Holland Marsh Dutch Settlers

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1930
Location: Holland Marsh, ON, Canadamap
Surnames/tags: [[Vandevis-11 | Dr. Ted Vandevis]] Canada Dutch_Roots
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Holland Marsh

by Harry Vander Kooij

A listing of Marsh settlers and residents of Dutch ancestry follows this brief history of the Holland Marsh.

In 1791 Samuel Holland, a major in the British Army and Surveyor General of Upper and Lower Canada, came to survey the area northward from Toronto. The region contained a water route from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay via Lake Simcoe, with a portage west of present-day Aurora. Holland’s name came to be associated with the river that originally drained about 20,000 acres, including the area of the marsh, flowing into Lake Simcoe. The river had a landing at the southeastern boundary of the marsh. Although a corduroy road (logs laid crosswise) and a floating bridge were built between Holland Landing and Bradford in 1824 by Robert Armstrong, the area did not attract early settlement. In places the river’s course was barely discernable from the marsh reeds, which were flanked by swamps and hardwood brush on the higher elevations. John Galt of the Canada Company, a venture attempting to open former crown land to settlement, observed that the area was “a mere ditch swarming with mosquitoes, flies, bullfrogs and water snakes.”

A number of early settlers ventured onto the marshland and attempted to partially drain sections. Peat from such drained areas was used for fuel, or as rich soil for agriculture, but the area remained too wet, so these efforts were abandoned. Still, the idea of using the bog persisted. The plan that came to be favored called for lowering the Washago outlet of Lake Couchiching, north of Lake Simcoe, thereby lowering the water levels of Lake Simcoe and the Holland River, which would allow the Holland Marsh to drain. But shoreline property owners on Lake Simcoe, who anticipated great damage from such a scheme, prevented this idea from progressing beyond the talking stage. The first significant industry on the marsh developed after 1880 with the harvesting of grass and reeds. The hay was much in demand in Toronto and other urban centers as mattress stuffing. Initially strong hands and scythes were used. Later horse-drawn mowers did most of the work. Horses were ferried across flooded areas in flat-bottomed scows. To prevent the horses from becoming mired in the soggy ground, flat boards were strapped across the bottoms of their hoofs. With these the horses could step along, much like someone on snowshoes. This haying business reached its peak about 1915.

A few years previous to this, David Watson, a young farmer from the Scotch settlement, a hamlet just west of Bradford, of which only a Presbyterian church remains, sparked renewed interest in draining the marsh. He was convinced that large parts of the Holland River Valley could be developed into agricultural land once it was drained. He invited William Henry Day, a professor of physics at the Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph) to do some testing in the marsh to ascertain the feasibility of draining. About 1910, after carefully examining the marshland and surrounding watershed, Day concluded that draining some of the marsh was possible without lowering the water level in Lake Simcoe.

Watson’s enthusiasm for the project had a contagious affect on Day. The next year Day built up a small plot of land from one to two feet and planted it with produce. He reported, “All the vegetables matured, the quality being excellent, the celery carrying off the prize at the local fall fair.”

He found that the black muck and organic material was almost identical in composition to the well-known onion lands of Point Pelee, south and east of Windsor, Ontario; the celery land at Thedford, Ontario (west and north of London); and the well-known celery fields of Kalamazoo, Michigan. As a result of these satisfactory results, he was able to form a development syndicate that purchased about 4,000 acres of marshland. In spite of his enthusiasm, Day was not able to convince the nearby municipalities to become involved. When World War I began, the effort was shelved. In 1923 Day resigned from his position at Guelph and moved to Bradford.

He began an energetic campaign to interest the townships of King and West Gwillimbury (the Holland River is their common boundary), the Village of Bradford, and the owners of over 7,000 acres of land in the vicinity in draining the marsh. Following the circulation of a petition, the proposal to drain the marsh was approved under the province’s Municipal Drainage Act. On 16 April 1925 a contract amounting to $137,000 was awarded to the Toronto firm of Cummins and Robinson to drain the marsh. Initial calculation indicated that the cost of the work would be $21 per drained acre. Key to the effort was the digging of a drainage canal around the project area. Plans prepared by Alexander Baird, an engineer from Sarnia, called for a canal 17.5 miles long, with an average depth of 7.5 feet and a width from 38 feet to 70 feet. Excavated material was to be dumped on the marsh side of the canal, wide enough to carry a road. As with many major projects, there were unforeseen complications, and delays were time consuming and costly to overcome. Furthermore, the early economic ill effects of the Great Depression took a toll. But in 1930 the canal project was complete.

