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Toews' father-in-law encouraged him to do northern service. Toews
had been in a work camp in Kapuskasing, Ontario, but he was destined
for other things.
day I received a letter from Dad Neufeld which put me in some
internal turmoil. He informed me that because of the war some
of the United Church mission stations on Indian reservations in
northern Manitoba were in need of missionary-teachers. The United
Church office in Winnipeg, possibly through Dad's prompting, had
reached an agreement with the authorities whereby these vacancies
could be filled by Mennonite COs. He suggested that Anna and I
take over such a position. The request posed a new turn of events.
After prayerful consideration I consented. A new adventure loomed
left his alternative service work camp just before Easter.
Easter we made plans and preparations for our move to Poplar River
where we were to take up the position of missionary-teacher. Upon
the recommendation of the Rev. Dr. Cormie of the United Church
office the Department of Vital Statistics issued me a dispensational
certificate to perform marriages and register births and deaths.”
the last week of June, Dad Neufeld, Anna and I boarded the “SS
Keenora” in Selkirk and embarked on a new venture. The unknown
always brings with it a feeling of apprehension, but we saw in
our new avenue of service the leading hand of God and this gave
SS Keenora was a large boat. It dropped them off at Berens River,
a community on Lake Winnipeg. Toews' final destination was Poplar
River, but it did not have proper docking facilities, so they would
have to take a skiff for the final 80 km. J.J. Everett, a man from
Berens River, piloted the skiff.
day after our arrival was a Sunday. J.J. showed me how to handle
a canoe and outboard motor. We took a ride up the river to get
the feel of the canoe, which was to be our main means of transportation
during open water. Mr. Shanks [the previous missionary-teacher]
showed us the church in which I was to hold divine services, and
the school in which I was to teach Indian children the English
language and good Canadian citizenship.”
all too soon, J.J., Mr. Shanks, and Toews' father-in-law left, leaving
Jacob and Anna to explore their new home.
set about to put the house in order and make a home of it. There
was also outside work to be done. I went into the bush and cut
some dry trees for firewood; I dug up the garden plot and planted
some seeds under the watchful eye of the dog, to whom we never
really gave a proper name. Anna tried her hand at baking bread
in the wood stove – with disastrous results. But then we had a
good axe to crack it open. The dog found it quite palatable.”
Jacob and Anna were working as teaching missionaries and not bakers,
this mistake didn't matter.
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