Mennonite Homestead Files

About the Project

When Mennonites began arriving in Manitoba between 1874 and 1880, each head of household applied for a homestead. These homestead records provide an unparalleled window into the early years of Mennonite settlement. They include application forms, correspondence, naturalization papers, records of people, buildings, animals, implements, land broken, crops harvested, and more.

Both the government and Mennonite-produced sets of records are rare; the originals of the homestead files have been destroyed, leaving only microfilm copies available. The originals of the Mennonite-produced records migrated with the Old Colony Church to Mexico in 1922.

In 2015 the Plett Foundation awarded the Mennonite Heritage Archives and WestMenn Committee of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society $6,355. The grant supported the digitization of the Manitoba homestead files related to the lands within the East and West Reserves.

This digitization project, facilitated by the Mennonite Heritage Archives, made these rare records accessible to the public and ensured the long-term preservation of rich historical resources. 

Also included in this project is the digitizing of documents produced internally by Mennonites, including a registry of members and census materials, among other records.

The files are available at the Mennonite Heritage Archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and at the Winkler Heritage Society in Winkler, Manitoba.

About the Society

We seek to foster an understanding of and respect for the history and beliefs of the Mennonite people in the past and present, and to challenge them to give new expression to this heritage in the future.