Exhibit runs July 1 – August 26
Station Arts Centre Gallery
This photographic exhibit tells the story of Mennonites who disembarked at the Rosthern train Station in 1923.
Through photographs and text this exhibit explores the voices and experiences of Mennonites as they processed the upheaval in their communities, as they said goodbye to family, friends, and the lives they once knew, and as they planned for a future in Canada.
In 1789, Mennonites entered into the Russian Empire, settling in present-day southern Ukraine. Over the next 125 years, this small, German-speaking ethno-religious community built villages, churches, urban enclaves, and businesses, creating cohesive communities across a multi-ethnic empire. Under the weight of political, economic, and social change, this empire collapsed in 1917. This collapse unleashed a violent civil war that killed millions, including hundreds of Mennonites; typhus and famine claimed more victims. For Mennonites, help from the Mennonite Central Committee would save some from starvation and start the process of rebuilding under the new Soviet regime. As life improved, the possibility of immigration to Canada, closed since 1919, opened again to Mennonites. On June 22, 1923, the first trainful of over 700 Mennonites left Chortitza, Soviet Ukraine. They arrived in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, in late July. Over the next several years a third of the Mennonite population, 21,000 people, found a new home in Canada.
Curated by Dr. Aileen Friesen
for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the arrival of the Russlaender Mennonites in Canada. 600 disembarked at the Station Arts Centre platform in 1923.