Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan

You are at: Home - > Archives - > Fonds -> Personal Papers -> Johann Driedger

Finding aid for Personal Papers
Finding aid for Publications
Finding aid for Unpublished Essays, Reports, etc.

Guide to the Holdings of MHSS
Section III: Personal Papers
Johann Driedger (1859-1920)


Biographical sketch

Johann Driedger, entrepreneur, farmer, and excommunicated churchman, was born 19 August 1859 to Peter and Maria (nee Olfert) Driedger in the Chortitza Colony in South Russia. He was the third child in a family of nine. In 1881, he married Katharina Martens. They had ten children. Johann died on his farm at Osler, Saskatchewan in 1920 and is buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby cemetery at Reinland.

In 1875 at the age of 15 Johann traveled on the S.S. Canadian with his parents and siblings, landing in Quebec City. They moved to Manitoba where his father, Peter Driedger, helped found the village of Blumenfeld on the West Reserve, an area designated for Mennonite settlers. Johann was baptized on June 10, 1878. In time he became the village Schult or overseer. Little else is known of his early life. His formal training was limited to 6 years of German schooling that included German language writing and reading, Catechism, Bible, and Arithmetic.

In 1904, Johann moved his family to Saskatchewan settling first in Clark's Crossing, eight miles (13 kilometers) north of Saskatoon, where he also became its first postmaster. He homesteaded near Hague, but transferred it to his son Cornelius. He had farms at both Clark's Crossing and Osler. He also bought and operated, at different times, general stores in Osler, Dalmeny, Clark's Crossing, Langham, and Hague. He also bought and sold horses and cattle. An enameled car dealer's licence plate dated 1913 was excavated on the farm where he was lived suggesting he likely sold cars. Johann even got caught up in the speculation of Saskatoon's growth, and in 1919, a year before his death, lost 386 lots (many others also lost land) for failure to pay taxes.

In 1908, for breaking the norms and rules of conduct that he had at his baptism promised to uphold, Johann Driedger was excommunicated by Aeltester Jakob Wiens of the Reinlaender Mennonite Church (after 1936 officially called Old Colony Mennonite Church). Johann operated businesses, drove a car, wore ties, as did his sons (except Jacob), and had his family photographed. His wife and daughters wore dresses, and had their hair styled in ways considered to be worldly. Yet Johann's attachment to his community of faith was unwavering. When the Old Colony Mennonites shunned him causing him to suffer in his store businesses, he drove his car to the church at Neuanlage and attended services. The congregation walked out refusing to worship with him. On another occasion, having been refused entrance to the sanctuary, he used a ladder to view the service by looking through a window. His determination was not an act of dogged defiance, but a desire to be re-united with the community of faith. While his lifestyle was considered to be liberal, his theology was conservative. Johann's extensive correspondence with the Aeltester, and a number of confidantes show a desire to be right with God and the community of believers.

Following his excommunication from the church, Johann Driedger, lost his store at Osler through a fire. When he tried to collect insurance from the Mennoniten Feuer Versicherung (Mennonite Fire Insurance), he was denied any compensation. He took the Church to court and lost. He was involved in several litigation cases, winning some and losing others. [prepared by Jake Buhler for GAMEO]

Scope and content

The Johann Driedger fonds consists of correspondence of Johann Driedger, research on Johann Driedger conducted by his grandson, Leo Driedger, and miscellaneous items and genealogical material related to the Driedger family.

Custodial history

The materials in the Johann Driedger fonds were donated to the MHSS on 14 June 2009 by his grandson, Otto Driedger, who had come into possession of the papers after his grandmother Katharina Driedger passed away.


-Language: English and German
-Description by Alan M. Guenther, 25 June 2009.
-Title based on contents of fonds.

Series description

Correspondence of Johann Driedger
    This series contains the original letters in German and English, photocopies of the originals, and transcriptions of the German letters into Latin character by J. J. Neudorf.
    -Title based on contents of the series.
    -Finding aid: Listing of contents available below

Research and correspondence of Leo Driedger
    This series contains research notes and published as well as unpublished research by Leo Driedger based on the Johann Driedger papers.

