchewan River area who married Alexander Kennedy after he immigrated to Canada from the Orkney Islands. She raised nine children. We walked for an hour and after all that exercise we treated ourselves to hotdogs, sweet potato fries and milkshakes at the popular Skinners restaurant in Lockport. Their take out window was hopping!  We found some picnic tables near the river and chose one an appropriate distance from any other tables where we enjoyed our lunch in the fresh air. 

One thing I noticed on our walk yesterday was how every single person we passed said a cheery hello to us from across the road. Whenever we saw someone coming we were sure to maintain our distance but that didn’t stop folks from calling out hello or remarking on what a lovely morning it was.

The Washington Post is running an ongoing series where people can contribute opinion pieces on how to make things better during the time of COVID-19. Yesterday Kimberlyn Maravet Baig-Ward, a psychiatric physician from Texas wrote about how a simple hello can fight the pandemic of silence accompanying the current crisis. She fears social distancing means we aren’t speaking to each other enough. She reminds us of the importance of maintaining human connections and says even if you are six feet away from someone and wearing a mask you can still say hello. It’s a simple thing that can make a world of difference.

My mom was diligent about smiling and saying hello

For years my mother and I used to take early morning walks down the streets of Steinbach. My mother said a cheery good morning to every single person we passed whether she knew them or not. It’s a lesson from her I need to practice all the time, but especially right now.   I read yesterday that sympathy cards are selling out in New York City. An article in the New York Times quotes one cardmaker who says, “almost everyone knows someone who has died.”  Etsy, a website that sells craft items, including handmade cards, says sales for sympathy cards are double what they were at this time last year. Apparently, with people unable to make visits to the family members of the deceased or attend their funerals  to express their condolences in person, sympathy cards have become a concrete way to show support and encouragement.  

With Mom a year and a half before she died

I still have all the sympathy cards we received after my mother passed away in 2013 and I have reread them numerous times. Their kind words about my mother help me remember how important she was to many people and continue to comfort me even seven years after her death.

I’ve written in previous blog posts about jigsaw puzzles and toilet paper selling out during the current time of social and physical isolation. The increase in sympathy card sales is a more sombre reminder of how deeply and sadly COVID-19 is affecting many families. 

Other posts………..

Saying Hello to People

What A Difference A Smile and A Hello Can Make

Saying Hello

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, History

Louis Riel In My Neighbourhood

 

For my readers who aren’t from Manitoba today is a special holiday in our province. Begun in 2008 it honours Louis Riel who was the leader of the Metis people on the Canadian prairies in the 1870s and 1880s. Louis Riel is considered the founder of the province of Manitoba and he was elected several times to Canada’s Parliament. He was also quite a controversial figure and led two resistances against the Canadian government and its first prime minister Sir John A Macdonald.  Louis Riel wanted to preserve and protect Metis land rights and culture from undue influence and direction from the federal government of Canada.   

I live in an area of Winnipeg where I am surrounded by reminders of Louis Riel.

Louis Riel statue at the St. Boniface Museum

Just a few blocks from my home is the St. Boniface Museum. There is a statue of Louis Riel on the front lawn.

Louis Riel’s coffin at the St. Boniface Museum

 Inside the museum, you can see the wooden coffin that transported Louis’ body back to Manitoba from Regina after our first prime minister Sir John A MacDonald ordered him hung. Louis was buried in another coffin made from rosewood.

Strempler-Rick---Riel-and-the-Cathedral_cc5360fe-5056-a36a-0944443f8ec83d3e

Photo from Tourism Winnipeg website

His grave is right near the St. Boniface Museum. 

This statue of Louis Riel is even closer to my house.  It stands on the grounds of St. Boniface College. It used to be at the Manitoba legislative buildings but it was so controversial it was moved. It shows Louis Riel with his face contorted in anguish. His body is naked and twisted.  Artist Marcien Lemay who created the statue in 1970 said he wanted to show Riel as a martyr who had suffered for his people. Some people, however, found the rather grotesque statue an insult to both Louis Riel and the Metis people. They said Riel had been a great statesman, the founder of Manitoba and his statue should reflect that. In 1994 the statue was moved to the grounds of the college.

