Memorable Manitobans: Vera Kathrin Suderman Fast (1929-2023)
Born at the St. Boniface Hospital on 15 September 1929, daughter of Jacob and Margaret Suderman, she attended Vincent Massey Collegiate and the Grace Bible Institute (Omaha, Nebraska). She then worked as a teacher in the Ozarks, a Hutterite colony, and in rural schools. She returned to Winnipeg and received a teaching permit from United College, also meeting fellow student Peter Fast (?-2021). They married on 14 July 1956 at Bethel Mennonite Church.
In 1956, she moved with her husband to northern Manitoba and taught with him for two years at Loon Straits School (1956-1958). They returned to Winnipeg in 1958 where their first child was born. After moving to a seminary at Elkhart, Indiana, their second child was born there in 1960. Additional studies took place at Princeton University. In 1962, the family did mission work in Indonesia and returned to Canada in 1965. Peter Fast pursued postgraduate studies at Toronto then accepted a teaching position at the Canadian Mennonite Bible College (today, Canadian Mennonite University) in 1966. She attended the University of Manitoba, receiving a BA degree in History (1978) and a Masters degree in History (1979) which led to her first book, Missionary on Wheels. She completed a doctoral degree under the supervision of William Lewis Morton (1984). Her dissertation was entitled “The Protestant Missionary and Fur Trade Society: Initial Contact in the Hudson’s Bay Territory, 1820-1850”.
As a research fellow at St. John's College, she co-wrote Planting the Garden with Mary Kinnear (1987). She then became an archivist at the Archives of Manitoba, sourcing and cataloguing documents until retirement in 1994. She wrote Companions of the Peace: The Letters and Diaries of Monica Storrs (1999) and Children's Exodus (2011).
She died at Winnipeg on 7 February 2023.
Obituary [Peter Fast], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 June 2021.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 11 February 2023.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 11 February 2023