Collection 693 - William Kehler conscientious objector photo album: Portage Mental Hospital

William Kehler William Kehler William Kehler and Dave Dyck Four men in hospital uniform Joe Kostenuik Mr. and Mrs. Tarr Male residence, Manitoba School Dr. Bristow's residence Totem Pole at Island Park At Island Park Man and child Boating on Crescent Lake, Island Park At Island Park Refreshment booth, Island Park Hermit's dwelling on the island
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Reference code

CA MHC 693


William Kehler conscientious objector photo album: Portage Mental Hospital


  • 1943-1945, 1994 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

100 photographs: B&W (in an album)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

William Kehler was born in Hochstadt, Manitoba to Gerhard Kehler and Katharina Janzen as the 7th of eight children. He was a member of the Sommerfeld Mennonite church at Schoenthal where he was baptized in 1930. During the Second World War he served as conscientious objector in a lumber camp (1942) and from 1943-1945 in the Manitoba School for Mentally Defectives in Portage la Prairie, MB. After the war he started work at the Co-op Vegetable Oils plant in Altona where he worked until his retirement in 1972. In retirement he took up photography, translating German documents, computers, and a founding member of the Altona Senior Citizen's Club. William Kehler was never married.

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Scope and content

This collection consists of 100 black and white photos depicting Kehler's experience as a conscientious objector during the Second World War, performing alternative service at the Portage la Prairie mental institution. The photos depict Kehler, his friends and staff (male and female), patients, doctors, the hospital grounds and activities undertaken by staff and patients. Most of the photos are identified in the album either on the back or on the adjoining page of notes.
Significant people named include Abe Hildebrandt, Bill Enns, George Harder, Jake Friesen, Gerhard Ens, John Funk, Isaac Doerksen, Dave Dyck, Henry Funk, William Kehler, George Martens, Ed Penner, Darcy Loewen, John Inglis and Dr. Bristow.

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Related units of description

Other portions of the William Kehler fonds can be found in the Altona & District Heritage Research Inc.
One of Kehler's retirement activities included translating German materials into English for Delbert Plett and others. Some of these translations can be found in this and other archives and publications.

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