Memories of Migration: Russlaender 100 Tour
Relive Your History on a Cross-Canada Train Tour!
This three-part Russlaender Centenary Tour will re-enact the historic migration of 21,000 Mennonites from Russia to Canada beginning in 1923. With the help of established Mennonites, the migrants found new homes in Canada in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. This tour celebrates the faith of these newcomers, memorializes the challenges of resettlement, and acknowledges race and displacement in Canadian history.
Click here to watch a Tour Preview. Representatives from Mennonite historical committees in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC gave presentations about historical sites in their region that travellers will visit on the Russlaender cross-Canada train tour. Also, hear about the train journey, accommodation and city sights in Quebec City, Montreal, and Winnipeg.
Part 1: Quebec City to Kitchener, ON, July 6-12, 2023 (7-days)
Quebec: Begin in Quebec City, where the first of these Mennonite immigrants arrived in 1923. After exploring the immigrant Quarantine Station on Grosse Isle and visiting the old city, participants will take the train to the Montreal headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway. At a gala dinner sponsored by CPR at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel, Dr. Aileen Friesen will explore the connection between Mennonites and the railway. As well, Senator Peter Harder will reflect on his family’s migration experience.
Ontario: Experience a re-enactment of the 1924 walk from the Waterloo train station to Erb Street Mennonite Church, followed by a “faspa” dinner. Visit the Mennonite Archives of Ontario at Conrad Grebel University College, Brubacher House museum, and other local sites. Enjoy a multi-media event with a choir, hymn sing, and historical readings. On the final day, choose from a bus trip to Waterloo’s Old Order Mennonite country or the Niagara Peninsula.
Train Schedule for Part 1:
July 8th- Depart Quebec City at 8:00am, Arrive Montreal at 11:35am
July 9th- Depart Montreal at 8:50am, Arrive in Toronto at 2:18pm
Part 2: Toronto, ON to Saskatoon, SK, July 12-20, 2023 (9-days)
Manitoba: Travelling by train from Toronto to Winnipeg, enjoy lectures, oral history, hymn sings, and sharing family stories with fellow travelers. Attend lectures at a Russian Mennonite migration conference. Gather with local Mennonites at Singing our Journey: Sängerfest 2023. Visit the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. Visit the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, see an original play on a Russlaender theme staged by Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre and tour the Mennonite Heritage Archives.
Saskatchewan: In Rosthern, SK visit the Station Arts Centre next to the railway where immigrants de-trained in 1923, Rev. David Toews’ gravesite, the old German-English Academy, the Anabaptist Centre, and Rosthern Junior College.
Train Schedule for Part 2:
July 12th- Depart Toronto at 9:45am, Arrive in Winnipeg at 7:30 pm (July 13th)
July 17th- Depart Winnipeg at 9:30pm, Arrive in Saskatoon at 9:50 AM (July 18th)
Part 3: Saskatoon, SK to Abbotsford, BC July 20-25, 2023 (6-days)
Saskatchewan/Alberta: Board a bus in Saskatoon to tour the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village just east of Edmonton. At the Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, hear Russlaender stories and view an interactive map of Mennonite Churches in Alberta.
BC: Marvel at the mountains on a train to Abbotsford. Visit the three original Russlaender Mennonite villages in the Fraser Valley, Yarrow, Greendale, and Arnold to explore pioneer life. Hear how the government drained Sumas Lake to establish these three villages, with a devastating impact on the Stó:lō people. Visit the Mennonite Heritage Museum.
Train Schedule for Part 3:
July 21st- Depart Edmonton at 00:01 AM (July 22nd), Arrive in Vancouver at 8:00 AM (July 23rd)
ABOUT THIS TOUR:
The tour is planned by the Russlaender Centenary Committee and sponsored by the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada in partnership with the six provincial Mennonite Historical Societies and Mennonite Central Committee. Tour leaders are Ingrid Riesen Moehlmann and Henry Paetkau.
TourMagination is assisting with tour logistics.
In gratitude for the welcome Mennonites received in Canada, tour participants are invited to support three Mennonite Central Committee programs: MCC Ukraine, International Refugee Settlement, and Indigenous Neighbours.