Fonds 725 - Jacob Sudermann Photograph Collection

Totem pole Putative Suderman farmstead on the Nechako River John Suderman and Jake Suderman Bridge across the Nechako River Vanderhoof bridge Ferry and boat on the Nechako River Log house under construction Nechako River Sunday church service Homesteaders arrive at Vanderhoof A haying scene Jake Suderman Paddling on the Nechako River Haying scene Grand Trunk Pacific freight car #311461
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Identity area

Reference code

CA MHC 725


Jacob Sudermann Photograph Collection


  • 1918-1920 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

55 photographs: b&w in an album.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jacob Suderman (Oct 23, 1895-Mar 28, 1945) was born to Johann Suderman (1968-1950) and Susanna Giesbrecht (1873-1948) in the village of Neuhoffnung, near Altona, Manitoba. He was the fourth of fourteen children. The family was part of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church and later joined the Mennonite Brethren denomination. Some Mennonites were concerned that their young men would be conscripted in the Canadian military as World War One began. For this reason, the Sudermann’s sold their fixed assets and followed Mennonite Brethren evangelist Heinrich Voth to a remote region of British Columbia to begin a new Mennonite settlement near Vanderhoof, BC.
The families began arriving in April 1918 bringing with them tents, food, animals, and machinery including a steam engine to help clear the land of trees and till to soil. Jacob Sudermann took with him a camera and captured scenes of the pioneering efforts in Vanderhoof. In November 1918, three of the young men died from the Spanish Flu. After two years the settlement was abandoned and the Sudermann family returned to Manitoba in 1920.
Back in Manitoba Jacob married Maria Toews (1901- 1995) on October 5, 1920 and they had three children: Harold, Margaret and Irma. Jacob found work as a school teacher and labourer. He died unexpectedly in 1945.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Harold Suderman, son of Jacob, became the owner of the album after Jacob’s death. The album was sent by Harold’s daughter Jane Suderman, to Aileen Friesen of the Plett Foundation to be used in an article in Preservings by Harold about the Vanderhoof story. Jane Suderman gave instructions that the album be donated to the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

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Scope and content

This fonds consists of a leather-covered “Snap Shot Album” featuring the face and headdress of an indigenous man burned into the leather. Photographer, J.E. Suderman’s name appears at the top left and the name of his son, H.J. Suderman at the bottom left. Inside are fifty-five (55) black and white photos taken by Jacob Sudermann. Son Harold has supplied photo descriptions which were used as a guide.

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Related materials: See Allan Labun, The Family Story of John & Susan Suderman, Howard Dyck, “Tragedy in Vanderhoof,” in Mennonite Historian September 2015, Harold Suderman, “The Vanderhoof Expedition,” in "Preservings," 2018, Peter Neufeld, "Personal diary of Peter Neufeld 1917-1918," Lyn Hancock, "Vanderhoof: the town that wouldn’t wait."

Associated material: Margaret Suderman fonds, at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies and Allan Labun, "Margaret Suderman, Missionary Nurse."

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Accession No. 2018-049

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Described by Conrad Stoesz January 28, 2019, photo descriptions by Johanna Wiebe.




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