I have frequently taken a boat ride down the Assiniboine River which is just a block from my home and have seen this other statue of Louis Riel which faces the river on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature.  It is by artist Miguel Joyal.  He shows Louis Riel wearing his Metis sash and moccasins and holding the Manitoba Act in his hand. The act was based on a List of Rights Louis Riel wrote that included among many other things recognition of Manitoba as a province by the federal government, the right to representatives in the House of Commons and Senate and the use of both French and English in all government communication. 


This is a photo of my brother-in-law Paul and sister-in-law Shirley when they were visiting us in Winnipeg. They are on the Riel Esplanade which is the pedestrian walkway on the architecturally stunning Provencher Bridge just a short walk from our condo. The esplanade is named after Louis Riel.

Manitoba is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2020 so there will be lots of events both big and small that highlight Louis Riel’s contributions to our province and I am excited to be a part of one of themChester Brown wrote a fascinating graphic novel about Louis Riel in 2003. I will be leading a book club about the novel at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on June 9th. You can read more about that here.

Other posts……….

Louis Riel Had Three Coffins

A Controversial Statue

The Provencher Bridge

 

 

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Filed under History, Holidays, Winnipeg

Walking Back in Time

I walk to the gym via Lily Street each day and have always been intrigued by these small pieces of metal art that you find all along the street. One morning I stopped to inspect and photograph some of them.  Each one represents a building that used to stand in the Lily street area.   When looking through the viewfinder the silhouette of the building aligns with where it once stood in the distance. A metal disc under each building silhouette tells you the name of the building and the date it was constructed. This piece, for example, shows Biggs Terrace. It was a housing unit on James Street in 1888.

In this photo from the Manitoba Archives, you can see how it looked over a century ago

Here are two buildings that stood side by side in 1903- Pellissier and Gobeils Soda Waterworks and Clark and Hughes Undertakers.

In this photo from the University of Manitoba Archives, you can see exactly how the buildings looked at the turn of the century.

A couple of the metal art pieces show the location of railroad lines. Looking through this sculpture’s viewfinder you can see where the Galt Avenue Spur Line of the Winnipeg Transfer Railway stood. This one shows housing in the area in 1890And here is the Amy Street Steam Plant in 1924. 

The lovely metal sculptures on Lily Street help us go back in time. They provide a link between present-day Winnipeg and pieces of Winnipeg’s downtown fabric that are long gone.

I searched in vain online for a description of these lovely little silhouettes or their history. I couldn’t find anything not even the name of the artist who made the pieces or when they were erected.  I’d love to hear from any blog reader who may have more information about these gems of public art.   

Other posts

Half-Empty or Half-Full?

A Thirty Foot Pregnant Woman

Bloody Sunday

Cocktails in a Stable

 

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Filed under Art, History, Winnipeg

Edna May Brower- The Other Mrs. Diefenbaker

Last week a columnist, Michael Zwaagstra, who writes for the same newspaper I do, described the unforgettable legacy of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. I have no doubt, as Mr. Zwaagstra contends, that John Diefenbaker made some important contributions to our country. However, he remains an unforgettable character to me for two very different reasons.

My younger brother had a difficult time pronouncing the Prime Minister’s name, so when we were children he always called him Mr. Beef and Bacon. In our family that’s how we came to refer to Mr. Diefenbaker.  Mr. Beef and Bacon is still the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the name of Canada’s thirteenth Prime Minister. The second reason Mr. Diefenbaker is unforgettable for me is because in 1986 I read a book written by Simma Holt called The Other Mrs. Diefenbaker.  It was the biography of John Diefenbaker’s first wife Edna May Brower.  John married her in 1929 and Edna died of leukemia in 1951.

