York County (Ontario, Canada)
Mennonite interests in York County, Ontario center around the townships of Markham, Whitchurch, and Vaughan, and the city of Toronto. The Markham settlement, about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Toronto, took rise when the Mennonites who came to Waterloo County in 1803 found difficulty with their land titles. In Whitchurch Township the families early met in homes for worship, principally at Huber and Stecklin, named for the pioneering Hoover and Steckley families. Services at Huber and Stecklin ended in 1860, when the church was built at Almira in Markham Township. The Almira congregation was always small, and not fully organized, but considered a part of the settlement of which the Wideman church is the larger part. Henry Wideman, a minister from Bucks County, Pennsylvania came in 1803. Abraham Grove (Groff), a bishop, came in 1808. The first worship and funeral services were held at Dixon's Hill until about 1817, when a log building was erected on the present site of the Wideman Mennonite Church, about two miles (3.2 km) north of Markham, which served as church and school. A brick church was built here about 1857, replaced by a larger one in 1928. The membership of the Markham Mennonite (Mennonite Church) churches was about 200 in the 1950s. Cedar Grove Mennonite Church to the southeast began about 1861, when a frame building was erected for funerals. Monthly appointments soon followed. Near it was the Risser Old Order Mennonite Church, the chief place of worship for this body. The Wideman church was shared by Risser and Wideman groups until 1928. The Almira church was still shared in the 1950s.
In Vaughan Township, west of Markham, the Schmitt meetinghouse was the one place of worship until after 1900. Erected in 1824 it was still in fair state of repair and used for funerals in the 1950s. It was later moved to the Black Creek Pioneer Village. Peter Musselman, a minister, came here in 1803. The Jacob Schmitt family came about 1812. Christian Troyer was a minister by 1836, but soon allied himself with the Daniel Hoch movement. The Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC) and Old Order Mennonite (OOM) movements both made inroads here 1875-1890. (See Wideman Mennonite Church.)
The mission in Toronto (Faith Hope Charity Mission) began in 1907 with Samuel Honderich as superintendent. At first it was located in the slums of the city. After 1914 it was in the eastern part of the city. The work grew to include Warden Park, a new Sunday school and worship center three miles east of the Danforth Mission and three miles (five km) south of the Morningside Mission. These fully occupied areas were served widely by Sunday school, summer Bible school, and preaching services. Four miles (6.5 km) northeast was a slum known as Geco, which Mennonite workers from Ellesmere served until 1955, when it was totally dismantled. Ellesmere was eight miles (13 km) toward Markham and grew from a mission in a small settlement to a large suburban housing area with a commodious Mennonite church erected 1952-54. Organizationally these were all combined in the 1950s. In 1958 Emerson McDowell was bishop, Glen Brubacher and John Hess ministers, with a combined membership of 57.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1007-1008. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Fretz, Joseph C. "York County (Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Y6733.html.
APA style: Fretz, Joseph C. (1959). York County (Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Y6733.html.