Learning About Mennonites on Church Street, Elmira ON

You’ve probably noticed, I know next to nothing about Old Order Mennonites, or any Mennonites in Ontario, really. But I’m curious! In a brief, whirlwind tour of the Kitchener-Waterloo area this past July, Andrew and I parked our rental car here in Elmira, on Church Street.

This place is fascinating to us because you have the Elmira Mennonite Church…

Right next to the Elmira Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse. It is unadorned by any signage, so I’m getting my information from GAMEO.

The part that fascinated me about this place, was the hitching posts! I don’t think I’ve seen hitching posts anywhere except at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. Well, and also now at Vita because there are now Amish people living in that area. But these! These are the oldest hitching posts I’ve seen, and knowing they’re still in use kind of blows my mind. (I know, I know: my mind is easily blown, apparently. But there you have it.)

I’m thinking these hitching posts must have been here since 1854, because that’s when this meetinghouse was established. I don’t know. Maybe they’ve updated them since.

And OF COURSE we were drawn to the cemetery behind the Old Order Meetinghouse. You can see the Elmira Mennonite Church in the background. Apparently they have shared this cemetery.

So, the location of these two seemingly very different Mennonite churches right next to each other is pretty interesting. My first thought that it might’ve been from a church split… but no. The Old Order meetinghouse was here since 1854, but in 1924 the Conference Mennonites built a church next door.

I like that they agreed to share the cemetery with their new neighbours.

I read that this meetinghouse was established by second and third generation immigrants from Pennsylvania, in 1854. That kind of history blows us Manitobans out of the water.

I noticed there are strawberries growing on the graves. (No, I did not eat them.)

It’s a beautiful spot, and I feel like there’s a lot of history and stories here. It’s too bad we didn’t have a local guide to show us around. I’m sorry we were in such a hurry.