Submitted. Many Mennonite women from across the Fraser Valley will recall and/or recognize themselves or a family member, as a maid serving in Vancouver in the early 1930’s to 1961. The history buffs at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford and author, Ruth Derksen Siemens are thrilled to share some of that remarkable history through a Daughters in The City Reading, Conversation & Tea on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 2pm at The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way, Abbotsford.
Derksen Siemens, a first-generation Canadian of Russian Mennonite descent, will present a pictorial story from her book Daughters in the City: Mennonite Maids in Vancouver 1931-61 and engage guests in a casual conversation. She will relay how in the early 1930s, young Mennonite women—mostly adolescents—began to arrive in Vancouver, seeking work as domestic servants. Most had recently arrived as refugees from Russia, having escaped the terror of Stalin’s regime. Their desperate families owed a substantial debt to the Canadian Pacific Railway for their journey.
“My book chronicles the remarkable stories of these young women and the hundreds who followed them in the next three decades. I assembled the history of two Girls’ Homes (Mädchenheimes) established to support and protect the working girls, from archival records, interviews and historic photos,” explains Derksen Siemens.
These indomitable young single women were pioneers of their community: they broke through the barriers of the “evil city,” the English language and the upper-class British culture. Significantly, they shaped the settlement patterns of not only Vancouver but also western Canada. This book pays tribute to their impact and their long-lasting legacy.
Ruth Derksen Siemens also instructs Rhetoric and Writing at UBC, is author of Remember Us – Letters from Stalin’s Gulag (1930-37) and co-executive producer of the video Through The Red Gate.
To purchase your $5 advance ticket to Daughters in The City Reading, Conversation & Tea on March 1st at The Reach go to: www.thereach.ca; call: 604-864-8087 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your ticket includes admission, Mennonite sweet treats and a $2.50 credit towards the purchase of Daughters in the City book on March 1 only.