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Ens, Gerhard (1863–1952)

Gerhard Ens.
Saskatchewan Archives Board S-B675

Ens was born on December 28, 1863, in Ekaterinoslaw, then in the southern part of the Russian Empire. He received his education and was married in Russia, emigrating to Canada in 1891. Ens settled in the Rosthern area and many consider him to be the town’s founder. He was instrumental in bringing settlers to the Rosthern area, especially settlers from Mennonite communities, although Ens himself became a Swedenborgian. While Farming and becoming president of the Rosthern Realty Company, Ens worked as an Immigration Agent for the Canadian government for nine years. In 1905 Rosthern elected Ens, running for the Liberals, as its first member of the Legislative Assembly. Ens was Saskatchewan’s first MLA to be neither Anglo-Saxon nor Canadian-born. He became the government whip, and remained in the Legislature until 1913. After leaving provincial politics, Ens continued to help the Mennonite community. In the early 1920s he worked to have the ban on Mennonite immigration lifted. This ban had been put in effect by an Order-in-Council as a result of Mennonite pacifism during World War I. Gerhard Ens died on January 2, 1952.

Maryanne Cotcher

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