C. N. Good–Firebrand in a small package

Cyrus N. Good was a little man with a big personality. He served as a minister and evangelist in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ denomination (today the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada) for almost 50 years.

He and his second wife, “Livy”were generous hosts to many Mennonite immigrants from the Soviet Union in the 1920s, putting on Christmas parties for some of the families hosted by the Bethany Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church in Kitchener where he was then pastor.

The article and bibliography of “C. N.” Good can be read in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO).


Cyrus N. Good. Photo from Gospel Banner (9 March 1967), p. 15

Cyrus Nathaniel “C. N.” Good: Mennonite Brethren in Christ pastor and church leader, was born on 19 November 1869 at Clarinda, Page County, Iowa to Jacob G. Good (9 March 1840-17 November 1914) and Rosina Frank Good (18 October 1842-29 June 1935). He was the third child in a family of two sons and two daughters. On 23 May 1894 he married Lovina Schneider (13 February 1873-16 February 1899); they had no children. On 2 October 1900 he married Olivia “Livy” C. Hallman (19 February 1877-22 December 1942); they had two sons and two daughters. After Livy’s death, on 3 October 1945 C. N. married Lina Brothers Sinden (1889-1954), the widow of fellow Mennonite Brethren in Christ pastor, Charles I. Sinden. C. N. Good died 17 February 1967 in Kitchener, Ontario.

Jacob and Rosina Good, who had lived earlier in the Roseville, Ontario area, returned to Ontario with their family in 1870 six months after Cyrus’s birth. Jacob was a blacksmith, and worked in a variety of villages around Waterloo County. According to the 1871 census the family was affiliated with the Evangelical Association. Cyrus had the usual elementary school education. He was always a short man, being five feet, four inches in height. Cyrus had a conversion experience at the age of 18 and became a member of the Bethany Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church in Berlin, Ontario, where the family began to attend in 1879 after moving to town. He worked for a time in the grocery business, but felt a call to ministry. C. N. (as he was always known as a minister) began to preach locally in 1893, and received a “Probationer’s” license in 1894 that saw him serve as a helper (assistant pastor) in the Bethany and Breslau congregations. In 1896 he was appointed to serve the Port Elgincongregation, and was also ordained as a minister. Over the years he also pastored the Conestoga, Elmwood, Aylmer, Toronto West, and Markham congregations. He held the first meetings in Hanover in 1901 that led to the formation of the Hanover congregation several years later. During his years in Markham, C. N. revived a congregation badly divided by the Pentecostal movement of the day. Good retired from active congregational ministry in 1943.

C. N. Good also served the Ontario Mennonite Brethren in Christ conference in many capacities. In 1913 he became President of the City Mission Committee, serving for six years at that time. Overall he served 20 years as the leader of the city mission work. He was a Presiding Elder for seven years, and chaired the annual conference four years. He also served as secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Conference for 13 years. He was a part-time or full-time evangelist for 18 years. He attended the Ontario district conference annual meetings 64 consecutive years (1895-1957). During his 50 years of active service he attended 2,829 Sunday school sessions, 3,469 prayer meetings, preached 9,434 sermons and made 22,084 pastoral visits. His average annual salary was $773.35. He was a popular preacher, and served widely in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ denomination as an evangelist. C. N. and Livy Good are buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Kitchener.

— Sam Steiner

Harvey Taves — a Entrepreneur of Service

Last week looked at the life of Iva Sherk Taves, an early female Mennonite medical doctor, who spent years as the pathologist at the public hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo. Iva had deep “Swiss Mennonite” roots, with a prominent Mennonite Brethren in Christ minister for a father.

Today we look at her husband, Harvey Taves, who came from a very different “Russian Mennonite” Kanadier background. Harvey was born in Steinbach, Manitoba to a family descended from 1870s immigrants; he father was a teacher.

Although he came from a theologically conservative background, Harvey showed himself as a creative thinker dedicated to Christian service. He became director of Mennonite Central Committee’s Canadian office in 1953 at age 27, and worked for MCC until his premature death in 1965.

In those 12 years he established homes for delinquent boys, placed school teachers in the outports of Newfoundland, and was a key proponent and organizer in the creation of Conrad Grebel University College.

This article by Lucille Marr on Harvey Taves was written for the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online in 2009. See the link for the full bibliography.


Harvey and Iva Toews with their two daughters, ca. 1960. Family photo

Harvey W. Taves: churchman; born 22 March 1926 in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada to Julius G. Toews and Helen (Buhr) Toews. He was the eighth child in a family of six sons and two daughters. In June 1951 he married Iva Sherk, daughter of J. Harold (20 December 1903-28 February 1974) and Mila Senor Sherk (3 December 1900-13 January 1983) at the Bethany United Missionary Church, Kitchener, Ontario. Iva’s father J. Harold Sherk officiated. Harvey W. and Iva Sherk Taves had two daughters, Mila and Mary. Harvey died 11 May 1965, in Kitchener, Ontario when the children were eight and six years old.

