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Bethesda Home for the mentally ill (1939–1985)

Proper Title

Canadian Conference of MB Churches Bethesda Home for the mentally ill series

Dates of Creation

1939–1981

Physical Description

56 cm of textual records

Administrative History

Maria and Henry Wiebe founded Bethesda Home in 1938 in Vineland, Ontario. In 1934 they had been approached by some of the church leaders in Kitchener to take on a “patient” on their farm in Stratford. Both had had experience working with mentally handicapped people at Bethania, in the Chortitza Colony, Russia, she as a psychiatric nurse and he in management. As more individuals needed assistance they needed to expand their farm home. Since it was more feasible to purchase a larger property they did so near Vineland in 1937. They carried on with the help of neighbours, church volunteers, and a few staff. The patient numbers kept growing. In 1944 the Ontario Conference took over ownership of the home and the following year, 1945, received their first reports from the Home at its annual convention.

In 1947 the ownership and management of the Home were transferred to the Canadian Conference. In 1951 the Wiebe family, founders of the Home, beginning in 1934, retired. In 1959 the Home began receiving financial support from the Ontario government. The first nursing supervisor with psychiatric training was hired in 1956, Gertrude Harder, and the first male nurse supervisor, Jacob Penner, with this training in 1957. The facilities continued to expand and more farmland was purchased. In the 1970s the emphasis shifted from treating the mentally ill to the mentally retarded. In 1973 the farm was sold. In 1975 a therapeutic pool was added. In 1983 the ownership was transferred back to the Ontario Conference after a transition period from 1977. Since 1983 the delivery of service has changed dramatically with the opening of homes to serve small numbers of individuals. The original facility is still being used but for far fewer individuals than at its peak.

Scope and Content

This series consists of thirteen sub-series including: business plans (1939–1945), bylaws (1949–1950), land title deeds (1948–1979), minutes of the Ontario Conference (1939–1947), Canadian Conference Bethesda Committee meetings and Canadian Conference Bethesda Executive Committee meetings (1950–1973), and Canadian Conference Board of Management meetings concerning Bethesda (1976–1980), staff reports (1945–1979), financial reports (1950–1981), other administrative and committee reports (1956–1981), correspondence (1945–1979), newsletters (1954–1973), programmes (1956–1960), brochures, assorted publicity and administrative material, and handbooks (1967–1974), and a 50th anniversary book (1988). These document the founding and development of Bethesda Home as a home for mentally ill and then a change of emphasis to mentally retarded. This is part of the Board of Management series but classified separately.

Custodial History

Records were transferred to the Centre for MB Studies archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba on a regular basis.

Notes

  • Volumes 51–52.
  • Finding aid consists of a file list.
  • Finding aid: The records are classified under the Canadian Conference of MB Churches inventory B233.
  • Described by Bert Friesen October 28, 2002.
  • No restrictions on access.

File List

Volume 51

  1. Ontario conference Bethesda committee meeting minutes, business plan (1939), conditional plan (1945), Ontario conference financial statement (1945), reports, correspondence, bylaws of Bethesda (1949). -- 1939–1949.
  2. Bethesda director’s reports, correspondence, financial reports, Canadian conference Bethesda committee meeting minutes, Canadian conference bylaw resolution, Bethesda bylaws (1950), Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes. -- 1950.
  3. Bethesda correspondence, Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, Bethesda committee meeting minutes, financial reports, director’s reports, disposition of Peter Dueck’s estate. -- 1951–1952.
  4. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, financial reports, disposition of Peter Dueck’s estate, Bethesda committee meeting minutes, reports. -- 1952–1953.
  5. Bethesda committee meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, financial reports, Bethesda newsletter, Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes. -- 1954–1955.
  6. Bethesda committee meeting minutes, correspondence, financial reports, programme for expansion dedication, annual reports, inspector’s reports, executive committee meeting minutes. -- 1956–1958.
  7. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, correspondence, dedication service of new buildings. -- 1959–1960.
  8. Canadian conference executive committee meeting minutes (concerning Bethesda), correspondence, Bethesda committee meeting minutes, annual reports. -- 1961–1965.
  9. Bethesda reports concerning expansion, bylaws ([196-?]), newspaper clipping (1975). -- 1967–1975.
  10. Bethesda reports, executive committee meeting minutes, brochures, volunteer handbook, financial reports. -- 1967–1968.
  11. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, financial reports, staff reports, Bethesda committee meeting minutes, brochures, financial statements, correspondence. -- 1966–1967.
  12. Bethesda committee meeting minutes, staff reports, financial reports, executive committee meeting minutes, correspondence, financial statements. -- 1967–1968.
  13. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, staff reports, financial statements and reports, employee handbook. -- 1968–1969.
  14. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, staff reports, financial reports, financial statements. -- 1969–1970.
  15. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, financial reports, financial statements, newsletters. -- 1970–1971.
  16. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, staff reports, newsletters, financial reports, financial statements, schematic building plans, brochures. -- 1971–1972.
  17. Bethesda executive committee meeting minutes, staff reports, financial reports, newsletters, correspondence, financial statements. -- 1973.
  18. Bethesda correspondence, Canadian conference board of management meeting minutes, transfer of ownership study (1976), staff reports, financial reports, board of management reports. -- 1976–1979.

 Volume 52

  1. Bethesda financial reports, financial statements. -- 1969.
  2. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1970.
  3. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1971.
  4. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1972.
  5. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1973.
  6. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1974.
  7. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1975.
  8. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1976.
  9. Bethesda financial statements, Canadian conference board of management study commission meeting minutes, correspondence. -- 1977–1978.
  10. Bethesda financial statements, financial reports. -- 1979.
  11. Bethesda reports to the board of management, board minutes. -- 1980.
  12. Bethesda staff and board reports to provincial and Canadian conference conventions, financial statements. -- 1981.
  13. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1982.
  14. Bethesda financial statements. -- 1983.
  15. Bethesda land title deeds for Bethesda.-- 1948–1979.
  16. Bethesda organizational structure, employee handbook, bylaws. -- 1965–1966.
  17. Bethesda blank forms for admission, volunteers, and others, regulations. -- [196-?].
  18. Mennonite Homes and Hospitals reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, financial statements. -- 1968–1973.
  19. Paper on services for the retarded (1973), programmes and activities (1973), personnel management (1973), healing dimensions of the Christian witness (1973), Mennonite chaplain’s association meeting minutes (1969), correspondence, brochures. -- 1969–1973.
  20. Bethesda library committee meeting minutes. -- 1967.
  21. Bethesda newsletters. -- 1966–1972.
  22. Bethesda chapel bulletins. -- 1966–1968.
  23. Bethesda chapel bulletins. -- 1969–1973.
  24. Bethesda brochures, a brief Bethesda Home history (1972), a brief published history in the Mennonitische Rundschau (1974), aerial photograph [10 X 5 cm], bylaws [19-?], employee handbook [19-?], newsletter (1954), report [19-?]. -- [19-?]–1974.
  25. Bethesda Home 50th anniversary book. -- 1988.
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