About the Book

In the early 1930s, young Mennonite women—mostly adolescents—began to arrive in Vancouver, seeking work as domestic servants. Most had recently come to Canada as refugees from Russia, having escaped the terror of Stalin’s regime. Their desperate families owed a substantial debt to the Canadian Pacific Railway for their journey.

Continue continue

Book Cover

Table of Contents

  1. Daughters in the City
  2. Changing Sheets and Cleaning Chickens
  3. “Send Us Another Mennonite Maid”: The Bethel Home
  4. “A Calling”: Matrons and Thursdays
  5. A Safe Place: The Mary Martha Home
  6. “She Loved Us”: Tina Lehn and Post-war Changes
  7. A Quilt of Many Colours

Free Look Inside

Enter your name and email address.
Read the first section of Daughters in the City.

About the Author

Ruth Derksen Siemens is a first-generation Canadian of Russian Mennonite descent who was born in Vancouver and also lived in a traditional Mennonite community in the Fraser Valley. A scholar with a particular interest in historical documents and their socio-linguistic implications, she is an instructor of writing and rhetoric at the University of British Columbia. Her PhD in the philosophy of language (University of Sheffield) investigates a corpus of 463 letters written from the former Soviet Union by Russian Mennonites. Some of these letters appear in her edited work Remember Us: Letters from Stalin's Gulag (1930–37), published by Pandora Press.


Along with producer-director Moyra Rodger, Ruth is the co–executive producer of a documentary, Through the Red Gate, which traces the journey of the letters from Russia to an attic in Carlyle, Saskatchewan. The website www.gulagletters.com presents images of the original letters, their translations, photos of the Russian Mennonite writers, artists’ exhibits and the one-hour documentary.

Contact the author at: info@daughtersinthecity.com

Meet the author

Read an interview of the author published in The Tyee

You can meet Ruth in person at upcoming events
  • Broadcast on "The Early Edition" at CBC Radio 1: Friday, February 28th at 7:50 am. Also podcast continuously at www.cbc.ca
  • Local Author's Open House
    Sunday, April 10th, 2016 from 2-4:00 pm
    White Rock Library (15342 Buena Vista Ave, White Rock, BC)

Buy the Book


Purchase a copy via Paypal.


Purchase a bundle:

  • Daughters in the City
  • Through the Red Gate DVD
  • Remember Us: Letters from Stalin's Gulag


Click here for details.