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The settlement of Old Colony Mennonites from the Hague-Osler area in Prespatou was the third attempt by them to settle in northern British Columbia. The first was in 1940, when the British Columbia and Saskatchewan governments and the Canadian National Railway brought 25 Old Colony Mennonite families from drought stricken areas in the Hague-Osler and Toppingham areas of Saskatchewan to the Burns Lake District. Other families followed in the next few years. These settlers established churches in Cheslatta and Grassy Plains. The families were led by Heinrich Bueckert. He was joined by Johann Martens in 1945, who was ordained to the office of Aeltester in 1946. Eventually the Old Colony Mennonite Church in the Burns Lake area ceased to exist and families relocated to La Crete, returned to Saskatchewan, or immigrated to Bolivia.

A second settlement attempt was made in 1955, when a group of three Old Colony families moved from the Hague-Osler area to Vanderhoof. When they arrived they discovered that the land they desired had already been settled by others.

A third settlement attempt, this time successful, was made in an area north of Fort St. John. From 1953 to 1961, the Old Colony Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan negotiated the lease of land north of Fort St. John so that young families could settle on farms. In the fall of 1961, 86 families from Saskatchewan began to settle in the Prespatou area. Prespatou is a rural agricultural area that is situated about 84 km (52 miles) north of Fort St. John. More families moved to the area in 1962 and 1963. The Old Colony Mennonite families were joined by Mennonites from other churches as well.

The Old Colony Mennonite Church in Prespatou was  formally organized in 1963. Those who relocated from Saskatchewan joined Old Colony families that had relocated to Prespatou in 1958 from the Cheslatta Old Colony Church south of Burns Lake, British Columbia. The Prespatou Old Colony Mennonite Church was built in 1962 near the Prespatou cemetery and later moved in 1964 to the village of Prespatou.  A new larger church was built in 1986 to accommodate the growing congregation. 

The church was led by Aeltester Abram J. Loewen (1898-1977), who was succeeded by Herman Bueckert in 1969. Bueckert retired in 1990 and was replaced in 1993 by Johann Fehr. Soon thereafter, he started a second Old Colony Gemeinde. In 1995, John Bueckert, son of Herman, was elected as Aeltester.

In the early 1970s some families left the Old Colony Mennonite Church and joined the Prespatou Mennonite Church, a Chortitzer Mennonite Conference congregation.

In 2000 children attended public schools, and Sunday schools were a part of the Church. At that time the church had two worship houses, in Reinland and Grünfeld, with 300 members and a total number of 700 souls. In 2010 the church had services in both Low German and High German, and had a membership of approximately 200.

Bibliography

Canadian Mennonite (8 May 1959): 1.

Gutsche, Horst W. "Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Gemeinden und Seelsorger in Kanada." March 2010. Web. 23 February 2012. http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/cms-filesystem-action/pdfs/german-cdn/101217-1.pdf.

Loewen, Robert. "Prespatou Old Colony Mennonite Church" in Old Colony Mennonites in Canada 1875 to 2000, edited by Delbert F. Plett. Steinbach, MB: Crossway Publications, Inc., 2001: 159-161.

Mennonite Reporter (4 April 1977): 17.

Peace River Regional District Rural Official Community Plan. "Prespatou Community Profile." Web. 22 February 2012. http://ruralocp.ca/community_profiles/prespatou.php.

Reimer, Margaret L. One Quilt, Many Pieces. Waterloo, ON: Mennonite Publishing Service, 1983: 42.


Author(s) Richard D Thiessen
Date Published February 2012


Cite This Article

MLA style

Thiessen, Richard D. "Old Colony Mennonite Church (Prespatou, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 23 Sep 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_(Prespatou,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=76604.

APA style

Thiessen, Richard D. (February 2012). Old Colony Mennonite Church (Prespatou, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 September 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_(Prespatou,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=76604.




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