Winnipeg, German Immigrants, and the McDermot Avenue Baptist Church, 1881-1910

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer. I am eager for fall and writing cozily in the room I have set up in my new home for reading and genealogy projects (writing my book and scanning photos!). I salvaged all the different iterations of this entry that I started and stopped writing in the last year. This is a very straightforward and condensed history of Germans in Winnipeg, as well as a short history of the McDermot Avenue Baptist Church, which was an important location in Kirsch (and Kelm) family history. This section should be read in conjunction with this entry about Julia Kirsch, my great-grandmother Martha’s oldest sister who migrated to Winnipeg during a period of Baptist persecution in Volhynia and whose home became a launching pad for many of her siblings who would also immigrate within the next twenty-two years. You can find their stories here.

By the time August and Julia Rempel arrived in Winnipeg in 1890, the population of the city was approximately 23,000.[1] They arrived at a time of rapid growth; Canada was actively recruiting immigrants, namely those from western and northern Europe. In the autumn of 1881, The Great Prairie Province of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories was issued in England to attract potential settlers and, by 1884, additional pamphlets and maps were published in other languages and distributed.[2] The population of Winnipeg’s North End, where the Rempel family lived, was 7,819 in 1890; by 1906, it had more than quintupled to 43,527.[3]

Many of these newcomers were of German descent. These Germans were from many places other than Germany, including Eastern Canada, United States, Romania, and Austria-Hungary. Germans from Russia (Volhynia, Black Sea, and Volga), however, represented the largest percentage at 44 percent.[4] According to the 1891 Census of Canada, there were 399 Germans living in Winnipeg.[5] The total number, however, was much greater as the census only recorded place of birth and not ethnicity. Because August and Julia Rempel were both born in Poland, for example, they are recorded in the 1891 Census as being from “Russia Poland.”[6] The 1901 Census of Canada did not distinguish between Germans born in Germany and Germans from elsewhere and recorded 2,285.[7]

In 1885, the Baptist church became concerned with evangelizing the swelling German population in Winnipeg and appealed to the Baptist Conference of the USA (North American Baptist Conference) for help. The following year, the conference enlisted thirty-six-year-old Reverend Friedrich August Petereit (who had been stationed in Minneapolis, Minnesota), the first German pastor of any denomination to administer in Winnipeg.[8] Reverend Petereit preached his first Winnipeg sermon in the city’s old immigration hall, in the mid-February cold: “Last evening[, Reverend Petereit] conducted services again at the immigration sheds where there was also a good attendance. This evening and tomorrow evening the [Reverend] will preach in the Baptist Church, where all Germans will be cordially welcomed.” [9] By April, Reverend Petereit had begun preaching a series of sermons “in the interest of the Germans in the city,” his efforts extending to Dakota Territory where Germans there also relished “this opportunity of hearing the Gospel proclaimed in their own tongue.”[10]

“McDermot Avenue Baptist Church,” undated, from Archives of Manitoba, George Harris Fonds, accessed 26 Aug 2022 through Manitoba Historical Society,

On December 31, 1889, a modest congregation of seventy people proclaimed themselves Erste Deutsche Baptistengemeinde, or The First German Baptist Church: “The founding meeting on the last day of the year closed with singing and prayer and a love feast lasting until the first hours of the new year.”[11] The first church was built on the corner of Alexander Avenue and Fountain Street, not far from the immigration sheds by the Canadian Pacific Railway yards preached in just three years before. This new church was operational by January of 1891, a few months after the Rempels’ arrival. The Rempel family and the twenty-four others also from Ludwischin-Scheppel were among the first wave of German Baptists from Volhynia that settled in Western Canada from 1890 until 1900.[12]

The congregation grew and a new church was built a block away, on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Ellen Street, in 1901.[13] By the time Martha Kirsch arrived in Winnipeg to join her sister Julia in September 1908, the congregation, which now numbered approximately 200 members, had constructed an even larger church on McDermot Avenue and Tecumseh Street,[14] around the corner from where the Rempel family lived at 814 Bannatyne Avenue. The new church was dedicated on February 9, 1908, and was renamed the McDermot Avenue Baptist Church.[15]

Martha married Julius Kelm at the McDermot Avenue Baptist Church on April 14, 1910.