Harvey was baptized as a teenager in the Steinbach Bergthaler Mennonite Church. He started High School in Steinbach, and at the age of 16 moved with his parents to Altona, Manitoba. After completing his secondary education he taught at Norway House Indian residential school for one year, then spent most of a year in charge of a United Church mission pastorate at Island Lake, Manitoba. There, he had a church base but visited his native Indian congregation using a canoe in summer and dog team in winter. The destruction of the church building, by fire, ended that phase of his ministry. It was followed by a period of teaching in the Mennonite community of Halbstadt, Manitoba.

In 1948, Harvey completed a year at Grace Bible Institute (later Grace University, Omaha, Nebraska). That summer, as one member in a three man Peace Team he met Iva at the first reunion of Canadian World War II conscientious objectors, held in Kitchener, Ontario. The reunion and peace rally had been arranged by J. Harold Sherk, and Iva had been assigned to help her father in the book tent.

In fall 1948 Harvey transferred to Goshen College, Indiana, where in early 1951 he completed his bachelor’s degree in History. Harvey worked in accounting in Toronto, Ontario from the spring of 1951 to the end of summer 1952. He and Iva, a medical student at the University of Toronto, married 2 June 1951. In fall 1952 Harvey entered Goshen Biblical Seminary while Iva undertook her internship in Toronto.

Harvey’s seminary plans were interrupted at the invitation of Orie Miller, Executive Secretary of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Orie arranged for Harvey to manage the MCC’s Canadian office (then located in Waterloo and later in Kitchener). This assignment was taken up in February 1953.

Harvey’s church affiliation changed with his location and assignments. In Ontario he first joined Iva’s church (Bethany). Later, when he was asked to conduct Sunday evening services in German at Preston Mennonite Church (for the benefit of recent immigrants), he and Iva joined that congregation. When these services were no longer required Harvey and Iva joined the newly established Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, fall 1960.

Harvey W. Taves would serve as director of Mennonite Central Committee’s Canadian office from 1953 to 1964, and director of MCC Ontario from 1964 to his death in 1965. Challenging older leaders who cautioned against taking risks, Taves moved ahead with enthusiasm. In his role on the executive of the Conference of Historic Peace Churches, for instance, he was able to convince them that establishing Ailsa Craig Boys’ Farm for juvenile delinquents was one way Mennonites could express their gratitude for the conscientious objector privileges granted them during World War II.

Harvey’s passion and vision for peace and service manifested itself as well in various innovations. These included Mennonite Disaster Service and Voluntary Service units, placing teachers and nurses in outport areas of Newfoundland, Canada. He also played a significant role in the creation of Conrad Grebel (University) College, established in 1963 on the campus of the University of Waterloo.

Harvey’s health became an increasing concern. In fall 1951, at age 25, he had his first asthmatic attack. In the early 1960s the attacks became more frequent and severe. During the last year of his life, trips to the hospital were frequent. His death at age 39 at the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital on 11 May 1965 was caused by pneumonic complications in his asthmatic condition.

In the last year of his life, Harvey served as Executive Director of MCC Ontario, now a regional office of MCC Canada. Although the change which placed the Canadian head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was difficult for him to accept, he did so with grace. Agreeing to stay on as part-time director of the new MCC Ontario, Harvey also worked on a graduate degree in sociology at the University of New York at Buffalo (New York).

During this transition period, Harvey W. Taves wrote to a fellow administrator in the MCC: “It is wonderful to have been, and still to be, a part of the MCC program. It is my belief that this program is the most exciting part of the Mennonite witness.” The memorial plaque placed at the MCC Ontario headquarters articulates well Harvey W. Taves’ passion and his mission: “As one of Christ’s men, he devoted his life in the service of the church to the ministry of alleviating human suffering.”

See also Taves, Iva Ruth (1928-2011)

— Lucille Marr, 2009

Iva Taves — Pioneer Pathologist

Iva Sherk was a person who spoke her mind plainly and without adornment. Perhaps she got this from her father, J. Harold Sherk, a Mennonite Brethren in Christ preacher, and a life-long advocate for peace theology within his denomination and the larger Mennonite world.

She lost her husband, Harvey Taves, when she was only 37, with two daughters still at home. Harvey had been another visionary leader within Mennonite Central Committee Ontario who launched many new service initiatives.

Iva’s life took another direction–the service profession of medicine at a time when women still made up only a small percentage of students in medical schools.

This article can be seen with bibliography in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO)


Harvey and Iva Toews with their daughters, ca. 1960. Family photo

Iva Ruth Sherk: physician and pathologist, was born 6 May 1928 in rural Maryborough Township, Wellington County, Ontario to J. Harold Sherk (20 December 1903-28 February 1974) and Mila (Senor) Sherk (3 December 1900-13 January 1983). Iva was the oldest child in a family of two daughters and two sons. On 2 June 1951 she married Harvey Taves (22 March 1926-11 May 1965). They had two daughters, Mila and Mary. On 16 November 1991 she married John W. Snyder (20 September 1925-2 October 2012). Iva died 29 March 2011 at the Freeport Health Centre in Kitchener, Ontario. She is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Kitchener.

