Toews, Anna B. (1868-1933)

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Anna B. Toews, Mennonite pioneer midwife, was born on 30 August 1868 in the village of Grünfeld, Borosenko Colony, South Russia. She was the second of nine children born to Cornelius P. Toews (1836-1908) and his second wife Anna Bartel (1838-1918). On 25 December 1886 Anna married Peter B. "Grouta" Toews (1859-1945), a widower with one daughter. Together Anna and Peter had 11 children--six sons and five daughters. Anna died on 26 January 1933 in Ste. Anne, Manitoba.

As a six-year-old child, Anna immigrated with her parents to Canada where they settled on the East Reserve in Manitoba. Her father had been one of the Mennonite delegates for the Kleine Gemeinde elected to investigate the possibility of migrating to Canada from Russia. Initially Anna and her husband Peter B. Toews lived in Blumenort, Manitoba where her husband operated his father’s sawmill. In 1890 they moved to Greenland, Manitoba where they farmed and ran a steam threshing outfit for about 20 years. In 1911 Anna and his husband purchased land in Needles, British Columbia where along with other Mennonite families they hoped to start a new Mennonite settlement. Unfortunately the land they had purchased turned out to be completely worthless. Finding themselves destitute they were more than grateful to the old English couple who took them in. With the last of their money they returned to Ste. Anne where they bought a farm near their children.

In addition to being a farmer’s wife with a large family, Anna was one of a specialized group of women who also managed a busy career outside the home as a midwife. She had been one of three Kleine Gemeinde women, including Aganetha Barkman Reimer and Margaretha Toews, who had volunteered to take a three week midwifery course, as there were so few doctors in the area to help women during their deliveries. With her capable stepdaughter to help at home, Anna served her community as a midwife for 26 years. During that time she delivered almost 1,000 babies. This remarkable woman was rarely paid for her services. Being a woman of strong faith she felt it a privilege to help bring new life into this world and believed that God had called her to this work.


Barkman, Cathy. "Anna Toews (1868-1933): Midwife." Preservings No. 10 Part II (June 1997): 50-53.

Loewen, Royden. "Toews, Anna (Toews)." Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XVI (1931-1940). 2014. Web. 27 November 2017.

Author(s) Sharon H. H Brown
Date Published November 2017

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MLA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. "Toews, Anna B. (1868-1933)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2017. Web. 23 Mar 2018.,_Anna_B._(1868-1933)&oldid=155837.

APA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. (November 2017). Toews, Anna B. (1868-1933). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 March 2018, from,_Anna_B._(1868-1933)&oldid=155837.

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