Menno Place celebrates 60 years

Banquet on March 2 will celebrate 60 years of one of B.C.'s largest campuses of care.

Lori Davis

Lori Davis

Menno Place’s roots in the Abbotsford community go back 60 years, to 1953, when a group of young adults decided to make a difference in their community by building a senior’s home.

That project has since grown into one of B.C.’s largest campuses of care for seniors and those requiring long-term assistance. The site has six buildings and more than 700 residents in full-time care and independent living facilities.

Jack Baerg was a member of the founding board of the Mennonite Benevolent Society, which initiated the creation of the first building, Menno Home. He said he and the members of a youth committee were inspired by another group in Saskatchewan who built a senior’s home.

“We got interested, we got excited about it. We corresponded, we had people come out and give us pep talks and we asked for support.”

They approached the Mennonite Church, which suggested they start a separate governance for their project, leading to the creation of the Mennonite Benevolent Society. Baerg said when they started, he never could have predicted that Menno Home would grow into a campus of care with a hospital and multiple buildings.

The group purchased the first four and a half acre piece of land on Marshall Road for $5,500 dollars, with a $250 down payment. Menno Home, a 26-bed facility, was officially opened on May 24 of 1954. On June 4, 1954, Justina Wiens became the first resident on the home.

After the first facility was built, the remaining land was used to grow strawberries and raise milk cows and other animals. The site even had its own butchery, with much of the food produced for residents on-site.

Currently, Menno Place spans 11.5 acres of land, between Brundige Avenue and Marshall Road. It is located across the street from the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and is a thriving community of seniors, residents and their families.

Josh Kramer, a resident at Menno Place, said he and his wife were welcomed with open arms to Menno Place. While his wife needed a hospital setting, he had more independence. His wife is cared for in Menno Hospital and Kramer lives independently. Within days of moving in, he was asked to take over leading the choir, an activity that he loves. He now leads another choir with patients in Menno Hospital.

“We are so grateful we can be part of this organization.”

Nital Murthi has been volunteering with Menno Place for four years and has worked there as a summer student. Her volunteer hours at Menno Place inspired her to want to become a doctor. It’s an experience that she said has taught her to take life as it is, and see things in a positive light.

“When I started off I was really shy, but now I’ve built more confidence working here.”

The non-profit organization has spent decades assisting those in need of long-term care in the Abbotsford community. Menno Place consists of three communities of care – Menno Home, Menno Hospital and Menno Apartments, providing a range of full-time care and assisted living. The Primrose Gardens apartments are the most recent addition to the facilities, built in 2010.

On March 2, Menno Place will mark their 60th anniversary with a banquet, held at the Columbia Bible College Gym with entertainment provided by the dynamic southern gospel troupe, Young Street Vocal Band. It will include an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing spiritual care of the residents and their families.

Catherine Kidd, a retired registered nurse and member of the board of directors for Menno Place, said it is an exciting time for the organization as they look towards the future.

Menno Place hopes to raise $100,000 to upgrade the chapel and increase the provision of spiritual care for residents, regardless of religion – something she said Menno Place values highly.

“This is the core of what makes Menno Place different.”

Tickets to the banquet are $25 and can be purchased at House of James, Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Primrose Gardens, online at, or call 604-851-4007.