This page is a text version of the RM of Rhineland History Book. You can purchase a PDF copy of the book in our online store. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the purchased version. The purchased version also includes each image in the original book.

Page Index of the RM of Rhineland History Book

Previous - Page 145 or Next - Page 147

In Canada and the United States organizations quickly sprang up to co-ordinate and facilitate the sending of aid to the Soviet Union. The Canadian Mennonite Central Committee solicited aid from various Mennonite groups in Western Canada, including congregations in the R.M. of Rhineland. The Bergthaler Church encouraged each member to give one dollar a month and donate one bushel of wheat for every 500 bushels harvested, to the relief program. In Altona D. W. Friesen and C. C. Bergman went from home to home collecting donations and people all over the municipality contributed clothing and money. Even the municipal council made grants to pay shipping costs for clothing and medicine sent to Russia. 37

While in North America the study commission had explored settlement possibilities in Canada, United States and Mexico, and had decided that Canada offered the best possibilities because of Federal restrictions on immigration in the United States and the political in­ stability in Mexico. 38 While Canada also had restrictions barring the entry of Mennonite immigrants, the return to power of the Liberal Party in the federal election of 1921 brought a change. By June of 1922 William Lyon Mackenzie King, holding true to his promise made to Mennonite representatives, repealed the 1919 Order in Council that had barred Mennonite immigration.

Even before the federal government had opened its doors, prepara­ tions had been made to receive the immigrants. A Mennonite delegation had already received assurances from Premier Norris of Manitoba that the Russian immigrants were welcome and an inter-Mennonite immi­ gration administration had been organized;" This administration, named the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization, had been organized on May 17, 1922 at a meeting held in the Gretna home of H. H. Ewert. Led by its chairman, David Toews, this board would over the next years fund and co-ordinate the massive immigration.

On June 22, 1923 the first group of 738 persons left Chortitza by train for the Baltic Port of Libau. Here medical inspections by Canadian officials revealed some distressing findings. The ravages of civil war and the ensuing hygienic decay had taken its toll and close scrutiny of the Mennonite groups arriving at Libau revealed a high incidence of trachoma, an extremely contagious eye disease. Almost 13 per cent of that year's 3,000 emigrants were detained and prevented from con­ tinuing on to Canada." This caused a great deal of anguish as families were temporarily broken up. Those who passed the medical examina­ tions, boarded the CPR boats and embarked for England and Canada.

The first five hundred immigrants arrived at Quebec City on July 16, 1923. There they were met by Peter P. Epp of Altona and Gerhard