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Spring 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 1 · pp. 123–24 

Book Review

Mennonites in Winnipeg

Leo Driedger. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1990. 95 pages.

Reviewed by Ken Reddig

Written as an introduction to Winnipeg Mennonites for delegates to the 12th Mennonite World Conference held in Winnipeg in July 1990, this modest sociological sketch briefly surveys the establishment and growth of most significant Mennonite institutions, as well as Mennonite congregations in general, within the city of Winnipeg.

The booklet provides basic information on the immigration of various Russian Mennonite church groups to Manitoba. In a quick analysis of Mennonite urbanization patterns, the booklet offers some valuable insights on how and where Mennonites located in Winnipeg, the first Canadian city into which Mennonites moved.

Intrigued with patterns of settlement, Driedger traces the development of North Kildonan, where many Mennonites eventually were to settle, from a small village on the outskirts of Winnipeg into a “Rurban” settlement within the borders of the city. Movement outward from North Kildonan, as well as the transformation of this village into a typical urban centre, is described.

Along with urbanization, Driedger notes how quickly the Mennonites were to acculturate on some levels. For example, on the economic front, Driedger notes that the barriers of cultural differences were soon scaled as Mennonites became involved in a variety of commercial activity. Some of their cottage industries grew rapidly to become leading industries in Canada. However, he never adequately addresses the fact that within this acculturation a separateness from the world was still maintained. Language and the tightly-bounded congregational communities still remained as barriers to mass acculturation. This duality existed for a considerable period of time; the issue is not adequately addressed.

Replete with numerous photographs, maps and charts, the booklet is written in a clear and relatively jargon-less style. However, given its intended audience, one wonders whether a glossary identifying the various church groups, together with a theological description, might not have been helpful. It is certain that non-North Americans will probably be confused with the subtle distinctions of the Mennonite denominations within the city of Winnipeg. {124}

As a brief introduction to Mennonites in Winnipeg the booklet certainly fulfills its stated purpose. The hint, within the introduction, that a fuller treatment of the subject is needed, is certainly appropriate. Perhaps Dr. Driedger will take up the challenge and provide a broad-ranging and more complete analysis of Mennonites in Winnipeg. In the meantime, however, this booklet is a good contribution to the study of Mennonites in an urban centre in Canada.

Ken Reddig, Archivist
Center for MB Studies
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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