Intimidation

What happened in Drake, Saskatchewan?

The basic situation is simple. Erhard Schroeder was a Mennonite who came to Canada in 1926 from the Ukraine and settled in the small town of Drake, SK. He had trained as a teacher, but his English wasn't good enough to teach in Canada. He worked other jobs until 1940, when he accepted an invitation to teach in a winter Bible School. He taught in German.

What happened next is not so simple. What we know about any event depends on our sources. A source can be a person, a letter, a newspaper article, or a photograph. Each source needs to be interpreted, because they don't always tell the whole story. That doesn't mean that the sources are wrong, only that they may be leaving out information.

For example, imagine that someone told you this story: “Ben was at a birthday party. He took the last piece of cake. And it wasn't even his party!” That might make you think that Ben is selfish. But what if the story went like this: “Ben was at a birthday party. He took the last piece of cake only after he made sure everyone else had had enough.” In both stories, Ben ate the last piece of cake, but one makes him look bad while the other makes him look good. 

The same applies to the sources about the incident in Drake. One group wants to make the Mennonites look bad while the Mennonites want to make themselves look good.  

Here is what happened, in the words of the Montreal newspaper the Daily Standard:

“Bible studies” are no longer being conducted at the German-English Bible school at the town of Drake as the result of a visit recently of a group of vigilantes described merely as a “group of men.”

The group of men who visited the school saw to it that the teacher of the school, a young man from the town of Rosthern, left Drake that evening.  

Information was that feeling was running high in the Drake district which was settled many years ago by large numbers of Mennonites. There were rumors of German activity.

The re-opening of the German-English Bible school, as it was called, brought matters to a head. Suspicious of the purpose of the school, a group of men paid a surprise visit, knocking at the door while the school was in progress.

The teacher invited the man in and when asked, explained he was conducting a German and English Bible school. 

The visitors looked around. On the blackboards they could see only German writing. In the exercise books of the children, only German writing. The text books were in German and of a half dozen examined, none of them was the Bible. If there were any Bibles in the classroom, the visitors did not see them.

The group of men, turning to the class declared that the English language was good enough for everyone in this country and could be learned in school. The teacher was invited to take the next train back to Rosthern.

He protested that he did not have the money to buy a railroad ticket. The men bought a ticket for him and saw that he left on the train. On the platform at the station, they sang “O Canada” as the train pulled out.

What do you think of this newspaper article? Does it seem fair, or is it one-sided? Compare this article to some other versions of the event. (Read another article reporting the same event).