File list

Volume 3.114

-Notes on the Johann Driedger Collection, 2009-
-Johann Driedger (1859-1920) - biographical sketch prepared for GAMEO by Jake Buhler, 2009
-"Johann Driedger: Rebel with a Cause," written by grandsons Leo, Otto, Jack and Bill Driedger - Western Development Museum, 1905-2005: Winning the Prairie Gamble, The Saskatchewan Story, Family History Album website
-Photocopies - letters, newspaper clippings on Johann Driedger - excommunication, court cases, 1908-1916 - contributed by Leonard Doell
-Enameled licence plate, 1913.
-Dalmeny Store booklet of credit, 1915-1916 - hundreds of names of debt owing and interest
-Time Book - records for threshing in the Osler, SK, area, 1925 - possibly used by son of Johann Driedger, C. M. Driedger
-Notebook of Blumenfeld / Reinland Post Office, 1900-1903
-Record of Dalmeny Store sales, July 1-6, 1915
-Promissory note to John C. Friesen signed by Abram and Peter Driedger, executors of the Johann Driedger estate, 1922.
-Bank Book, Canadian Bank of Commerce, 1905-1907; cheques dated 1916 laid in
-Standard Lektions-Bilderkarten, 12 Aug. 1917
-Dental Contract receipt, Dr. Robinson Dental Specialist, Winnipeg, 1914
-Land Patent issued to Peter Klasen, 1883 - Manitoba, NW21-1-4W Prime Meridian
-Map - The Hudson's Bay Company Lands in North East Saskatchewan, 1910 - lands available for sale or lease
-Map - Index Showing the Townships in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, 1910 - Dominion lands available to homestead entry
-Land contract for sale of land by Johann Driedger to S. Burlir and G. W. Hamilton, 1911; also details of lands owned by Johann Driedger written by Jake Buhler, 2009.
-Bills, tax receipts - Johann Driedger, 1919; C. M. Driedger, 1921-1934; John Driedger, 1920-1926; Henry Driedger, 1922; Abram Driedger, 1925
-Letters, contracts, receipts, 1883-1927 - German
-Letter book, 1903-1904
-Letters, court documents, 1873-1914; includes "Department Emigration Dominion Reservieren Warents Cutefirte Agricultur Garante," dated 1873
-Photocopies of letters, court documents, 1908-1911
-Driedger, Johan - correspondence - Leo, Otto, Elmer, Bill and Jack Driedger, drafts of "Rebel with a Cause," 1979-2002
-Driedger Day 1968, Driedger 1973 Reunion - correspondence, programmes
-"Twixt One and Ten: Narratives 1915-1926" by Margaret L. Dangelmaier
-Leo Driedger - notes, letters - 1975-1980, photocopies of letters - 1911-1914, published papers:

    Driedger, Leo, and Dan Zehr. "The Mennonite State-Church Trauma: Its Effect on Attitudes of Canadian Students and Leaders." Mennonite Quarterly Review 48, no. 4 (Oct. 1974): 515-526.
    Driedger, Leo. "Doctrinal Belief: A Major Factor in the Differential Perception of Social Issues." The Sociological Quarterly 15 (Winter 1974): 66-80.
    Driedger, Leo, and Glenn Church. "Residential Segregation and Institutional Completeness: A Comparison of Ethnic Minorities." Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 11, no. 1 (1974): 30-52.
    Boldt, Leonard C. Fortieth Anniversary, Osler Mennonite Church, 1928-1968. N.p., 1968.

-Burkhard Driedger - correspondence, genealogical information, 1962-1966.
-Photocopies of letters, 1904-1909
-Photocopies of letters, 1907-1919 - German and English
-Letters transcribed in Latin type, 1900-1920; correspondence in English
-Photocopied transcript - Inquiry Re: Practices of Old Colonier Mennonite Church - Minutes of Evidence, 1908
-Research, correspondence, genealogical material for Peter Driedger (1831-1919) and family; research papers: Leo Driedger, “Individualism vs. Community: An Adaptation of Erikson's Ontogeny of Ritualization." Diane Driedger, "Deviancy: Johann Driedger vs. The Saskatchewan Old Colony Mennonites of the Hague-Osler Reserve."
-Photocopied letters with some transcription, 1873-1901, 1910
-Letters transcribed in Latin type, 1900-1915; photocopied letters
-Photocopied letters , 1912-14
-Photocopied letters with handwritten transcriptions in Latin letters, 1911-1912.
-Letters (originals) - 1900, 1910-1919
-Legal records, printed in German, 1914-1915 - multiple copies
-"Legal document - No. 344, Supreme Court, Saskatoon, 1914"

Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan

Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road,
Saskatoon, SK, S7K 7H8
Archive Hours: Monday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. & by appointment on Wed. evening.