William Hespeler (1830-1921) was a Lutheran, born in Baden-Baden, Germany, and trained in the Polytechnic Institute in Karlsruhe. In 1850 he immigrated to Preston, Waterloo County, ON, where he joined his brother in business. He became Commissioner of Immigration and Agriculture in Winnipeg (1873-83) and later acted as Consul of the German Empire for Manitoba and the northwest Mennonites (1883-1909). While visiting in Germany in 1872 he learned that large numbers of Mennonites living in southern Russia were considering immigration to North America. Soon after he had reported this to the Canadian officials, they authorized him as a Special Emigration Agent to proceed to Russia, there to assure the Mennonites of a welcome in Canada. After visiting some of the Mennonite settlements his purposes were suspected by the Russian government and he was forced to leave that country. At this point, according to C. Henry Smith, at a meeting in November 1872 at Odessa "with the Bergthal and Molotschna representatives he suggested that they appoint a delegation of competent men to investigate the lands in Canada... The advice was followed the next year. From this time on Hespeler was the representative of the Canadian government in everything that was connected with the immigration of the Russian Mennonites to Canada and their settlement upon their chosen lands." In the Public Archives of Canada there are still a large number of reports, letters, and telegrams by Hespler concerning the Mennonite immigration.
Smith, C. Henry. The Coming of the Russian Mennonites. Berne, IN, 1927: 49-50.
Correll, E. H. "Mennonite Immigration into Manitoba, Sources and Documents." Mennonite Quarterly Review 11 (1937): 196-227, 267-83; 22 (1948): 43-57.
Cite This Article
Gingerich, Melvin. "Hespeler, William (1830-1921)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 25 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hespeler,_William_(1830-1921)&oldid=88030.
Gingerich, Melvin. (1956). Hespeler, William (1830-1921). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hespeler,_William_(1830-1921)&oldid=88030.
Herald Press website.
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