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Harder, John A. (1897–1964)

Proper Title

John A. Harder fonds

Dates of Creation


Physical Description

1 folder of textual records

Biographical Sketch

John A. Harder was born in 1897, in Rosenort, south Russia and moved to the Crimea with his family for a few years, returning after the Russo-Japanese War to South Russia where his parents fulfilled a long-standing urge to build an orphanage for Mennonite children. This work of faith was built in Grossweide. It was here that John received his early education, but his efforts to study medicine were frustrated by the outbreak of the First World War.

The ensuing years brought great dangers to the family at the hands of the revolutionaries. Mr. Harder stated that these early years at the orphanage were a great blessing to him personally. He enjoyed growing up with so many other young people and witnessed God’s providence time and again; especially when the Bolshevik government began persecuting Christians. Religious instruction at the orphanage had to stop, and the years of starvation began at this time. The Lord helped wonderfully so that none of the children at the orphanage died.

In 1917, Mr. Harder accepted Christ as his Savior and joined the Church in 1919. He was married in 1922, and together with his wife had three sons and three daughters. At this time he also assumed the full responsibility of the orphanage, which was under constant surveillance and harassment by the authorities. Getting provisions for the institution was dangerous because they had to be taken across the Red Front. Under this constant stress he contracted a nervous asthma. In 1922, it was impossible to continue, and the family tried to emigrate to Canada with the entire orphanage, but this was disallowed.

In 1924, the Harders emigrated to Canada alone and eventually settled in Yarrow, BC, in 1930. Mr. Harder was ordained to the ministry and served the Yarrow MB Church for 18 years as leader, and the Black Creek Church for three years.

The family then lived in semi-retirement in Clearbrook, but Rev. Harder was pleased to be able to continue to serve in the preaching ministry and on various conference committees such as the Board of Foreign Missions on which he had served for many years. He served publicly in his home church on March 8, officiating at a funeral on March 9, but became ill shortly thereafter and was admitted to the hospital. He died on March 22, 1964.

Custodial History

This material was written by John Harder. It is unclear if it was written in German and then translated or written originally in English. Who donated the material and when is unclear.

Scope and Content

The material in this collection contains one item. It is a copy and of Harder’s account of being arrested, interrogated and deemed guilty of spying in August 1920. He was led away to be disposed of when riders came and gave new orders to turn around and report to the officer in charge.


  • Volume 965.
  • Described by Conrad Stoesz December 3, 1999.
  • Accession nos.
  • Related material:
    •   Abram A. Harder fonds.

File List

Volume 965

1. J.A. Harder, “I Was Lead Away To Be Shot.” – [195-?].

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