Errol Chenery with wife Lila in 1962
William Errol Chenery (1899-1968) was a Canadian mechanic who remarkably chose to serve in both world wars. His family kindly allowed me to share his story for Remembrance Day.
Queen Elizabeth graces my historic Canadian $1 bill
Today we mourn and remember a great Queen. My late friend, Dr. Valerie Giles, researched the Queen in Canada and shared personal memories that I believe she would have been pleased to share here. We learn about Princess Elizabeth’s first visit to Canada in 1951, her 1953 coronation, and her 1994 visit to open the new University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, B.C.
The Mennonite Centre serves people in need in Ukraine
Since the horrific invasion by Russia in February, the Canadian-based Mennonite Centre in Ukraine has increased relief work while providing near-daily war updates. These gripping accounts provided the opportunity for me to extract the found poem below (slightly treated).
Valerie serves up tasty food for me and my sister
My writer friend Valerie Giles was a woman of faith. She shared pivotal moments about her road to Roman Catholicism in her history column in the Prince George Citizen. Her stories about serving with food were mouthwatering!
Susanne’s daughter Lena’s wedding to Kurt von Schmude in 1948.
Susanne stands at the far left; my father beside the groom.
My father’s aunt Susanne Plett Janzen was a courageous widow who sheltered my parents when they first escaped to West Germany in 1947. Her flight from Ukraine in 1943 also brings to mind so many fleeing today.
Young Lutherans and a Mennonite veteran, ca. 1945
Krippendorf, East Germany (See Marianne Preisser Rempel below)
As I have been translating obituaries to learn more about families and history, some stood out for their touching writing. Others represented pivotal or representative moments in Mennonite history. Below are some of these memorable stories. All were also shared with Bethel College’s Biographical Wiki for each person named.
Hermann Jantzen's inspiring memoirs
The amazing 1880-1881 trek of Mennonites from South Russia to Central Asia offers many life lessons. Some of those are in the lives lost along the way. It is my hope to honour the dear people who died while following their dream, or that of their family’s, to achieve freedom from military service. A short travelogue accompanies this list of all those found who died until 1884, when the first group left for America.
Operating a cash register in the 1970s
Our first home computer was a Commodore 64 that could talk. My ex coded the machine to speak in a robot-like voice. I can still hear its first words: “My name is Ergo.” Much better than the fake messages I now get about my “arrest warrant” or a large purchase on my credit card!
Walter Ratliff’s excellent book discusses the journey Helena took
Helena Graewe Warkentin (1865-1942) shares her amazing story about how she travelled across deserts and mountains in a wagon train from South Russia to Turkestan, Central Asia in 1880.
Dimitri and Agathe with children (in birth order):
Anna, Tina, Daniel, Willy, Liselotte and Peter in Romania, ca. 1950
My dad’s aunt Agathe Graewe wrote from Jena, Germany after the city was bombed in 1945. The family later wrote from another sort of war zone, after they were forced to move to communist Romania. I’ve also included my dad’s story of their legendary romance.