[1] Alan F.J. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975), p139

[2] Ibid., p105

[3] Ibid., p155

[4] A. Becker, “The Germans in Western Canada, A Vanishing People,” from CCHA Study Sessions 42, 1975, p29

[5] Artibise, p139

[6] 1891 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 27 May 2021 through Ancestry

[7] Heinz Lehman, The German Canadians, 1750-1937, translated by Gerhard P. Bassler, (St John’s, NL: Jesperson Press, 1986), p130

[8] Maria Rogalski, McDermot Avenue Baptist Church: 100th Anniversary, 1889-1989 (Winnipeg, MB: McDermot Avenue Baptist Church, 1989), p2

[9] Manitoba Free Press, 16 Feb 1885, accessed 27 May 2021 through

[10] Ibid., 14 Apr 1885, accessed 27 May 2021 through

[11] Rogalski, p2

[12] Donald Miller, “Volhynian Baptist Settlements in Western Canada,” from In the Midst of Wolves, accessed 26 Aug 2022,

[13] Rogalski, p6

[14] Ibid., p7

[15] Ibid., p9

19 Kirsch Children: Lydia Kirsch

Today I am continuing my 19 Kirsch Children project. Lydia Kirsch was the younger half-sister of my great-grandmother, Martha Kirsch. You can visit this page to find the other biographies in progress. Several years ago, when I lived in Surrey, British Columbia, I learned that Lydia and her husband, Emanuel Adler, had lived in nearby White Rock. I also think my family may have lived a few blocks from where she lived in Vancouver. I wish I knew more about her, but I hope family may find this blog entry one day and help fill in the blanks. Thank you to L. Alexander for the beautiful photograph of Lydia on her wedding day. Photographs for my project are rare and we have two of Lydia! There is a brief entry about another photograph of Lydia (and her sister, Pauline) here.

Note: I know only I am going to scrutinize endnotes, but I wanted to mention that will be very inconsistent as I work out how to uniformly cite sources for the final form of this project. In short, please excuse the sloppiness.

19 Kirsch Children: Lydia Kirsch

First photo of Lydia Kirsch Adler on her wedding day, Winnipeg, July 12, 1913, courtesy of L. Alexander; second photo of Lydia Kirsch, around 1907, Russia, courtesy of P. Reakes

Lydia Kirsch was born August 30 (September 12), 1892 (see explanation about different calendars at the start of this blog entry), in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia, to Samuel Kirsch and his second wife, Auguste Reiter. Lydia immigrated to Canada in 1910 or 1912[1] and married Emanuel Adler in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on July 12, 1913.[2]

According to the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Lydia and Emanuel lived at 695 Pritchard Avenue in Winnipeg’s North End.[3] Their first child, Frederick, was born December 23, 1916, in Winnipeg.[4] He died two years later from pneumonia.[5] A second son, Paul, was born in Winnipeg, on January 26, 1921.[6] Later that year, the family moved to Saskatchewan. They are living in the Rural Municipality of Tullymet, just east of Lipton, in the 1921 Census of Canada. Lipton was founded in 1901 by Jewish families from Russia and Romania and was one of the largest Jewish communities in Canada.[7] The community is approximately 150 kilometers from Ebenezer, where Lydia’s brothers, Karl and Daniel, lived. Lydia and Emanuel had six more children in Saskatchewan: Hedy, Bertha, Violet, Hertha, Monda, and Ewald. Violet died on May 26, 1937, at the age of nine.[8]

