Mysteries of the Mennonite Invalid Home Yearbook

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I love the book sales at Clearspring Centre. I also love digging around in the books at the MCC. I’ve found a lot of different yearbooks for churches and schools and some local companies publish celebratory booklets to mark another quarter-century or so. But the book I’m staring at right now strikes me as being a bit… stranger.

It’s a faded green, and in black lettering, simply says “MENNONITE INVALID HOME – 1958”.

I bought the book because it’s weird, and I’m curious.

First of all, where was the Mennonite Invalid Home located?

It was definitely in Steinbach. But where?

The first thought in my mind is that maybe it was located at 255 Hanover. I mean, on the Steinbach Heritage Walking Tour map, it says that 255 was “briefly used as a nurse’s residence for the nursing home next door”. Does it mean the Mennonite Invalid Home?

These are my first thoughts, before even opening up the book. Inside, there is a photo of the home, and I imagine I see the roof of 255, but I can’t be sure. I’m likely wrong. However, the next page depicts a house number: 261. Does this indicate that I’m right about the Hanover Street location? 

There are plenty of sponsored greetings printed in the book. For example, “To the directors, staff, and patients of the E. M. Church Invalid Home, we say a hearty thank-you for your services. May we also encourage you with Galatians 6:9”

Some observations:

The greeting from Prairie Rose is entirely in German. (Presumably Plautdietsch.)

Is it just me, or does it seem kind of invasive to publish photos of people who are sick in bed?

Women who were married were identified by their husband’s initials and last name, with a “Mrs.” thrown in front. Women who remained single have the benefit of being identified by their own first and last names.

Some men were called “Mr.” but others were not. How did they decide who was a mister and who was not?

Depictions of patient activities includes checking the temperature and knitting.

A photograph of the Gus Toews family seems to display the balcony of 255 in the background.

A profile of Sarah Unger states, “Although quiet by nature, she keeps her room-mates entertained with her amusing nightmares.”

Adeline Barkman’s profile coyly suggests that she “blushes when a certain subject is discussed”.

And Marie Plett’s profile points out that she enjoys eating, “and of late, calorie-counting”.

Some profiles point out that some of these people are faithful Christians. (Only some, though!)

We then are taken through the various daily routines of the nurses, cleaning girls, kitchen staff, and laundry. Followed by staff activities and a list of patients.

And, at the very end, several pages of greetings: “compliments to the Invalid Home, from… (fill in the blank)”. I’m most curious about the greeting from A.K. Penner & Sons, which says… “Congratulations”.