Us Little People: Mennonite Children


120 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55046-272-5
DDC 779.92897'083




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is also the
author of The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek, and
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Hom


Self-sufficient communities become ever more fascinating as they
continue to dwindle in number. Carl Hiebert, a Canadian of
Russian-Mennonite descent, spent seven years exploring the way of life
in a far more conservative, old order Mennonite community in Waterloo
County. He moved gradually from a “vaguely defined project” of
documenting Mennonite lifestyle to the realization that in the faces of
the children he had found something special.

Hiebert’s patience, his affinity with the lifestyle, and his
photographic skills led him slowly into the community’s heart.
Eventually, in response to cautious queries, he was further rewarded
with children’s compositions from attics and parochial schools. Set
below and beside his photos, these compositions form the book’s basic
text. Even the title came from a child.

The photos reflect the children’s happiness and security. Joy,
thankfulness, and the desire to help others are the tonic notes. Farm
chores are seen as enjoyable: “Life on the farm is busy and fun,”
wrote a girl, age 9. Indeed the children felt sorry for city children
deprived of them.

Us Little People is a very special book, a set of images that the
photographer credits with touching his soul and that may have the same
effect on the viewer.


Hiebert, Carl., “Us Little People: Mennonite Children,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,