During this same time an area of about 200 acres, known as the Bradford Marsh, was diked and drained. Also in 1930, Day had thirty-seven acres under cultivation, on which he had grown lettuce, celery, onions, carrots, and parsnips. These sold for a total of $26,000, or an average gross yield of $702 per acre. These were striking numbers and boosted the professor’s optimism. He had two acres of lettuce maturing each week for eleven weeks and looked forward to the time when Holland Marsh would supply head lettuce for all Canada during the summer season, rather than having to be imported from California and other places in the United States. But, due mainly to complex land entanglements with the ownership syndicate, depressed agricultural conditions due to the economy during the Great Depression, and the general lack of experience of the landowners in muck farming, little progress was made in dividing the land and developing farms. Within a few years many of the plots had been abandoned or taken for tax arrears (non-payment of taxes).

Even before the drainage work promoted by Professor Day began in 1925, the marsh was widely known throughout Ontario for its production of “swamp whiskey.” Police raids rarely ended in arrests, as the moonshiners knew the ways of the swamp and were able to escape the pursuing police officers. Marsh stills reached their peak production period between 1923 and 1928 when all legal sale of liquor was banned in Ontario. In spite of the numerous police raids and eighteen liquor-related deaths, people still came from miles around to buy a jug.

In 1930 John Snor became sufficiently interested in the marsh, so much so that he came to visit Bradford and some people who had started farming. At that time Snor was the representative of the Netherlands Emigration Foundation. Among the Foundation’s mandate was investigating potential settlement locations for Dutch emigrants. During the 1920s several Dutch families had come to Canada. Some had settled in the Hamilton and Chatham areas, where they had found seasonal farm work. As the Great Depression took root, however, such work became scarcer and those who were not naturalized citizens were in danger of being deported if they continued to be a financial burden. Snor sought ways to avert such deportations. Under the federal settlement program and in association with some major landowners he developed a plan to relocate immigrant families to the marsh.

In 1933 he arranged to have 125 acres of undeveloped land subdivided into five-acre parcels and further divided the strip in Concession and King Townships into lots with 50-foot frontage and set aside for houses the settlers would build themselves. He further arranged financing—with each family getting $200 from the federal government, $200 from the provincial government, and $200 from the Dutch government. With this $600 the settlers could make new beginnings. Each would spend $200 on material for a house, a two-story frame structure measuring 16x20 feet; the material was just enough to complete the shell without insulation. Another $200 was used as a down payment to acquire the five acres which was considered a normal-sized market garden in those days. The remaining $200 was set aside for living expenses for the first twenty months. The remainder of the $500 land cost—$95 per acre plus $25 for the house lot—would be paid in the years following.

Snor enrolled fifteen Dutch families, an Englishman, and a German. In June 1934 the men arrived to start developing the land and building their houses. One of the men moved a 20x20-foot hen house section to the marsh from Hamilton, and it became the communal living quarters for about a dozen men, most of who slept on the floor. There were no conveniences; the men used the canal to bathe and wash their clothes. The building materials provided included eleven 8-foot cedar poles for each house which enabled the men to build their dwellings three feet above ground level, a precaution against possible flooding. In the fall the houses were completed to the point where the families could move in. None had running water, which was carried by pail from a community artesian well; an outhouse was built in each backyard.

That first winter was cold and harsh, so cardboard and other materials were used to cover the cracks in the walls to reduce drafts from the cold winds that swept across the open terrain. Stoves were kept red hot by burning tree roots that had been plowed up from what must have been a forest on the site many years earlier. The residents in nearby Bradford were relieved on cold winter mornings when they saw smoke rising from the chimneys of the settlers’ houses.

With spring came the field work. The settlers also decided that their colony needed a name. It was agreed to name it Ansnorveldt—a combination of the Dutch words “aan,” “Snor,” and “veld;” meaning “on Snor’s field.” In a ceremony to mark the official naming, they raised Canadian and Dutch flags and spoke a few words.

An important question that faced the settlers was education for their children. The Glenwith Public School was two and a half miles away, over a road with steep hills, and there were also concerns about their children getting lost in snowstorms, so a school was built on a one-acre lot at the north end of the settlement (today a youth center is on the site). The land was donated and most of the work was done by volunteers. It was completed in time for the start of the school year in September 1935. William Mulock, Postmaster General, was one of the guests present at the official opening of Public School S. S. 26.

For the men in the henhouse in the summer of 1934, Sunday had been a welcome day of rest. In keeping with their Calvinistic background, they adhered to the biblical instruction “six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God, on it you shall not do any work.” And so, for as many as had transportation, they would return to their respective communities. Those who stayed behind conducted their own church services by reading a prepared sermon and singing hymns.

After the houses were completed and the families had moved in, the residents gathered in their homes each Sunday to worship; each home hosting the worship service, in turn. This arrangement came to be known as the “traveling church,” with each person old and young alike required to bring his own chair. That first winter some fifty people crowded into the small houses twice each Sunday, attending services where the men took turns reading Dutch sermons, since they had not yet sufficiently mastered English.

