York Chapter

“Annual pioneer suppers over the years have become very popular with a menu…”

At the suggestion and encouragement of Dr. G.E. Reaman, fourteen descendants of the early pioneers in York County met at the home of Mr. N. Smellie and Miss Ella Reaman in Thornhill, September 18th, 1954.

Dr. G. E. Reaman addressed the Meeting and those present decided to organize a chapter to be known as “The York Chapter” of The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario. George Snider was elected President and Annie Stong as Secretary-Treasurer. Charter Members were George Snider, Roland Keffer, Lawrence Keffer, Nelson Smellie, Ella Reaman, Marion Keffer and Annie Stong.

On October 28, 1955, the Chapter held its first York Pioneer Supper at Richmond Hill United Church with an attendance of 120. Dr.G.E. Reaman and Bishop C.F. Derstine, Pastor of the First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, addressed the meeting.

Annual pioneer suppers over the years have become very popular with a menu that reflects a dinner rather than a supper. The Chapter has broken with Pennsylvania German tradition and serve “dinner at night”. The dinner meeting has been instrumental in fulfilling the purpose of the Society to learn more of the early history of the Pennsylvania Germans as well as to interest others in learning about their contribution to York County over the past 200 years. Early meetings featured well documented papers on the history of local communities in the Townships of Markham and Vaughan. These were compiled and printed in Volume 6 and 9 of The Society’s Canadian-German Folklore series. Black Creek Pioneer Village has always received strong support from the Chapter. The Chapter has participated in the annual Pioneer Festival at the Village each September since 1957.

This has involved a cooperative effort, reminiscent of old-time “work bees”. Demonstrations of butchering and the making of sausage, sauerkraut, cider and apple-butter have been carried out in the past. Preparations for the day begin several weeks beforehand when Chapter members spend an evening at the Murray Reesor home to make 80 gallons of sauerkraut and another evening preparing 750 pounds of sausage to have ready for sale at opening time at Pioneer Festival.

Black Creek Pioneer Village has always received strong support from the Chapter. The Chapter has participated in the annual Pioneer Festival at the Village each September since 1957. This has involved a co-operative effort, reminiscent of old-time “work bees”. Demonstrations of butchering and the making of sausage, sauerkraut, cider and apple-butter have been carried out in the past. Preparations for the day begin several weeks beforehand when Chapter members spend an evening at the Murray Reesor home to make 80 gallons of sauerkraut and another evening preparing 750 pounds of sausage to have ready for sale at opening time at Pioneer Festival

Over the years members have participated in the writing of publications for the Canadian-German Folklore Series. In 2004 the York Chapter celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Pennsylvania German settlers in York with the dedication of a plaque at the Bicentennial Monument listing the names of the 69 families who settled in York.

 

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