Iva was born in the home of a young Mennonite Brethren in Christ pastor serving in his first congregation, though her mother was of Wesleyan Methodist background. Because of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ polity that required pastors to change pastorates every three to five years, the family moved frequently prior to World War II. Iva was an excellent student, attending mostly rural public schools and graduating from high school at Kitchener Collegiate Institute in 1946. Following an goal held since childhood, Iva Sherk applied to the University of Toronto Medical School in 1946, and was accepted one week before classes began in the fall. Of the almost 200 students in the entering class, the nine female students all received their acceptances at the last minute. The attitude remained strong in those immediate post-war years that women students were “taking a man’s place.” Although money was short, Iva was able to complete her medical degree in six years, which included two years of pre-med and four years of medical school.

Harvey Taves and Iva Sherk met in June 1948 when Harvey was touring Ontario as part of a Goshen College peace team whose Canadian itinerary was directed by Iva’s father. After their 1951 marriage, Harvey worked in Toronto during Iva’s last year of medical school. Iva graduated in 1952, one of seven women in a class of 107. When she undertook her junior internship the following year, this essentially meant living at the hospital. Harvey returned to Indiana to study at Goshen Biblical Seminary. In early 1953 at the request of Orie Miller, Harvey returned from his studies to become the director of the Canadian office of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) located in Kitchener, Ontario. Iva went on to undertake a specialty in pathology, a profession she believed would provide more regular hours for a young family. Initially Harvey and Iva were members at the Bethany United Missionary Church, but then joined Preston Mennonite Church. In 1960 they became early members of the new Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Although Iva and Harvey originally envisioned overseas service, Harvey’s increasing health concerns made this dream impossible. The Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital (later Grand River Hospital), within blocks of her home in the MCC house on Union Street, engaged Iva as a pathologist in 1956. As a  pathologist she worked especially closely with surgeons, a medical profession then completely dominated by male colleagues. Her self-confidence and high professional standards allowed her to survive in a work environment that would have challenged many. In 1964 she became the head of laboratory services at the hospital, utilizing her considerable administrative skills. She was respected for being very well organized and for her firm style of leadership.

In 1967 Iva Taves became the first female member of the Hamilton Society of Pathologists after some resistance. The group held its meetings in the Royal Hamilton Military Institute, which had previously allowed no female guests. In 1972/73 Iva became the first female president of the Ontario Association of Pathologists. She also served on Hospital Laboratory Accreditation Committees. During her 37 years of service at the hospital she saw many medical advancements and development of new techniques in her field. She retired in 1993.

With high energy and a plain-spoken manner, Iva Taves combined her profession with raising her two young daughters after Harvey’s early death in 1965. She enjoyed camping with her daughters and listening to classical music. She lamented the loss of the latter in later years as she suffered significant hearing loss. She was grateful for her second marriage of almost 20 years; Harvey and Iva had been longtime friends of John Snyder and his first wife, Lois. Her no-nonsense manner continued even in her last days, as she dismissed any heroic treatment for the cancer she had learned of only weeks before. She said she had a good life but the time had come to go.

Iva Taves was a pioneer in a medical profession that brought her great satisfaction. She faced with determination the numerous challenges in life that altered her plans. Having grown up in a pastoral family with limited financial resources, she became a generous contributor to her church and to charities that aided the less fortunate. She is remembered with respect.

— Sam Steiner

Joseph B. Hagey–Benjamin Eby’s Successor

Joseph Bergey Hagey had the misfortune of following Benjamin Eby, the charismatic, prosperous farmer, bishop, author who served as the Mennonite bishop in Waterloo County, Ontario for over 40 years, beginning in 1812. Hagey came from a poor family that had experienced bankruptcy in Pennsylvania. He became a farmer on his father-in-law’s land.

He was ordained as a minister at age 29, but does not seem to have been a strong leader. He waffled when faced with conflict, and was inclined to inaction as a response. He was bishop during a difficult period in Ontario Mennonite history, and may have died prematurely as a result of the pressures he faced.

Joseph Hagey has been fairly invisible in Mennonite history, though he great grandson is credited with founding the University of Waterloo.

See the full article and bibliography on the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.


Joseph Hagey’s tombstone in the Breslau Mennonite Cemetery. Photo by Scott Buschlen

Joseph B. Hagey: bishop and farmer; born 11 June 1810 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania to Daniel and Elizabeth (Bergey) Hagey. He and his twin brother, Daniel, had an older brother, and a younger brother and sister. In 1832 he married Sophia Bricker (20 December 1810-4 November 1895). She was the daughter of Sam Bricker, famous for his role in raising funds in Pennsylvania to buy the German Company Tract (much of Waterloo Township) from Richard Beasley. Joseph and Sophia Hagey had six sons and five daughters. Joseph died 31 December 1876 and was buried in the Breslau Mennonite cemetery. It was said that three hundred carriages were part of the funeral procession, with one thousand persons in attendance at the service.


