Reesor is the site of one of northern Ontario’s many former agricultural colonies – in this case, one founded by Mennonites.
Thomas Reesor, an Old Order Mennonite Minister from Markham, Ontario who was employed by the railway, helped settle a number of Russian Memnonite refugees in Northern Ontario. In July 1924, many families decided to travel north and establish a settlement in northern Ontario on land offered by the Canadian Government. The group, accompanied by Thomas Reesor, made the train journey north to their new settlement in the wilderness west of Kapuskasing. The settlement was officially named “Reesor” in recognition of Thomas Reesor, it’s benefactor and founder.
The Reesor United Mennonite congregation began services about 1926, and formally organized in May 1927. Jacob H. Janzen is considered the founding leader of the group.
The settlement was situated along the Trans-Canada highway west of Cochrane, Ontario. It was organized in a traditional Russian Mennonite manne. The settlement initially prospered, reaching a membership of 75 in 1932, but declined rapidly during the Depression. The congregation dissolved on January 5, 1948.
In 2007, the hardships faced by the colonists at Reesor were made into a play, named Reesor, that featured at Fringe Festivals across Canada.
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Just finished reading the book about Reesor by John H Enns. It’s really incredible the amount of work they did to carve out a corner of Ontario for themselves. I think there’s something in my blood that draws me to that area., submitted some photos to this website from a trip to Fraserdale and Otter Rapids years ago, and here I am again after trying to find more information on Reesor.
I plan to go there in sept of this year. If anyone has ANY info they could share that could help me find Reesor, in particular the cemeteries, store locations, old right of ways, maps or photographs feel free to email me at email@example.com. All I have is John H Enns’ hand drawn maps accurate to 1973. I’d be more than glad to share any info I have.
My thanks to whoever runs this site!
I moved into the TCPL station when the eight homes were finished in Oct/Nov ’59
and commuted to Kap for high school along with 6 grade school kids. The following year due to community action the Reesor school was opened with a German teacher who lived in the community (think enormous tax base). Parents were horrified to give up the enormous advantages of Kap, until they discovered what a wonderful education their kids were receiving in a one-teacher school! In the ’60s. I’m sure as these students matured the school population dwindled until the closure mentioned.
No that land is not being farmed anymore. I remember my sister and I cooking lunch for Mr Nordahl and the young guys ( brother & friends ) who were helping him with haying
I went to Reesor School for Grades 1 and 2. This was around 1964-65. John Enns was the teacher at the school. Pentalons and Solomons kids attended, Henry Rempel was our bus driver. We lived at the TCPL station about 3 miles west. Its a long time gone, but still a strong memory of a one room school in the bush! The school closed and we went to Kap thereafter.
I lived in Reesor for the first 16yrs of my life ( Roetscher) and it’s sad the only thing that’s ever written about is the Reesor Siding “incident”. At that point pretty well everyone had left. There was so much more to Reesor than that. A community of hard working people trying to make a living in this difficukt part of Ontario.Many would not have stayed as long as they did.
My great grandparents (Rempels) were Russian Mennonites that were part of the original group that settled in Reesor. I have pictures of their time up there before they moved south. My mom’s sister was born in Reesor and my mom was born in Hearst.
My mother was born in Reesor, her parents were Frank Janzen and Olga Rempel. I just received a number of unbound papers written by Mr Enns the school teacher. fascinating story
Does anyone know if the Peter Nordal’s farm just north of Reesor is still in operation? He and his wife raised sheep there in the ’60’s.