John Diefenbaker and his second wife Olive with American President John Kennedy and his wife Jackie.

In 1953 John got married for a second time to Olive Diefenbaker and never mentioned his first wife again. Author Simma Holt claims that when Diefenbaker wrote his memoirs he did not even record his twenty-two-year marriage to Edna May. He only added a statement about it at the urging of his advisors who said his autobiography would lack authenticity if he did not.

Edna May is buried with John’s parents and brother

John did not pay for a cemetery plot for Edna but buried her with his mother and father. According to many sources, Edna and John’s mother did not get along at all.

Why did John act this way towards his first wife after she had died?   Did he just miss her so desperately that he dared not speak of her? Did he want his second wife to be absolutely certain of his devotion to her? He had briefly dated his second wife Olive a few years before he met Edna.

The first Mrs. Diefenbaker, Edna May Brower was born in Wawanesa, Manitoba.  She was vivacious and outgoing and worked as a schoolteacher in Saskatoon before her marriage.  John had run for political office unsuccessfully many times but with the friendly and personable Edna May at his side, he finally won a seat in Parliament. The Dictionary of Canadian Biography says that Edna May offset John’s rather dour presence with her warmth and spontaneity.

Edna threw herself into advancing her husband’s political career, editing his speeches, acting as his chauffeur and helping him overcome his shyness. She would visit towns on the campaign trail in advance of her husband to gather valuable information before he arrived. She had a regular seat in the House of Commons’ Visitors Gallery and facilitated a warm relationship between her husband and the press.

Edna suffered from some mental health issues for a number of years.  Author Simma Holt suggests this was as a result of Edna discovering that her husband had been unfaithful to her. In the last decade or so two men have come forward claiming to be John Diefenbaker’s illegitimate sons. Despite Edna’s protests, John had Edna institutionalized and authorized electric shock treatments for her. During Edna’s terminal battle with cancer, John remained faithfully at her side. Several Members of Parliament rose to pay tribute to Edna’s contributions to the country after her death in 1951. This was an unprecedented honor for a Canadian who was not an official member of the House.

Learning about John Diefenbaker’s intelligent and gifted first wife and his intriguing relationship with her, is part of what has made him an unforgettable historical figure for me.

Other posts………..

Why Are Most Canadian Prime Ministers Old White Men? 

Agnes McDonald’s Railroad Adventure

I Sat in the Speaker’s Chair

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Filed under Canada, History

A Station of Tears

When I visited the Russlander exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum recently I saw this photo of Mennonites leaving Ukraine for Canada from the Lichtenau Train Station. It reminded me of the visit we made to that train station on our trip to Ukraine.

Both tragic and hopeful journeys began at the Lichtenau train station in the former Molotschna Mennonite colony.

My husband stands beside the tracks at the Lichtenau Train Station in Ukraine where his parents and grandparents began their long immigration journey to Canada

On our trip to Ukraine, we asked our guide, Victor Penner, to take us to the Lichtenau train station. It was from this station both my husband Dave’s mother Anne Enns and his father Cornelius Driedger set off for Canada with their families.
The Molotschna Mennonite Atlas says the original Lichtenau train station was blown up in September of 1943 by retreating German troops but it has been rebuilt. The first station house erected in 1912 was one of the eight stations on the very profitable Tomak Railway Line built by a group of Mennonite investors who wanted a way to get their agricultural and industrial products to market.

My husband’s grandparents and his father just before leaving  Ukraine

On June 23, 1924, one of the first groups of Mennonite emigrants leaving from Lichtenau, included my three-year-old father-in-law Cornie, his parents Abraham and Margaretha Driedger, his maternal grandmother Agatha Friesen and his little sister Agatha. They crowded into one of the 45 boxcars waiting for Mennonite emigrants at the Lichtenau station. 

My husband’s mother’s family just before leaving from Lichtenau. His mother Anne is the little girl on her mother’s lap.