In 1822 Joseph Hagey came with his family from Pennsylvania after his father went bankrupt in business there. They lived on a farm just north of Cambridge (Preston). After their marriage, Joseph and Sophia lived on the farm owned by her father; they became the owners in 1837.

On 10 February 1839 Joseph Hagey was ordained as a minister, probably by Benjamin Eby, and on 31 May 1851 he was ordained as a bishop to assist the aging Eby. He served in the Hagey congregation as a pastor, but as a bishop carried responsibility for all the congregations in Waterloo Township. His years of service followed those of a very charismatic bishop, and Hagey never received the acclaim of his predecessor. In his later years he was faced with division within the Ontario Mennonite Conference. The division was sparked by a revival in Solomon Eby’s congregation in Port Elgin, Ontario in 1870, and a similar revival within Waterloo County. These Methodist-style prayer/revival meetings were often held in homes, and were not yet generally accepted within the Mennonite community.  Initially Hagey responded positively and baptized converts from the Port Elgin revival. However he then declined to baptize the Waterloo converts because of objections that arose within the conference leadership. Although another bishop finally baptized this group in 1871, the controversy festered and finally resulted in the division that created the Reforming Mennonites (later part of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ).

Although Hagey was not successful in maintaining peace in the Ontario Mennonite community, he was a peacemaker in spirit. He assisted several attempts to help settle a church conflict in Indiana as a participant and served as the nominal leader (as bishop) of an Ontario delegation that attempted to mediate the conflict. Joseph B. Hagey was a longtime leader in the largest Mennonite settlement in Ontario during troubled times; his failure to preserve unity does not diminish the magnitude of his service to the church. — Sam Steiner

Martin Boese–an Immigrant Entrepreneur

Martin Boese came as an immigrant to Canada in 1930, a little later than many of the other 1920s “Russian Mennonite” immigrants. Nonetheless he was assisted by members of the “Swiss Mennonite”community, and found success on the Niagara Peninsula in the fruit farming industry.

This article by Erica Jantzen in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online tells the story of a man who did not forget his roots, and assisted 240 other Mennonites to come to Canada.


Martin Boese, ca. 1954. Family photo

Martin Boese Sr.: farmer, businessman; born 20 March 1888 in the Crimea, Southern Russia. He was baptized in 1910 and became a member of the Mennonite Church in Kurushan, Crimea. In 1911 he married Maria (Quapp) Boese (20 January 1892-1 April 1976). The young couple farmed in Blumstein, Ukraine. During World War I, Boese Sr. served in the medical corps of the Russian Army.

In 1930 Martin Boese Sr. came to Canada with his wife and six of their seven children (Heinz died as an infant in Russia): Martin Jr. (1912-1951), John (1914-1996), Elizabeth (1915-2007), Isbrandt (1916-2012), Heinz (1921-1924), Helen (1922-2007), Mary (born 20 January 1929). The family arrived in Kitchener, Ontario, but since Boese Sr. and his oldest sons could not find work, the family moved to Vineland. Following an appeal from their minister, S. F. Coffman, the First Mennonite Church in Vineland provided the family with beds, a table and chairs and other household necessities.

Soon after his arrival in Vineland, Martin Boese Sr. bought a 16-acre farm in Beamsville with a down payment of $1.75. With his sons he established a trucking business. In 1934, the Boese family bought 33 acres of government land in Virgil, which was divided among the family members. Four years later they purchased a 75-acre fruit farm in Port Dalhousie for $17,500. Boese Sr. expanded the farm to 200 acres and by 1945 had set up a fruit canning and processing plant. “Boese Foods” operated under the brand name “Henley” which, at the height of its production, was one of the largest processing plants in the Niagara peninsula, employing up to 1,000 women and 250 men in the canning season. Son John took over the Port Dalhousie plant from his father in 1958 while son-in-law Frank Andres operated a second plant in Leamington. Martin Sr. became chairman of the board, a position he held until his retirement in 1963 when the business was purchased by Canadian Canners.

On a visit to Paraguay in 1949, Martin Boese Sr. saw the plight of the post World War II  immigrants struggling to make a living in the Mennonite colonies and set out to help them come to Canada. The Boese family sponsored 240 people from Paraguay, Brazil and Germany. Many of them worked at Boese Foods.

Throughout his life, Martin Sr. showed a deep concern for the Mennonite Church. Upon arrival in Vineland, he became a member of the newly organized Vineland United Mennonite Church. In 1935 he served as chairman of the building committee and spent much time and labor in the completion of the church building. When he and his family moved to St. Catharines, he was one of the 16 founding members of the United Mennonite congregation. He supported the building of each of their churches, first on Carlton Street, then on Garnet Street, and finally on Linwell Road.

