MHM Book Launch Follow the Black Lines by Elsie K. Neufeld with Henry & Velma Braun

You Are Invited …

to our Book Launch!

Featuring: Follow the Black Lines by Elsie K. Neufeld with Henry & Velma Braun



March 18, 2023


Registration required.  To register call 604-758-5667.

Feel free to call after hours, just leave a message.

Café Open for 2 Seatings
11:30am and 12:30pm
Menu: Borscht & Bun, Platz
Reservations Required
By Donation Main Exhibit Tour at 12:30pm
Registration Required
Free Presentation at 2pm
with Complimentary Refreshments  & Self Guided Tours until 4pm
Registration Required

“Follow the Black Lines sets the standard for family histories. This story, so honestly told, of two “Russian Mennonites” and their families, will leave an indelible mark upon its readers. Far more, however, than a family history, it is a near novelistic account of the refugee experience, in this case a horrific flight from the Soviet Union during the ravages of World War II, to a brief but difficult interlude in Paraguay, and finally to successful integration into life in Canada. Ultimately, a transcendent tale of grace.”

—Robert Martens, writer, editor, poet

In a day when “family” is difficult to define, and lacks positive portrayal in the media, ”Follow the Black Lines” reminds us of the importance of our family stories. This book demonstrates the value of retelling our family hardships and tragedies.  In this volume lies the phenomenal story of the George and Margaret Braun extended family. It describes the years leading up to the family struggles as WWII refugees when they were constantly on the move, with few allies to hide, protect or feed them.  Rather, they were forced to adapt to incredibly diverse foreign cultures from Ukraine through Germany and postwar Western Europe, temporarily landing in Paraguay and, ultimately, Canada.  This Mennonite family faced hunger, disease and discrimination all described by a vivid narrative and by skillful placement of era photographs. But despite the brutal treks in severe weather conditions, across Western Europe and struggles in South America, the Braun family never forgot the sacrifices that had been made in search of freedom and a future for its off-spring.  Inevitably, extraordinary achievement beyond anyone’s expectations was realized in Canada. Undoubtedly, the seeds of that success were sown years before in the sacrifices of the family.

One cannot read this engaging biography without pining for the simplicity of a different time with different values.  Informative, comprehensive, and transparent, it could form the basis of a documentary.  Perhaps this remarkably well-researched family history will help us to escape society’s current tendency to self-centeredness and usher in a return to an unpretentious priority for the family.

—Bob Kuhn, President Emeritus, Trinity Western University


This exhibit extended to April 14:

Afternoon with the Author: Ralph Friesen

You Are Invited!

Book talk & signing with author Ralph Friesen featuring his biography/memoir, Dad, God and Me: Remembering a Mennonite Pastor and His Wayward Son

About this event

Spend an Afternoon with the Author at the Mennonite Heritage Museum as local author/editor Elsie K. Neufeld introduces us to author Ralph Friesen at 2pm.  Ralph will present his book with readings and stories followed by a Q & A.  The reading will be followed by book sales & signing by the author. Complimentary light refreshments will be served after the presentation and museum exhibits will be open from 11am to 4pm.  The gallery will feature a photography exhibit on loan from Manitoba titled “Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890-1940”.

Registration encouraged but not required.

Call 604-758-5667 and do leave a message if you are calling after hours.


*NEW* The MHM Café will be open (by reservation only) on February 25, 2023 for two seatings: 11am and 12pm. Borscht and a selection of baked treats will be on the menu. Call 604-758-5667 for more information and to reserve (required).


With degrees in English Literature and in Marriage and Family Therapy, Ralph Friesen is mindful of the transformative power of language and faith. Dad, God, and Me, his third book, deals partly with trauma—something he’s familiar with from personal experience and his career as a therapist. Now retired, he’s also an amateur historian, with a focus on Mennonite history. In 2009, he authored Between Earth & Sky: Steinbach, the First 50 Years, and in 2010, he received the Margaret McWilliams Award for excellence in the study and interpretation of the history of Manitoba, in the category of Local History. In 2004 he co-authored an inter-generational family history, Abraham S. Friesen, Steinbach Pioneer. Ralph lives in Victoria, British Columbia with his wife, Hannah.













“What a marvelous, candid, courageous book. So elegantly written. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, the writing drew me into Ralph’s world. I identified with much of the struggle he describes, cringed with recognition, admired his defiance while always allowing his father his due. Dad, God, and Me is life writing at its finest.”

​​- Armin Wiebe


“ … Friesen writes with compassion and fearless honesty, demonstrating throughout an impressive understanding of human nature and its frailties.

​   As the book progresses, so does a sense of “journey” for the reader. It is no small feat to re-live and reassess your youth, to examine every nook and corner of anecdote and letter and document to draw a true portrait of a father who you barely knew as a child. At the end of it all, Friesen leaves the reader with a sense of forgiveness and love: for himself, his father and for all who shared a life with him.”

– Brian d’Eon


For more information, please visit the author’s website: