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The term Kanadier developed in Canada. It identified the Mennonites who immigrated from Russia in the 1870s, and distinguished them from those who immigrated during the 1920s (Rußländer). The Kanadier Mennonites were shaped by difficult pioneer experiences, and by conflicts with provincial governments over control of schools and municipal organizations. Before World War I a number of divisions were created within Kanadier Mennonite churches by the activity of Mennonite missionaries from the United States.

Differences between Kanadier and Rußländer sometimes resulted in tensions. The most visible tension occured during World War II when Kanadier and Rußländer disagreed on how to relate to the Canadian government over the issue of exemption from military service. The two groups organized separate committees to relate to the government. The Kanadier committee, called the Ältestenkomitee (Committee of Elders) wanted complete exemption from military service for all men of military age. The Rußländer committee, called the Military Problems Committee of Western Canada, was willing to offer to the government that their young men would do some form of alternative service, or even serve in the noncombatant medical corps of the army.

Since the 1970s the meaning of the term Kanadier has shifted, especially within  the Mennonite Central Committee Canada. It is now used to refer to only a portion of the descendents of the 1870s immigration, namely those who are "conservers" (e.g., Old Colony Mennonites and Sommerfeld Mennonites). It includes the "conserver" Kanadier descendants in Canada, and also those who have immigrated to Mexico, Belize, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. MCC Canada has formed a Kanadier Mennonite Colonization Committee to provide services for these groups. One of the services is the paper, Die Mennonitische Post.

See also Conservative Mennonites (Dutch-Prussian-Russian).


Epp, Frank H. Mennonites in Canada, 1920-1940: A People's Struggle for Survival. Toronto: Macmillan, 1982: 242-245, 416-417.

Author(s) John J Friesen
Date Published 1990

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, John J. "Kanadier." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 28 Sep 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kanadier&oldid=141181.

APA style

Friesen, John J. (1990). Kanadier. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 September 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kanadier&oldid=141181.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 475. All rights reserved.

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