The 200th anniversary of the Brubachers settling in Ontario will be held next week. Combined with the 100th annual reunion hosted by the Brubacher Families of America, the event will occur at the Shantz Mennonite Church in Baden August 5-7.
The Brubacher family – which also includes alternate spellings such as Brubacker and Brubaker – traces its roots to Switzerland in the 1500s, where their ancestors faced persecution during the Reformation. Following a century in France and Germany, Brubachers emigrated to Pennsylvania in the late-1600s and early-1700s. A century later, the first Brubacher Mennonites made their way to what was then Upper Canada.
“There were four that came, and the first one came in 1815. And the next one came in 1825 and then 1828. So we’re sort of ballparking the [200th year], and some of them it’s a little more than 200. For some of them, it’s just a little bit shy of 200,” explained Barrie resident David Brubacher.
Brubachers from Pennsylvania settled across the area that is Waterloo Region today, he said.
“The interesting thing is that all of the ones that came from Pennsylvania were all called John and they were known by their initials. Two of them settled on farms on the Hawkesville Road between St. Jacobs and Hawkesville and a one was settled in Kitchener and one just north of Bridgeport,” he said.
Because the history of the family is extensive, their story of perseverance was based on contributions from many people throughout the centuries, Brubacher added.
According to the Brubacher Families of America, one important ancestral family was that of Maria (Mary) Brubacher who married Benjamin Eby in 1807 and shortly after they began their trek to Upper Canada. Benjamin played a significant role in establishing the first church for Mennonite immigrants in Waterloo County.
This family also played a significant role in the history of Kitchener, helping to establish Ebytown, which was later called Berlin and then renamed Kitchener. Maria was considered the first Brubacher to permanently settle in Canada.
Mary’s brother John also played a significant role. John settled in Waterloo County in 1815 where he bought a plot of land for his son (also named John). The stone house that son John and his wife Magdalena built on this lot is known as the Brubacher House, and still stands as a museum at the University of Waterloo to this day.
Given that the event celebrates two significant anniversaries, it is expected to draw people from across Ontario, the United States and even Germany, David Brubacher said.
“We’ve sort of tacked on this 200 years of Brubachers in Ontario to make it a little more appealing as far as the Ontario people to come out and celebrate. So there’ll be people from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, from Ohio and from Michigan. We have also had word that there’s going to be three coming from Germany,” he explained.