D Janke Photo

Colonists of Deutschenfeld board game is available exclusively at the GRHS store.

Cultural History Projects

Family and Village Projects


Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
~Zora Neale Hurston~
(American folklorist and Writer, 1903-1960)

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Dwayne Janke's Korner

About Dwayne

Dwayne Janke was born in Medicine Hat in 1959 and was raised there. Dwayne is the grandson of four Bessarabian-German grandparents—the Jankes, the Sandaus, the Stickels, and the Seitzs—who immigrated to Canada before and after the turn of the 20th century.

Dwayne’s first exposure to his family history was in a Grade 9 Western Canadian history class. The very first class assignment was for each student to draw up a family tree. Talking to his grandparents and looking through family Bibles, Dwayne discovered that his ancestors were all Germans who lived in the south Russian province of Bessarabia. He still has that small family tree pencil drawn on a piece of loose-leaf binder paper.

When Dwayne graduated from Medicine Hat High School in 1977, he went to Lethbridge to study journalism before working as a newspaper reporter at the Lethbridge Herald for eight years. It was during this time that he did extensive research into his family history, spending many hours gathering information from microfilmed church records both in Lethbridge and in Salt Lake City. He has visited the ancestral villages of his Stickel forefathers in the Black Forest region of Germany several times. He has traced this line of his family tree back to before the mid-1500s. Quite a few of his other family lines are also documented to the 1600s. All of his ancestors settled in Prussia and Poland between their time in Germany and Bessarabia.

In recent years, Dwayne has focused on researching and understanding not just genealogy but the social, political, cultural and religious history of his ancestors, right back to their origins in Germany. He has helped edit translations of Bessarabian materials from German to English, including village histories and cultural information. Dwayne enjoys helping others get started in researching their Bessarabian-German or Germans from Russia ancestry.

Dwayne currently lives in Calgary, with his wife Margaret and two sons.

The Colonists of Deutschenfeld board game, created by Dwayne Janke

Colonists Board Game image

The Colonists of Deutschenfeld is a board game based on actual historical events in South Russia in the early 1800s. Could you survive as well as your ancestors did? Play it and find out! It is currently available exclusively through GRHS.

Come play your family history with this fun and educational board game! Be a colonist family like your German-Russian ancestors. Experience their struggles and successes as they settle the wild steppes of Tsarist Russia in the 1800s.

Set up a farmstead, grow wheat, raise cattle and tend vineyards, all the while battling locusts, drought, and fluctuating prices over a 20-year period. Try to earn enough money to give your sons farmland so they won't need to migrate. Will you succeed or fail settling in your new home - the colony of Deutschenfeld?

Colonists of Deutschenfeld is based on historical events and circumstances--a great heritage experience for you, your children and grandchildren.

For 2-6 players. Ages 11+. Playing time 60-90 minutes.

See Frequently Asked Questions about the game.

Members OnlyCultural history projects

 Members OnlyFamily & village projects