Hiebert, Brown Family

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Hiebert, Brown Family

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Dates of existence

1837-2013

History

Erdman Penner (1837-1907) and Maria (Van) Eitzen (1840-1900) arrived on the International, the first boat of Mennonite immigrants to southern Manitoba, on July 3, 1874. They came from the Chortitza village of the Bergthal colony in southern Russia. Erdman started a merchandise business and opened a rafting supplies store along the railway line that was passing through Gretna. He became mayor of Gretna in (). The family spent winters in Winnipeg. In 1874, their daughter Helena Penner was born.

In the 1880s, the family moved to Mountain Lake, Minnesota where Helena continued her schooling. Helena, or Helen as she was also known, attended the University of Manitoba and became the first Mennonite woman to graduate from this institution when she did so in 1899. Helen also organized the Modern Language Club (the University Women’s Club) at the University of Manitoba. She is also known as the author of “Granny stories” – a memoir of Mennonite life on the prairies. Helen married Gerhard Hiebert in 1902 and settled in Winnipeg. They had three daughters: Helen Elfriede (Di) Allen (1908-1982), Gerda Louise Riddoch (1910-1980), and Catherine Elizabeth Brown (1918-2013). Helen Hiebert passed away in 1970.

Helen's husband, Gerhard Hiebert (1868-1934), was a prominent Winnipeg surgeon who became chief surgeon at the Winnipeg General Hospital (1917-1919). Gerhard’s parents were also Mennonites from southern Russia who took the Kenilworth ship from Antwerp and arrived in New York on July 17, 1876. They came from Berjansk village near Chortitza village and settled in Mountain Lake, Minnesota.

Gerda Riddoch received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire O.B.E. from the Queen of England in 1970.

Catherine Brown graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.Sc. in 1938. She often travelled to England to visit her sister Elfriede (Di) and her husband John Frank Allen. Catherine was accepted by St. Thomas Hospital in England to study physiotherapy. During the Second World War she returned to Canada and married her husband, Edward C. Brown. Catherine and Edward had three children: Shirley, Peter, and Kenneth. In 2005 Catherine Brown established the Dr. Gerhard Hiebert Memorial Bursary Fund, in memory of her father, at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

Edward Brown’s grandfather was the Hon. Edward Brown, provincial treasurer of Manitoba (1915-1917). Edward’s father, Wallace E. Brown, was an original grain merchant for Richardson and Sons, Ltd. from the 1920s to 1960.

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