Address: 31 Pickwick Drive, Leamington, Ontario, Canada N8H 4T5
Telephone: (519) 322-0456
Hours of operation: Open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 12 noon.
The Mennonites in Essex and Kent Counties have had a strong historical awareness ever since their arrival in 1925. A joint history committee was established by the Leamington United Mennonite Church and the North Leamington United Mennonite Church in the early 1970s to preserve their history. The committee published a picture of the church family in 1984 and became actively involved in organizing programs and preserving artifacts.
In the mid-eighties, the members of the joint history committee felt a need to expand its horizons so that all Mennonites of the two counties would be represented and therefore established the Essex Kent Mennonite Historical Association (EKMHA). It became incorporated May 1, 1987 and was licensed to issue tax receipts for charitable donations. The Association is operated by a Board of Directors comprised of thirteen individuals, making it possible to have representation from a number of churches.
The Board of Directors immediately started to plan for the establishment of a permanent Archives and Heritage Centre. Those dreams were realized in the spring of 1992, when the EKMHA entered into an agreement with the Leamington Mennonite Home and Apartments to purchase 950 square feet of space for $80,000 on a life lease basis. The Heritage Centre was established on the second floor of the Heritage Gardens Apartments at 31 Pickwick Drive in Leamington.
Today the Heritage Centre contains many artifacts which include photographs, documents, books, magazines, journals, and many personal and household items. As well, the Centre contains a collection of videos, slide presentations, and booklets that have been produced locally. It is staffed by volunteers and is open year round on a half time basis. In the past, the Canada Employment Centre has provided funding to employ a student for the summer months to assist in research and archival work.
In addition to operating the Heritage Centre, the EKMHA has sponsored programs, conducted bus tours, and hosted an annual fund raising dinner. The Historical Association maintains an active membership of about 150 individuals each year, representing most of the Mennonite churches in Essex and Kent. Memberships are available for ten dollars per person or twenty dollars per couple on a yearly basis.
It is through the efforts of the many hard working volunteers and God’s guidance that the Association has gained a high level of visibility in its role of preserving history in the local Mennonite Communities.