Martin Boese Sr. highly valued his family and many friends. In 1961 he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding and in 1971, within the family circle, their diamond wedding. On 23 July 1973 he died at age 85 and is buried at Victoria Lawn Cemetery, Vineland. Elder J. J. Thiessen from western Canada came to his funeral and spoke about his willingness to give help wherever the need arose. Martin Sr. was a remarkable man—a farmer—who at 43 years of age and with no funds arrived in Canada with his wife and children to become a highly successful businessman.

Salome Bauman: the Soul of Rockway Mennonite School

Salome Bauman grew up as the youngest child in a poor family near Floradale, Ontario. Despite her circumstances, she was a gifted student, and eventually finished high school at Kitchener Collegiate Institute. She became an elementary school teacher in Kitchener, and her life seemed settled.

When she was 36 years old, she was invited to part of a new venture sponsored by the Mennonite Conference of Ontario — to be one of two teachers at Rockway Mennonite School, together with Principal Harold Groh. She accepted, taking a substantial salary cut, and became the “soul” of Rockway Mennonite School for the next 25 years.

She worked hard to improve her skills, and her intensity and dedication were remembered by many former students.

See the article on Salome Bauman in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) for the full article and bibliography.


Salome Bauman. Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo

Salome Bauman: teacher and role model, was born 27 March 1909 on the family farm north of Floradale, Ontario to Silas Bauman (27 August 1861-21 January 1913) and Lydia Ann Groff Bauman (27 November 1862-8 May 1949). She was the youngest in a family of 13 — nine boys and four girls. The family was one of the few in the Floradale community that did not go with the Old Order Mennonites in the division of 1889.

Silas and Lydia Ann became charter members of the Floradale Mennonite Church, and Silas was ordained as a deacon in 1896. Both Silas and Lydia Ann were regular contributors of articles to the Herald of Truth and the Gospel Herald. The early death of Salome’s father from cancer in 1913 (as well as the deaths in 1907 and 1908 of the two oldest sons) meant the family was poor.

Despite her difficult early years, the family encouraged Salome to further her education, and she boarded for a time in Elmira in order to attend “Middle School.” After Lydia Ann moved to Kitchener with the youngest children in the mid-1920s, Salome finished her high school at Kitchener Collegiate Institute, and graduated with the highest marks in Waterloo County. After a year of normal school she taught first grade in the public school system for 12 years.

In 1945 the Mennonite Conference of Ontario launched Rockway Mennonite School in Kitchener as more Pennsylvania-German background Mennonite students pursued a high school education. Conference leaders had concerns about the cadet program, and aspects of the physical education program and science classes in the public system. Harold Groh, superintendent of the Toronto Mission, obtained a high school teaching certificate in 1945, the first Mennonite within that conference to do so, and was chosen at the first principal for the new school. Groh knew Salome Bauman’s sister, Louida, as she had worked at the Toronto Mission for some years. Salome, as an experienced teacher, was invited to become the second teacher at the new school. She consented, taking a 40 per cent reduction in salary.

Salome Bauman taught English, French and Latin at Rockway for 25 years, and for two of those years (1960-1962) served as the principal of the growing institution. She completed her B.A. in 1951, and for a number of summers spent time in Quebec in order to improve her oral French language skills. She moved around the classroom when she taught, and constantly challenged students to do their best work. Occasionally a sharp verbal edge, reflecting the intensity with which she engaged her vocation, would catch students off guard. Salome demonstrated care for her students and would readily lead the class in prayer in times of difficulty, for example for a fellow student’s health crisis. She was a dedicated, inspiring teacher who had little difficulty maintaining discipline in her classes. The school’s historian described Salome Bauman as the “soul of Rockway Mennonite School in its first two decades.”

The later 1960s were less fulfilling for her, as Rockway Mennonite School faced financial difficulties and introduced a less traditional approach to pedagogy. When the Mennonite Conference of Ontario in 1970 held a plebiscite in its churches on whether to close or continue the school, Salome Bauman voted to close the school, though a strong majority of 74 per cent voted for continuation.

Notwithstanding the disappointments of the later years, Salome Bauman helped to shape a generation of Ontario Mennonite students. She also participated actively at First Mennonite Church, teaching Sunday school man;y years, sometimes directing the Vacation Bible School and serving on church council in the 1960s. She wrote a short history of the congregation for its sesquicentennial.

Salome Bauman died 16 April 1986 at Fairview Mennonite Home; she is buried in the cemetery at First Mennonite Church. Her dedication and work ethic provided a strong role model for her students and all those she encountered. Her life as a single woman who fully utilized her leadership skills commanded and received respect.