It would be two more years before my mother-in-law Anne, her parents Gertrude and Heinrich Enns, her sister and brothers would also leave from the Lichtenau station for the long trip to Canada.

My husband stands on the railway tracks at the Lichtenau Train Station in Ukraine where his grandparents began their long journey to Canada

Victor, our guide, pointed out the direction the trains with Dave’s family aboard would have traveled and my husband walked out onto the tracks to stand for just an imaginary minute ‘in his grandparents’ shoes’ as they would have faced the new direction their lives were taking.
There are two granite benches on the side of the station facing the tracks. Paul Epp of Toronto designed these functional works of art. His family also left for Canada from the Lichtenau Station. One bench recognizes the thousands of Mennonites who voluntarily departed from Lichtenau for a new life and freedom in North America between 1924 and 1929.

My husband and I sit on a bench outside the train station in Ukraine where our grandparents began their long journey to Canada

The other bench is in memory of the thousands of Mennonites who left from Lichtenau between 1931 and 1940 because they were being sent into exile in Siberia, an exile from which many never returned. 
Apparently, the Lichtenau railway stop was nicknamed The Station of Tears and I imagine it was. The travelers leaving from this station knew they would probably never return to this place and way of life and in many cases they were leaving freinds and relatives who they might never see again. 

A newsletter published by the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta has a poem written by a teenage girl named Susan Penner whose family left from Lichtenau on July 13, 1924. Here are some lines from her poem…………

The train is ready to depart,
Folks are coming from near and far,
On foot in carriages or wagons
The air is dusty, the heavens gray
At the station at Lichtenau.

The wind whistles and sings and whines,
A mother cradles her weeping child,
A samovar is set up for tea,
At the station at Lichtenau

The iron horse whistles;
Composure threatens our control,
We groan and sob, press loving hands,
One more glance towards our homes,
From the station in Lichtenau.
The bell rings out the first call,
The steps are lifted, the door
Is sealed, secured and barred.
The bell rings out a final time
With a jerk, the train leaves – as people sing
“Go Thou Ahead, Oh Jesus Mine!”
Those left behind now wave goodbye
But cannot see through tear-filled eyes,
And deserted soon lies Lichtenau

Other posts about the Russlander Exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum……..

A Visit from Makhno

Ticket to the Future

Famine

 

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Filed under History, Ukraine

A Visit from Makhno

On a recent visit to the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach, this display depicting a raid by bandits on a Mennonite home in Ukraine in the 1920s reminded me of some stories in a family history compiled by my husband’s cousin John Braun. He talks about two times when a bandit named Makhno and his men visited the home of my husband’s grandparents Abram and Margaretha Driedger in Schoenfeld.

This is the blended Driedger/Cornies family. Abram is third from the left in the back row and his stepfather Johann is in the middle with Abram’s mother Katherina Warkentin Driedger Cornies. 

On one occasion Abram was about to be executed by Makhno’s men but one of them had worked as a farm laborer for Abram’s stepfather Johann Cornies and told the others not to shoot Abram because Johann had treated him fairly and kindly.

Abram to the right and his brother in Moscow during World War I where they served as medics a few years before the bandit raids took place

Another time the bandits came into the house and one of them demanded that Abram take off his shoes and give them to him. Abram was angry about giving up his good shoes but since he was at gunpoint he took them off and threw them on the ground in front of the man. Margaretha, my husband’s grandmother could see the bandit’s temper rising so she quickly hurried over, picked up the shoes and handed them contritely to him. After that, the bandits left.

Margaretha and Abram and their children Agatha and Cornelius just before leaving Ukraine for Canada. 

It wouldn’t be long before the constant threat of bandit raids would force Abram and Margaretha to flee Schoenfeld for a safer home in Tiege, then to take refuge with Margaretha’s parents in Petershagen and eventually to emigrate to Canada. 

Other posts……….

Family Picture

My Father-in-Law’s Birthplace

Sand and Salvation

 

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Filed under Family, History