Sukkau, Henry Gerhardt (1904–1987)

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Henry and Anna Sukkau

Henry Gerhardt Sukkau: farmer and electrician; born 20 February 1904 in Talma, Village #3, Terek Mennonite settlement, Russia to Gerhardt Sukkau (1874-1939) and Elizabeth (Hiebert) Sukkau (1873-1964). He was the third child of two sons and four daughters. In 1924 he married Anna Toews (21 November 1904, Terek settlement, Russia – 29 December 1998, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). They had three sons and four daughters, with one son dying in infancy. Henry died 9 March 1984 in Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

Despite Russia’s political upheavals, both Henry and Anna were able to complete their secondary education. The Sukkaus were married in September 1924, and in 1925 immigrated to Canada, arriving in Acme, Alberta on 11 September. One year later they moved to the Peace River district and took up a homestead near Wembley.

The Sukkaus were active members of the La Glace Mennonite Brethren Church; Henry assisted in its construction in 1927. He and his brother-in-law purchased farm equipment permitting them to do custom work. Farm life was a challenge during the economic depression and Henry, after studying English, took an electrician’s course by correspondence.

In 1932 the Sukkaus sold their property and moved to Yarrow BC. When electric power came to Yarrow in 1934, Henry started a business and began to wire the community’s houses. By 1936 his electrical business had expanded to include a general store and an automotive service garage.

Sukkau was fascinated by and involved in all levels of politics. He was elected chairman of the village of Yarrow in 1937. Henry felt that Yarrow needed a good water supply, and even when he discovered two large creeks on Vedder Mountain in 1942, it still took two years to convince the residents of this need. In 1944 a delegation (Sukkau plus two others) traveled to Victoria to meet with the province’s water rights commissioner. They were granted authorization to organize the Yarrow Waterworks District. The Yarrow Waterworks Board became the local governing body and Sukkau served as its chairman or vice-chairman from 1944 to 1958. When he was appointed to take charge of roads in 1946, streetlights were installed, sidewalks were built on Central Road and street signs and speed limits were posted.

Sukkau was often the liaison between the German speaking Mennonites and the English-speaking world outside of Yarrow. During World War II he was appointed chief of the Air Raid Defense Unit for the Yarrow district. He was active in the Liberal Party, becoming friends with MP George Cruickshank.

In spring of 1948, much of the Fraser Valley including Yarrow braced for possible flooding. Sukkau was named second in command to the Chilliwack Reeve. Reserve units patrolled Yarrow’s dykes, but one night Sukkau found the military patrol asleep. Yarrow’s own patrol was quickly reinstated. Since only a direct order from Ottawa could get extra help, Sukkau phoned Cruikshand, and within two days, 200 men were flown from Saskatchewan. With the extra help and equipment, the dyke held and Yarrow did not flood.

In 1950, Sukkau was appointed as chairman of the volunteer fire committee. He was named to the Municipal Dyking Committee in 1951 and from 1953, sat on the Chilliwack District Town Planning Commission as Yarrow’s representative.

In 1960, Sukkau purchased three quarters of land including his former homestead and moved back to Alberta to farm. Here, still serving others, he obtained and sold Mennonite Fire Insurance on a voluntary basis.

After selling their farm in 1980, the Sukkaus moved to Salmon Arm. They moved to Evergreen Village in Clearbrook two years later, becoming members of the Clearbrook Mennonite Brethren Church. On 9 March 1987 Henry died as a result of a traffic accident. Anna remained in Clearbrook and died in 1998.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2009: #77736.

Martens, Robert, Maryann Jantzen, and Harvey Neufeldt, eds. Windows to a village: life studies of Yarrow pioneers. Kitchener, ON: Pandora Press, 2007.

Author(s) Alvina Charlton
Date Published January 2009

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MLA style

Charlton, Alvina. "Sukkau, Henry Gerhardt (1904–1987)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2009. Web. 23 Sep 2018.,_Henry_Gerhardt_(1904%E2%80%931987)&oldid=132639.

APA style

Charlton, Alvina. (January 2009). Sukkau, Henry Gerhardt (1904–1987). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 September 2018, from,_Henry_Gerhardt_(1904%E2%80%931987)&oldid=132639.

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