Chapter: Imagination

Werder Clock

"The Swiss were cuckoos, but the Mennonites were Werder"
1798 Werder Wall Clock crafted by Peter Kroeger in Prussia (now Poland) 1798 Werder clock face


Mennonites, like so many other groups in Manitoba, came to this land looking for a safe and stable home. Before arriving in Canada, they were often forced to flee from their motherlands. These forced migrations resulted in the vast majority of physical belongings being left behind. One especially prized possession was a wall clock and, after so many moves, the fact that these clocks remain demonstrates their importance to the Mennonite community.

Kroeger clocks were made by the prolific Kroeger clockmakers, who manufactured clocks for five generations; from the 1700s in Prussia (now Poland), to the 1930s in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine). The clocks were made by Mennonite clockmakers specifically for Mennonites and the majority of Mennonite homes owned one. They were often given to couples as wedding gifts and were passed down for generations, like this one was.

This particular clock was made by Peter Kroeger in Prussia in 1798. The initials “MA” and “DE” are those of the original owners. The Mennonite Heritage Village has a large collection of these types of clocks and this one is the oldest in the museum’s collection. Today, these clocks serve as cultural touchstones, family heirlooms, and witnesses to the social and political upheaval experienced by their makers and owners.