Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan

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By Whatever Name - by Elizabeth (Reimer) Bartel

By Whatever Name - Book Signing - Sept 8, 2013

Author, Elizabeth (Reimer) Bartel, shared about her book, and signed copies as a special guest of MHSS in the Fellowship Hall at Bethany Manor, 120 LaRonge Road, Saskatoon, on Sunday September 8, at 2:30 pm. Coffee and cookies were provided.

By Whatever Name, is 220 pages, is self-published, and sells for $20. It is available from MHSS.

This book is not exactly a history, but not a novel either. With some names changed, it is a narrative of a time in Southern Manitoba when John Holdeman arrived from Kansas. He came preaching as an evangelist, and soon had a following which pulled families and villages apart.

Bartel based this book on the life and experiences of her grandfather, John Barkman Toews, who was only a boy of nine, when he arrived in Canada as part of the Mennonite migration of 1874, one of the very first waves of Mennonites arriving from the Ukraine. He was an observant youth of 19 when all this took place. They had come to Canada as whole villages, but the p reaching of John Holdeman, a traveling preacher from Kansas, broke up these bonds between families, and in mostly Kleine Gemeinde villages.

A new denomination, The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, was formed in the midst of that upheaval. Now, more than 100 years later, quiet settlements of these people are found in various parts of the Canadian prairies, although the largest number, over 5,000, are in Kansas. (More information can be found on this denomination on this this wiki page.)

Saskatchewan Connections

There are small settlements of The Church of God in Christ, (also known commonly as Holdemaner, or Black caps) at Neuanlage, three miles south of Hague, and at Swanson, a rural area east of Delisle and Laura, which are south of Saskatoon, and also near Swift Current in southern Saskatchewan. They did not come check out this book's slant.

Although the author, Bartel, is Manitoba-born, her husband, Dennis Bartel, is originally from Herbert, SK., and his father Hugo, before him, was a settler at Drake, SK. Presently, they are retired and living on Vancouver Island.

More about the author, Elizabeth (Reimer) Bartel

Elizabeth (Reimer) Bartel

"Reading has been my greatest joy all my life. I had to read enough before I was ready to write," says Elizabeth, age 88. All that reading has paid off as she has written three books now in her later years.

Even Such Is Time, was her first novel, a family saga published in 2002.

Then she founded a poetry co-op called, The Mostly Poets. Together they published, A Murder of Crones, in 2007.

In 2010 Bartel came out with About Those Reimers as a memoir, revealing both the blessing and the burden of her family's history.

Staying with her family history theme, Bartel's 2012 book, By Whatever Name shows how new teaching and doctrinal winds affected her originating family and village history.

Her last two mentioned books are available at McNally Robinson bookstore in Saskatoon.

The MHSS Book Signing

Jake Buhler, president of MHSS made the group welcome and told stories of the start of the Mennonite Reserves in Manitoba. Jack Driedger, author of Enn Bloomenheim Opjewossen, introduced Elizabeth Reimer Bartel, as he had gone to RJC with her husband, Dennis Bartel, and had met them as a couple at various times.

Elizabeth Bartel reading from By Whatever Name

Elizabeth spoke herself, and explained that she had always wanted to write, but didn't really sit down to write her books until later in life. Now she has published three, of which, By Whatever Name is the third.

Elizabeth told stories and read passages from her book to show some of the history and the flavour of her grandfather's experiences with the Holdeman preachers, and the changes they brought to that early Mennonite settlement in Manitoba.

At the end, Jake Buler head in a Q and A session, where the audience could inter-act and ask questions.

This was when Elizabeth had opportunity to show off and read from her earlier two books, About Those Reimers, which is more autobiographical, and Even Such Is Time, her first novel, which is about a girl sent to work as a maid, based on the life of a friend.

Vera and Werner Falk at the book table

Afterward, people lingered over a light coffee/cookie faspa to visit and of course, all were welcome to purchase Elizabeth's books. Vera and Werner Falk were ready at the book signing table with new copies of all three of the Bartel books. These books can still be ordered from MHSS. (See book section).

[last updated - Nov/18/2021]

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.