Isaac R. Horst — Old Order Mennonite Historian

Isaac R. Horst was a struggling Old Order Mennonite farmer who discovered his true vocation after he retired. He became an interpreter of Old Order Mennonite life and thought to the “English” through his writings and public presentations. He also assisted in translating many obscure letters, diaries and documents from hand-written Gothic German to English, greatly assisted by his knowledge of Mennonite religious language.

He came numerous times to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario during my years there, both to sell his books and to do research on his many projects.

He had a folksy, somewhat undisciplined writing style that communicated well. He was a popular speaker to Elderhostel groups.

The article reproduded below from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) was written within the past month. Click on the link to see the article, along with a bibliography of his writings.


Isaac Horst’s first book, 1979

Isaac Reist Horst: Old Order Mennonite farmer, teacher, translator and author, was born 28 May 1918 in Woolwich Township, Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada to John B. Horst (10 April 1875-November 1960) and Anna “Nancy” Reist (5 July 1878-17 February 1942). Isaac was the sixth son, and youngest child in a family of eight children. On 26 October 1943 he married Selina M. Bauman (22 July 1920-9 December 2014); they had nine daughters and four sons. One son died in infancy. Isaac R. Horst died 18 November 2008; he and Selina were buried in the Cedarview Mennonite cemetery near Mount Forest, Ontario.

Isaac Horst grew up on a farm, and attended the public school system in his Mennonite community until the age of 14. He enjoyed reading from early in his school years. He was not physically strong, and was unable to perform some of the heavier manual labor on the family farm. After his 1943 marriage to Selina, Isaac took up market gardening on a small property purchased from his grandfather, though with limited success. For the following 25 years Isaac alternated between jobs at Snyder Flour Milling in St. Jacobs, Ontario, further attempts at farming, odd jobs off the farm, and two years of teaching at the Balsam Grove school within the Old Order Mennonite parochial school system that began in the 1960s.

In the mid 1960s Isaac and Selina Horst, with several other families, purchased farms in the Mount Forest, Ontario area, though for various reasons they did not move there until 1968. This was the first successful effort among the Ontario Old Order Mennonites to establish a daughter community geographically separate from the Waterloo County community. By 2002 there were 180 Old Order families in the Mount Forest settlement.

After retirement from farming, Isaac worked 10 years wrecking buildings for salvage; a business that was more remunerative than any of his earlier vocations. He also pursued his love of reading by taking correspondence courses in English literature.

Isaac then began a new vocation in translating texts from German to English, and in writing about Ontario Old Order Mennonite life and history. All of his early works were self-published, some of them issued as mimeographed sheets in three-hole binders.

His first substantial work was Up the Conestogo, self-published in 1979. It was a 450-page story of Old Order Mennonites in Ontario, combining family history and creative non-fiction enactments of events based on diaries, news accounts and oral history. It is illustrated with maps and pictures, many of them by Horst himself. It is not “history,” but rather is a variety of accounts of Old Order families and places.

Horst’s most useful historical text was Close Ups of the Great Awakening (1985), a detailed historical account of divisions within the Ontario Mennonite community in the 19th century, based on letters, diaries and official documents of the era. Especially useful are lengthy quotes from translations of German-language sources otherwise virtually unavailable, and Horst’s interpretation from an Old Order perspective of the impact of 19th century Pietism and revivalism on the Ontario Mennonite community.

Over the years Isaac Horst became comfortable speaking to outsiders wanting to learn more about Old Order Mennonites. He often spoke to Mennonite Studies classes at the University of Waterloo, and to Elderhostel groups. He wrote a column, “Old Order Voice,” in the Mennonite Reporter from 1989-1997 as well as a number of articles for Mennogespräch, the historical bulletin of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario.

Perhaps Isaac R. Horst’s most lasting contribution was through his translations from German to English of handwritten letters and documents, many of them in the gothic script. His familiarity with Mennonite religious terminology, and his encyclopedic knowledge of Mennonite family relationships in Ontario gave him insights that translators external to the community would not have had. His translations included 1600 letters from the Jacob Mensch collection–letters written to a conservative Mennonite leader in Pennsylvania in the 19th century. He also translated 300 or more hymns for Wilmer Swope, and worked on various “Pennsylvania Dutch” dictionary projects. His translation work combined the need for a small source of income with a love for delving deeply into his Mennonite heritage.

Isaac Horst had a self-effacing wit, an engaging extroverted personality, and a desire to better understand the people and world around him. For a time he may have been the best-known, and most read, Old Order Mennonite in North America.

— Sam Steiner

Orland Gingerich — Amish Mennonite Bishop

Orland Gingerich was a soft-spoken man who carried progressive ideas forward with a humble persistence. Although a farmer and cheese-maker (Kochäse or cook cheese) by vocation, Orland accepted his church’s call to leadership and became a minister and bishop. For Orland, leadership meant advanced education, something not readily welcomed by many in the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference (later Western Ontario Mennonite Conference).

The article by Virginia Hostetler  in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) that is replicated below outlines his impact on the Ontario Amish Mennonite community.

