Mennonite Women in Canada

A History

Marlene Epp (Author)

Mennonite Women in Canada traces the complex social history and multiple identities of Canadian Mennonite women over 200 years. Marlene Epp explores women’s roles, as prescribed and as lived, within the contexts of immigration and settlement, household and family, church and organizational life, work and education, and in response to social trends and events. The combined histories of Mennonite women offer a rich and fascinating study of how women actively participate in ordering their lives within ethno-religious communities.


“Epp’s liberal use of moving personal stories and effective analysis illuminates the fascinating, painful, inspiring, and even contradictory lives of women who have negotiated, resented, modified, or openly resisted the patriarchal underpinnings of their ethno-religious group.”

– Franca Iacovetta, University of Toronto, author of Gatekeepers: Reshaping Immigrant Lives in Cold War Canada

“This is an impressive book that breaks new ground in Mennonite history by demonstrating how women’s situations were so varied that the ideals of women’s behaviour did not always match the realities of women’s lived experiences.”

– Rachel Waltner Goossen, Washburn University, author of Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941–47

“Ultimately, Epp has done an important service by broadening Canadian Mennonite historiography and treatment of gender beyond localized studies to a national treatment that simultaneously brings to light a plethora of primary and archival sources. She balances historical detail with broader interpretations with seeming ease and in persuasive prose. Throughout she presents the experiences of women as diverse, heterodox, and embodying myriad perspectives, actions, and responses to their varied contexts.”

– Brian Froese, Canadian Mennonite University, The Conrad Grebel Review

“Marlene’s Epp’s lyrical narrative captures her readers from her first words and carries them gently and swiftly through to her final chapter. Epp’s inclusive vision invigorates Mennonite history, Canadian immigration history and the histories of women in religion…her explanations and guidance adroitly maneuver her readers into new streams of understandings and analysis … She presents a masterful synthesis of Mennonite women’s history in Canada.”

– Kimberly D. Schmidt, Eastern Mennonite University, The Mennonite Quarterly Review

“Epp’s study provides a wealth of material for historians of Great Plains women, immigrants, and religious minorities…Her rich evidence and insightful analysis remind the reader that ethinicity, religion, and cultural history played important roles in women’s reaction to the Great Plains.”

– Katherine Jellison, Department of History, Ohio University

“A fascinating work based on a vast amount of primary materials.”

– G.D. Homan, emeritus, Illinois State University, Choice Magazine, November 2009

“This groundbreaking book offers a fresh look at the contributions Canadian Mennonite women have made to church and society.”

– Mennonite Weekly Review, April 13, 2009

“Epp’s immersion in myriad sources and her keen analysis make this a major contribution to Canadian historical study. The book’s prose is clear and engaging.”

– Globe and Mail, March 7, 2009

“Mennonite Women in Canada is a highly readable and engaging book. Despite the magnitude of the topic, individual voices are clearly heard, voices we are not accustomed to hearing in a such a genre.”

– Rhubarb Magazine, Spring 2009

“This brief review cannot begin to mention the many stories, ideas, sources, and aspects of the female Mennonite’s life Epp gathers into this text. Her work is necessarily an overview, but rich in detail and highly interesting, likely to provoke further curiosity, and probably arguments as well. … This is a significant addition to the Mennonite history shelf.”

– Mennonite Brethren Herald, Dec. 2008

“A comprehensive account of how Mennonite women functioned in this culture over the past two centuries.”

– Winnipeg Free Press, Nov. 23, 2008

About the Author

Marlene Epp teaches history and peace and conflict studies at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of Women without Men: Mennonite Refugees of the Second World War and co-editor with Franca Iacoveta and Frances Swyripa of Sisters or Strangers? Immigrant, Ethnic, and Racialized Women in Canadian History.

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