Memorable Manitobans: Gerhard Ens (1922-2011)
Born at Gnadenthal, Russia (now Ukraine) on 4 August 1922, eldest son of Gerhard G. H. Ens and Helena Sawatzky, the family emigrated to Canada in 1923 and settled on a farm at Reinland, Manitoba. He attended Reinland School, Gnadenthal School, and the Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI). He spent one year at the Central Normal School then, in 1942, he began teaching at Gnadenthal School. During the Second World War, with conscientious objector status, he served in a mental hospital at Portage la Prairie. In 1946, he became a teacher at the MCI where he would remain for the next 30 years, teaching German, history, and religion. During summers, he did course work eventually leading to BA and BEd degrees from the University of Manitoba. He served as the Principal of MCI from 1967 to 1976, retiring in the latter year and moving to Winnipeg.
In August 1950, he married Anni Niebuhr and they had five children: Helen Ens, Anne Ens, Gerhard J. Ens, Werner Ens, and Waldy Ens. He was a founding member of the Mennonite Historical Society in 1957, which established the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum. He served on the museum board for 50 years and served as its President until 1997. From 1974 to 2005, he produced a weekly radio broadcast in Low German on topics related to Mennonite history. In 1958, he became a minister for the Blumenorter Mennonite Church. He served as Secretary of the Manitoba Conference of Mennonites, and served on its education committee, writing German Sunday School lessons used in churches throughout North America. From 1976 to 1990, he was the editor of the German-language newspaper, Der Bote.
He died at Winnipeg on 13 February 2011.
“Die Schule Muss Sein,” A History of the Mennonite Collegiate Institute by Gerhard J. Ens, Gretna: Mennonite Collegiate Institute, 1990.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 2011.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 6 April 2013
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