Perhaps less recognized is his contribution to Amish Mennonite history in Ontario. He wrote the first book-length history on Ontario Amish, and participated in some foundational oral history projects.

The full article, with bibliography, can be seen at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Gingerich,_Orland_S._(1920-2002).


Agnes and Orland Gingerich. Family photo

Orland Steinman Gingerich: Ontario minister and bishop, active in Mennonite historical research and interpretation, and in leadership in other Mennonite organizations; born on 12 November 1920 in Wilmot Township, Waterloo County, Ontario, the oldest child of four born to John Z. Gingerich (24 January 1887-9 December 1962) and Annie (Steinmann) Gingerich (7 January 1893–4 July 1973). Orland married Agnes Irene Roth (1924- ) on 3 July 1948; they had 10 children. Orland died 23 January 2002 in Kitchener, Ontario.

In 1950 Orland graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a Bachelor of Arts in the Bible. He also studied at Goshen Biblical Seminary and later at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Orland became the first theologically trained pastor in the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference (later called Western Ontario Mennonite Conference). He was ordained in 1951 and served as a minister at his home congregation, Steinmann Mennonite Church, from 1951 to 1972. In 1954 he was selected by lot for the office of bishop, the last bishop in the conference to be selected by this method.

In the early years of his ministry, Amish pastors and bishops did not receive a salary from their congregations, so Orland earned a living through farming and cheese making. He served as a pastor at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church (1973-1974), Bloomingdale Mennonite Church (1974-1984), Wilmot Mennonite Church (1986), East Zorra Mennonite Church (1987-1988, 1994-1996,)Preston Mennonite Church (1988-1989), and Rainham Mennonite Church (1989-1991). Church administrative matters also interested Orland. In 1963, when the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference was re-structured and was renamed the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, Orland became the ministerial superintendent (conference minister) for the conference. He also served on the conference’s mission board for 12 years.

Although the Amish tradition in which he grew up did not encourage education beyond elementary school, Orland was a strong proponent of learning. During the 1950s and 1960s he taught in the Winter Bible Schools of the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference and in the Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute. He was a founding board member of Conrad Grebel College, the Mennonite church college associated with the University of Waterloo. He served on that board from 1961 to 1979.

Orland had a deep love of history and used his skills to promote knowledge of Mennonite history in particular. On 8 May 1965, at the first meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, he gave a presentation on the reasons to form a historical society. He went on to become a charter member of the Society, serving as the first vice-president of the board (1965-1977) and as president (1977 to 1980). Over the years, he conducted research, wrote and spoke on many historical topics of southwestern Ontario. For a period of time Orland held the title of “Conference Historian” for the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference. He also served on the committee which planned the events for the sesquicentennial commemoration of the arrival of the Amish to Canada, celebrated in 1973.

Orland was the author of The Amish of Canada (Conrad Press, 1972), the first major source on the Canadian Amish Mennonites. His writings appear in five-volume The Mennonite Encyclopedia, in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), and in the publications of Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario. His profile ofChristian Nafziger, who played a key role in the Amish settlement in Canada, appeared in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.


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Known for his soft-spoken and humble manner, Orland Gingerich has been described as a “risk taker,” a “church statesman,” and a “servant- leader” who had deep respect for others and who helped lead the church through times of much change.

Elsie Cressman and midwifery in Ontario

Elsie Cressman was for many years a medical missionary in Africa. But what made her famous was her role in achieving legal status for midwifery in Ontario. Her pioneering efforts were not without personal consequences for Elsie. At age 75 she was sued in relationship to a birth 13 years earlier. This experience led to further clarification of the rules for informed-consent in relation to midwives.

The article below, written by Howard Bean, from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), relates Elsie’s conservative Mennonite background and a hint of her personality. See the article for bibliography and a link to a news article about Elsie.

A book by Nancy Silcox, Elsie Cressman: A Trailblazing Life, provides more information.


Elsie Cressman in Africa, 1960s. Family photo.

Elsie Cressman: missionary and midwife; born 13 April 1923 in Wilmot Township, Ontario, Canada, to Curtis and Amanda (Byler) Cressman, the fourth in a family of 4 daughters and 2 sons. She never married. She died 11 September 2012 in New Hamburg, Ontario. She became a Christian in her youth and became a member of the Biehn Mennonite Church (later Nith Valley) where her father was a pastor.

Elsie attended Niagara Christian College, Goshen College (Indiana), and Eastern Mennonite College (Virginia), and attained a Bachelor of Arts degree. She chose nursing as a career and graduated as a registered nurse from St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener. Elsie spent two years at Mennonite Children’s Home in Kansas City, Kansas, caring for the medical needs of 70 children.

