Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan

You are at: Home - > Reports -> Special Event (2011)

Special Event at MHSC Annual Meeting in Saskatoon

(Now archived on this site-page)

The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada's (MHSC) Business meetings will be hosted here in Saskatoon from January 20-22nd (2011). Although the business meetings may not appeal to all, the public is invited to attend especially a Book and Film Presentation by Ruth Derksen Siemens, from Abbotsford, BC.

Ruth Derksen Siemens will give a presentation on her book, Remember Us: Letters from Stalin's Gulag. It is about a cache of letters she found that were written by relatives held in Siberia in the 1930s, and the history gleaned from the letters.

Her film, THROUGH THE RED GATE produced by Out-to-See Entertainment Inc., will be shown too. You may wish to visit Ruth's website, for more information, or to prepare yourself.

Date: Friday, January 21, 2011
Time: 7:30 pm.
Place: Bethany Manor Fellowship Centre, 120 LaRonge Road,
Saskatoon, SK.

Introducing the Author, Ruth Derksen Siemens

Ruth Derksen Siemens is a first-generation Canadian of Russian Mennonite descent who was born in Vancouver. She spent many summers at her grandparents' raspberry farm in Yarrow (in the eastern Fraser Valley); an immersion into the culture of a replicated Russian Mennonite settlement. As a pre-teen, she moved with her family from Vancouver to another Mennonite village. The small town of Arnold was a retreat into Russian Mennonite customs, rituals and language.

Music was her first career choice, but a longing to understand language and its rhetorical uses motivated her to return to university. Ruth is now an instructor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of British Columbia, a researcher and a historian. Although her academic education has been directed toward the philosophy of language, her interest in historical events and documents continues. Her thesis at the University of Sheffield in Great Britain investigates a corpus of 463 letters written during the 1930s from Stalin's Russia, some of which are included in her newly released book, Remember Us: Letters From Stalin's Gulag (1930-37).

The website ( presents images of original letters, translations, photos of the writers, a preview of the film, and artists’ exhibits. A second website (no longer available) offered the film by the same name as a pay-per-view. This one-hour documentary, Through the Red Gate: Voices from Stalin's Gulag, is now available on YouTube HERE. It re-enacts the story of the letter writers and the discovery of the letters found in a Campbell's Soup box in a Canadian prairie attic.


You may help promote this event in your church or circle of contacts by downloading, printing and posting this MHSC - Ruth Derksen Event Poster. Thank you!

P.S. The next night, Saturday, January 22, Ruth Derksen Siemens will be in Swift Current for this presentation at the Zion Mennonite Church at 7:30 pm. If you can't hear her in Saskatoon, perhaps you can hear her in Swift Current.

Holiday Travel Presents

R U S S I A Historical Moscow
& Mennonite Siberia Omsk-Slavgorod Mennonite Settlements

Optional Post Tour Extension-Ukraine Mennonite Colonies - June 5- 23, 2011. Plan ahead for next year, but remember the booking deadline is March 15, 2011.

For tour details contact tour host: Len Loeppky
14 Springwood Bay,
Steinbach, MB, R5G 2E8 or 1-204-326-2613

[last updated - Sept/9/2021]

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. & 7:00-9:00 p.m.