Annual Meeting and Niagara Russlaender Centenary Tour


Saturday, June 15, 2024 - 8:30am to 6:00pm


Niagara region

Event type: 

  • Public meeting

The year 2023 marked the 100th anniversary of the first arrival in Canada of Mennonite immigrants from the Soviet Union (Russlaender). The destination for this first group was western Canada. Immigration would continue until 1930. In 1924, Russlaender arrivals began to make their home in Ontario. This tour is based on a similar day trip organized by the Society as part of the "Memories of Migration" cross-Canada train tour that took place in July 2023. At the time, our Society received many requests to reprise the tour for local participants.

Cost: $90 per person (includes tour and lunch)

Instructions to register:

1. Fill out the registration form

2. Pay by Interac etransfer or cheque. Etransfers can be sent to Please indicate Niagara tour in the memo line. Cheques can be made out to the "Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario" and sent to the Society, c/o Conrad Grebel University College, 140 Westmount Rd N, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6.


8:30am - depart first pickup point at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, 110 Doon Road, Kitchener

10:00am - depart second pickup point at QEW/Victoria Avenue Carpool Lot, 3246 Marina Blvd., Vineland Station

12:30-1:45 - lunch and annual meeting at Niagara United Mennonite Church

4:30pm - drop off in Vineland

6:00pm - drop off at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate

This tour will visit the The First Mennonite Church (current building 1962), Historic Mennonite Burial Ground, and the Bicentennial Monument erected in 1986 to commemorate 200 years of Mennonites in Canada.  The morning tour will highlight Russlaender arrivals, first farms purchased by Russlaender immigrants, local industries and farms which employed the Russlaender Mennonites, early meeting locations and churches, Vineland United Mennonite Home for the Aged, Koop sisters Obstetrical Nursing Home, and local stories of immigrants provided by descendants of local families.

Lunch will be catered at Niagara United Mennonite Church in Virgil by Antipastos (St. Catharines), followed by a brief Annual General Meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario.  The afternoon will further trace the expansion of Russlaender settlements into the Virgil - Niagara area.  The tour will travel through Niagara Wine Country and tender fruit orchards of the Niagara area. Again, local churches, farms, businesses and industries established by the Russlaender immigrants will be highlighted as well as significant landmarks (cemetery, oak trees of interest, site of the former Virgil Bible School and Eden High School). The tour will finish with a drive into the City of St. Catharines and discuss the further expansion of the Mennonite settlement into this urban area, highlighting where these settlers worked and worshiped.