Mennonite Heritage Village

The Russlander Centennial Celebrations

March 30, 2023

By Andrea Klassen

This summer, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will be joining the rest of the Mennonite community across Canada in commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the “Russländer” Mennonites. The Russländer began arriving in Canada in 1923. They left the Soviet Union after years of violence, famine, and epidemic. From 1923 to 1929, about 21,000 were fortunate to find new homes in Canada.

Photo caption: Russländer Mennonites departing the Soviet Union at the Lichtenau train station in 1924.

Photo credit: Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, CMBS NP012-01-4

The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC), partnering with TourMagination, is leading the Canada-wide celebrations with “Memories of Migration: Russländer 100 Tour,” a train trip that follows in the footsteps the Russländer’s arrival in Canada as they journeyed from Quebec to destinations across the Canadian west. The train tour will begin in Quebec City on July 6 and end in Abbotsford, British Columbia on July 25. The train will be stopping in each province, where provincial Mennonite historical societies will be providing coordinated programming for this anniversary for the train guests and the wider community.

In Manitoba, a sub-committee of the MHSC has been busy putting together a full schedule of events to mark this anniversary in Manitoba on the weekend of July 13 to 17.  Here’s a preview of the community events happening in Manitoba:

  • Friday, July 14 to Saturday, July 15: The Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies is hosting an academic conference on themes related to the Russländer Mennonites at the University of Winnipeg
  • Saturday, July 15 (evening): “Singing our Journey: Sängerfest 2023,” a massive, multi-choir Sängerfest will take place at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg
  • Sunday, July 16: MHV is hosting a commemorative worship service, the award-winning exhibit “The Russländer,” and tours of the village throughout the morning and afternoon
  • Sunday, July 16 (late afternoon to evening): Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre Society will be performing original theater productions on a Russländer theme in the late afternoon, also hosted at MHV

These events will all be open to the general public, so mark your calendars and save the dates! Tickets and/or pre-registration will be required for some, so visit for more information on how you can get involved in celebrating this historic anniversary with us.


Upcoming Events:

Annual General Meeting, Tuesday, April 4, 7pm. Presentation of essential reports, approval of financial statements and election of board members. Open to the public.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt, Saturday, April 8, 10am – 1pm. Family activity day, including finding chocolate eggs all over the museum grounds. Free admission.

Volunteer Orientation, Thursday, April 27, 7pm. Time to get ready for a new season! An informational evening for new and current volunteers in the MHV Auditorium.

MHV Village Books & Gifts and Galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. Currently MHV has two new exhibits for you to enjoy: “Resurfacing: Mennonite Floor Patterns” by Margruite Krahn and “Beauty in the Ordinary” by Southeast Artists.