Many homesteaders in the Lipton area abandoned farming and went to live in cities.[9] In the 1949 Canadian “Rural List of Electors,” Emanuel is a farmer and still resides in Lipton.[10] In the 1957 list, Lydia and Emanuel are living in Vancouver, British Columbia, on East 55th Avenue.[11] Emanuel worked as a janitor.[12] In 1965, Emanuel and Lydia lived on Fraser Street in Vancouver (perhaps in the area of East 55th Avenue and Fraser Street).[13] When Emanuel died on April 14, 1976, their address was 1550 Oxford Street in White Rock, British Columbia, which is the Evergreen Community assisted living community today.[14] Emanuel was eighty-eight years old. Lydia died at the Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock at the age of ninety, on June 2, 1983.[15] She left behind a large family, including thirteen grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.[16]

“[Lydia Adler registration of death, 1983],” accessed 03 Aug 2022 through Provincial Archives of British Columbia

Descendants of Lydia Kirsch and Emanuel Adler

Lydia Kirsch (b. 20 Aug 1892 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 03 Jan 1983 in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada) m. (12 Jul 1913 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) Emmanuel Adler (b. 29 Oct (09 Nov) 1888 in Mjetschislawow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 14 Apr 1976 in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada)

  1. Frederick Emanuel Adler (b. 23 Dec 1916 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 1918 in Manitoba, Canada)
  2. Paul Emil Adler (b. 26 Jan 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 14 Dec 1995 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) m. (03 Jul 1947 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada) Martha Lydia Engel (b. 04 Feb 1926 in Lemburg, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 25 Apr 2000 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  3. Hedy (Heddie) Eileen Adler (b. 1923; d. 28 Sep 2016 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada) m. (abt 1949) Robert Alexander (b. 1919; d. 11 Apr 2011 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada)
  4. Bertha Alma Adler (b. 1926 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 16 Jan 2010 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada) m. (26 Apr 1944 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada) Edwin Siegfried Senft (b. 25 Apr 1921 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 23 Dec 1998 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  5. Violet Ruth Adler (b. 14 Mar 1928 in Canada; d. 26 May 1937 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  6. Hertha Adler (b. 06 Jul 1930 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada) m. James Manton (b. 25 Dec 1930 in Birmingham, England)
  7. Monda Adler m. Arthur Bohn (b. 28 Mar 1934 in Manola, Alberta, Canada; d. 28 Aug 2008 in Delta, British Columbia, Canada)
  8. Ewald Roy Adler (b. 18 Apr 1935 in Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 03 Nov 1997 in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) m. Marguerite Reid

[1] 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (1912) and 1921 Census of Prairie Provinces, 1926 (1910)

[2] “Lydia Kirsch” in Manitoba, Marriage Index, 1879-1931, accessed 20 Jul 2021 through Ancestry

[3] 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta

[4] “Frederick Emanuel Adler” in Manitoba, Canada, Birth Index, 1866-1912, accessed 20 Jul 2021 through Ancestry

[5] Correspondence with L. Alexander, 08 Feb 2021

[6] “Paul Emil Adler” in “Manitoba Vital Statistics Branch” genealogy database index, accessed 03 Aug 2022

[7] “Saskatchewan” in Jewish Virtual Library, accessed 03 Aug 2022,

[8] “Violet Adler [Registration: 2982]” in Genealogy Index Searches, accessed 20 Jul 2021 through eHealth Saskatchewan [Note: Place of death is 02-24-14-2]

[9] “CTV Regina: A look at the history of Lipton” , CTV News Regina, accessed 03 Aug 2022,

[10] Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980, accessed 03 Aug 2022 through Ancestry

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “[Emanuel Adler registration of death, 1976],” accessed 03 Aug 2022 through Provincial Archives of British Columbia

[15] “[Lydia Adler registration of death, 1983],” accessed 03 Aug 2022 through Provincial Archives of British Columbia

[16] “[Lydia Adler obituary]” in The Vancouver Sun, 04 Jan 1983, accessed 03 Aug 2022 through