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H. H. Ewert- Principal of the MEl and MCI1891-1934. Born on April 12, 1855 in Ober-Nassau in West Prussia he re­ ceived his early education in the vil­ lage school and secondary schooling in neighbouring Thorn. After the gov­ ernment introduced compulsory con­ scription for all males in 1867, the Ewert family and other Mennonites left Prussia in 1874. Settling in Marion County. Kansas with his parents, H. H. Ewert continued his education at the State Normal School at Emporia, Kan­ sas, the DesMoines Institute, and the theological seminary of the Evangeli­ cal Synod in Missouri. In 1882 he mar­ ried Christian Baer and the same year began teaching in the Kansas Men­ nonite Training School which later de­

veloped into Bethel College. In 1891 he came to Gretna, Manitoba to re-open the MEl which had been started by a group of progressive Mennonite immigrants in 1889. In 1908 when the MEl moved to Altona he helped establish the MCI in Gretna and continued on as principal until his death in 1934. Against considerable odds he succeeded in recruiting and training enough qualified Mennonite teachers to staff the Mennonite public elementary schools. When Mennonite private schools were Virtually abolished in 1916 every single Mennonite public school was staffed by a qualified Mennonite teacher - many trained by Ewert himself. Mr. Ewert was also a firm believer in the desirability and necessity of retaining the German language. It was one of the ironies of his life, he is reported to have said, that he spent the first half of his career advocating Mennonite adaption to the larger society and the learning of English, and the second half urging the retention of the German language and the old ways. Between the years 1891 and 1902 Ewert was also the Government inspector of Mennonite Schools. In addition to these duties he was also the prime mover in the formation of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, the founder and editor of the conference periodical Der Mitarbeiter, and initiated the idea of forming the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization which facilitated the immigration of twenty thousand Mennonites from the Soviet Union to Canada.

Credit: CMCA

and the German language, was not shared by many of the area Men­ nonites. The Reinlaender group especially wanted nothing to do with modern, secular society and they had little use for the High German taught in the Gretna School. In addition to this the formation of school districts in their areas forced them to support two schools and created much resentment among the Mennonites themselves.

The Bergthaler Church Split

The establishment of the M.E.I. in 1889 and the appointment ofH.

H. Ewert as leader of the school in 1891, were seen as harmful develop­ ments by the Reinlaender Mennonite Church, but they did not threaten

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