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1923-1930, 1947-1964 (Creation)
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Between 1923 and 1930 almost 6,000 Mennonite households (20,201 individuals) decided to leave the USSR and settled in Canada. Some of the factors which led to this migration were the loss of control over their financial and religious affairs, the inability to provide adequate food for their families and the fear of military activities. There were also factors such as the hope that in Canada they would be able to regain control over these aspects of their lives and acquire enough land that their families would grow in comfort and be supported by the produce of the land. Many of these people also faced the reluctance of the USSR authorities to provide exit visas. Towards the end of the 1920s, there was a major attemp of many to get exit visas in Moscow (see "Vor den Toren Moskaus" by H.J. Willms, 1960 also published in English under the title "At the gate of Moscow"), at a time after economic and political changes dictated that no more immigrants would be accepted in Canada.
The Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization of Rosthern, Saskatchewan created a registration form for each family that came to Canada under its auspices. These forms were cross-referenced to the ledger books which recorded the transportation debt which the Board owed Canadian Pacific Railway.
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These registrations forms initially consisted of a two-sided 5.5 x 8 1/2" newsprint sheets that were preprinted and completed by hand.
The face of each record identifies the given and surnames of all household members (maiden name of the mother is occasionally identified), their birthdates, and generally their birthplaces. It also contains a single word indicating how the trip costs were paid, and the cross-reference numbers to the financial ledgers books.
The back of each record tells the story of the journey from Russia to Canada in the following detail: place of last residence, place and date when the journey began, all dates of arrival/departure at ports, including ship names. It identifies the intended first place of residence in Canada and may list a name of a relative who had previously immigrated to Canada or the United States. The back of each record may also record information about persons who were medically-detained in any of the ports.
The printed registration form changed to a 8" X 10" one-sided form around 1929. Similar information was gathered from each immigrant. The second migration period (i.e. 1947-1964) used this revised form -- sometimes filled in with a typewriter and other times hand-written.
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1) Index ledgers created for each year of the immigration period. 2) Index to the heads of household on each form available for the 1923-1930 period. 3) Index for the period 1947-1964 ( a work in progress - See MHC staff).
Online version of finding aid available at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives/holdings/immigrationindex/
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