In 1953 the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities approached Elsie, and asked her establish a leprosarium in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) on the shore of Lake Victoria. Elsie accepted the challenge and was instrumental in turning a no-man’s land of briars, thorns, vines, and rocks into an attractive area of huts, medical dispensary, medical wards, and a chapel surrounded by flowers and fruit trees. After 15 years of leprosy work and attending the births of numerous infants, Elsie enrolled at Mothers’ Hospital in London, England, to become a certified midwife. She returned to Africa and managed a medical clinic on Rusinga Island, Kenya, for three years. She supervised the delivery of over 1000 babies there. She also spent several months inSomalia under the Eastern Mennonite Mission Board.

Upon returning to Canada in the late 1970s, Elsie attended Grace Mennonite Fellowship until her death. She worked at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario, for a time before concentrating her energies on providing midwifery services to those who desired a home birth. She was instrumental in attaining legal status for midwifery in Ontario and was awarded the Order of Ontario for her efforts. She helped establish a birthing center in St. Jacobs, and helped to deliver over 3000 babies. Many Old Order Mennonitesappreciated this service.

Elsie was the subject of a Metamedia television documentary, Return to Africa, in 2010. In 2012, Nancy Silcox wrote Elsie’s biography, Elsie Cressman: A Trailblazing Life, which includes accounts of her shooting a hippopotamus, riding a motorcycle, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Elsie’s strong personality and love for adventure enabled her to pursue goals that were unusual for women of her generation. In 2013, Elsie was inducted into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame.

Founder of the Ontario Old Order Mennonites


Martin Mennonite Meetinghouse (1993) in Waterloo, Ontario, where Abraham Martin was bishop. Photo by Sam Steiner

Many issues helped to create the group called Old Order Mennonites in Ontario. The same issues had affected other parts of the Mennonite Church in North America, especially in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Indeed by the time the Old Order Mennonites identified as such in 1889  in Ontario, there had already been a division in Indiana, and one would soon follow in Pennsylvania.


Abraham W. Martin, the Mennonite bishop in the northern part of Waterloo County, could be identified as the spiritual leader of the Old Order Mennonites in Ontario. His leadership in resisting certain kinds of change, and his refusal to baptize converts who had experienced their change of life in emotional evening meetings, drew the line that separated the groups.

The article in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) can be seen with bibliography at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Martin,_Abraham_W._(1834-1902)

Abraham Weber Martin: bishop and farmer; b. 27 April 1834 near St. Jacobs in Waterloo County, Ontario to John and Anna (Weber) Martin. He was the second son and third child in a family of three sons and nine daughters. On 17 March 1857 he married Elizabeth Bauman (1838-1902). Soon after their marriage they took possession of the farm on which Abraham was born and they lived there the rest of their lives. Abraham and Anna had three sons and seven daughters. Abraham died 8 February 1902. Elizabeth died 30 April of the same year.

Little is known of Abraham Martin’s education, although it was certainly limited to the primary schools of the day. He was said to be of “medium height, well proportioned and rather fleshy,” with a “pleasing countenance” and an easy and dignified bearing.

On 1 September 1861 Joseph Hagey ordained Abraham Martin as the minister for the congregations in the Woolwich Township area north of the village of Waterloo. On 17 September 1867 Hagey ordained Martin as the bishop for these congregations—one of three bishops in the Waterloo County Mennonite community.

Abraham Martin can be considered the father of the Old Order Mennonite movement in Ontario. He corresponded frequently with leaders of the earlier conservative movement in the United States, and he took traditional positions on most of the contentious issues. In the 1870s he called a meeting of ministers and deacons at his home to discuss disputed issues within the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. The conservatives indicated that they would drop their objections to protracted evening meetings and English-language preaching only if Sunday schools were not continued in the conference. Their objections to Sunday schools included the following: 1) Sunday schools promoted associations with other churches that were not nonresistant; 2) teaching was often done from books or materials other than the Bible, and 3) Sunday schools usurped the parental role of teaching their children. This effort at reconciliation ceased, and conservative opposition on all these issues continued. Evening meetings and English preaching also encouraged relationships beyond the Mennonite community, and the emerging Old Order group ultimately rejected these innovations as well.

In 1885 preachers Noah Stauffer and Solomon Gehmen held evening meetings in Woolwich Township, the geographic area in which Abraham Martin was bishop. Thirty persons requested baptism because of their experience in the meetings, but Martin refused to give them instruction or to baptize them because of the nature of these meetings. Bishop Elias Weber later baptized the group, but this quickly led to a more formal schism in 1889 when the two factions within the Mennonite Conference of Ontario held separate annual meetings with their ordained leaders.

Despite his conservative theology, Martin was not as rigid as other conservative leaders. In 1885 he decried the “inflexible” discipline of the Stauffer Mennonites in Pennsylvania.

As bishop of the largest group of Old Order Mennonites in Ontario, Abraham Martin had enormous influence on the first years of the group’s development. He was not a flamboyant, charismatic leader, but he represented the theological views of a high percentage of those in congregations for which he was responsible.

— Sam Steiner