Fonds MHC16 - Cornelius H. and Elisabeth (Fast) Froese family fonds

Inventory File list

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Cornelius H. and Elisabeth (Fast) Froese family fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • 1931-1937 (Creation)
    Cornelius H. and Elisabeth (Fast) Froese

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Physical description

4 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Cornelius H. Froese (1896-1948) married Elisabeth Fast (1901-1994) in 1921 in the Orenburg Colony, Russia. The Fast family had left the Molotschna Colony (Mariental, Gnadenfeld Volost) in 1896 and been first settlers in the village of Pretoria, in the Orenburg colony, where they had acquired 40 desjatin (hectares) of land. Four of the nine children had been born before this move. Elisabeth Fast who marred Cornelius Froese was born in this new settlement. After she married Froese, they lived in the village of Kubanka, Orenburg. In 1929 they left for Moscow and emigrated to Canada, together with one son, John Froese (b. 1924) – two other children had died young. Except for older brother David J. Fast (1894-1971) who moved to Brazil in 1929, the entire Fast family remained in Russia. Elisabeth (Fast) Froese’s parents, Johann A. Fast (1862-1937) and Maria (Koehn) Fast (1866-1933) and some of the siblings wrote letters to keep in contact with the family members that had left Russia.
In Canada, Cornelius H. & Elisabeth Froese, settled at Hepburn, Saskatchewan where Cornelius worked as a blacksmith for many years. They had a daughter Bertha born to them in 1931. Cornelius Froese died in 1948. Elisabeth later married Henry Block of Great Deer, Saskatchewan. Son John Froese (1924-2012) studied at University of Manitoba and Mennonite Brethren Bible College and had a long career in educational administration (Deputy superintendent of School in Yukon, Director of studies, Canadian Coast Guard College, Cape Breton, and Chief of International Training for the Department of Transport, Ottawa). Daughter Bertha also married a Henry Block. She pursued a nursing career and eventually retired in Winnipeg.
Susanna Fast (1908-1987), youngest sister of Mrs. Elisabeth (Fast) Froese lived and died in Kubanka. She kept a journal and also wrote a number of letters to her relatives that left Russia. She had a daughter, Hilda (b. 1938) who married a Jacob Krahn. Hilda and her family immigrated to Germany.

Custodial history

Most of the materials were received and collected by Cornelius H. and Elisabeth (Fast) Froese of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. They eventually came into the possession of their two children -- Mrs. Bertha Block and John Froese.

Scope and content

This fond consists of letters, poems, and other written excerpts which were received and preserved by the family of Cornelius and Elisabeth Froese. The items give a picture of life in the former Soviet Union during the 1930s. They show the sense of dire poverty, poor crops, and loss of property and goods. They speak of life working in a collective farm and the difficulties created when the required food or fees could not be raised. One letter comes from Brazil, where another family member emigrated. A few letters seems to be from a later period when it was possible to travel between the USSR and Canada and visit relatives. Two letters were translated by John Froese (1924-2012). The remainder of the items were translated by the Mennonite Heritage Centre volunteer Ed Enns in 2012.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Patricia Froese-Germaine of Ottawa (daughter of John Froese).


Arranged and described Alf Redekopp, December 2012.

Language of material

  • German

Script of material

  • Gothic

Language and script note

80% in Gothic German script.

Location of originals

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English translations accompany each item in the collection

Restrictions on access

None to access

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General note

Acc. No. 2012-073

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physical storage

  • Box: Volume 5647