When the floors in their houses began to sag from the weight during the meetings, they knew something had to be done. They did not have much money but, after many collections, a cash balance of $75 was on hand and a loan of $175 was secured with the signatures of a dozen or so men who had little other security to offer. They constructed a 20x20-foot church building on a vacant lot at the south end of the settlement and, on 21 June 1935, dedicated it to the Lord’s service, with Rev. John Balt from Hamilton officiating. The first wedding, on 17 October 1937, was that of Tony Sneep and Nelly Rupke. Sneep was the carpenter of the community; he had taught the men the basics of construction for their houses and was the only worker paid in the building of the school and the church.

In 1938 the Holland Marsh Christian Reformed Church was organized with a membership of eighty-eight people. In 1940 the congregation received its first pastor, Rev. Martin Schans, who had previously served the Christian Reformed Church in Redlands, California. The Holland Marsh church played a cardinal role in the development of the marsh as a community. While difficulties abounded, its members found comfort and courage in the Bible and in the congregation’s fellowship, especially on Sundays; all wrestled with similar problems. Once a year they forgot about work and loaded into trucks and whatever vehicles they had and traveled to Innisfil Beach, on Lake Simcoe, for a picnic, games, and fellowship.

As the community grew, so did the number of children attending the local public school. The public school board included members who did not have the same Christian perspectives on education as the founding members. When enlarging the school building to accommodate growth was to cost the local taxpayers $5,000, some of those in the Reformed faith decided to establish their own school. It would offer the same basic education but with a fundamental difference: it would be Christian rather than public. Most of the adults in the settlement had attended Christian schools in the Netherlands and they desired to have the same spiritual care for their children. A school society was established and in 1942, for $150, a three-acre lot was purchased. Due to the wartime shortage of building materials, however, they could not obtain a building permit. They then obtained permission from the church to rent the consistory room and on 15 February 1943 the school opened with nineteen children. Since that time and several buildings later, the school has grown to about 275 students.

Some have called 1947 the year of the great invasion of the marsh, as in June of that year the first wave of post- World War II immigrants arrived. Ten or more families settled in the marsh as farm help. I was among them—with my parents, one brother, and five sisters. We came over on the Waterman, a troop carrier with no conveniences for family travel. But it was an exciting experience for an eleven-year-old boy wearing coveralls and wooden shoes. Dad, who had been a self-employed market gardener in the Netherlands, went to work in the fields of his sponsors. I also went to work in these fields together with a group of kids ranging in age from ten to fifteen years. We crawled up and down the 2000-foot-long rows of onions and carrots, pulling weeds. When the foreman gave us a break at the end of the row we often engaged in wrestling matches or would see who could jump across the ditch if we were near a wide one.

In 1949 my dad bought one of the original settlement houses which had been enlarged but still stood on its raised foundation of cedar posts. A modest down payment made him the owner of a $2,600 house to accommodate the family which had grown to nine children. During the following years, while he worked for other growers, Dad rented some land which we worked in the evenings. In 1953 Dad thought the time was right to start his own business; he rented fifteen acres. Much of the work was done by hand, his and those of the many other capable members of the family. That year I had a full-time job in the local grocery store (Holland Marsh Groceterias), which provided just enough cash to pay for the family’s groceries. A bumper harvest in the marsh that first year led to very low prices and made for a poor start. The farm income was just enough to pay for the rent, seed, custom work, containers, and other items. Dad returned to his former employer for work during the winter.

Early in 1954 my father bought thirty acres of excellent land without a down payment. This was a very large parcel for that time and it kept us all very busy during daylight hours. In early fall there was a lot of rain which made harvesting very difficult. Then, on Friday, 15 October 1954, everything came to a sudden stop when remnants of Hurricane Hazel roared in and flooded the marsh. The rainfall of more than seven inches was too much for the surrounding canals, which also collected the runoff from the surrounding highlands. The rain, together with the strong northerly winds, prevented the water from its normal flow into Lake Simcoe, causing sections of the dike walls to washout. By late evening, attempts to sandbag and close several gaps were abandoned; all night long the water kept pouring in. People were evacuated and others moved to the second floors of their homes to be rescued by boat the next day. The depth of the water ranged from about two feet at the east end of the marsh, where we lived, to about the ceilings of the houses at the west end. Fuel tanks, crates, outhouses, wagon platforms, houses—anything that could float did. The De Peuter family and our family, then with twelve children, were startled when our houses began to float. To keep the houses somewhat level, we kept running from the low areas to those rising in the bobbing houses. After a few miles’ journey the house lodged against Highway 400. That same night, after bringing my parents and siblings to Bradford, I returned to our house with my buddy who worked for us. We went to bed upstairs, since all work was abandoned. The next morning I looked out and saw a tranquil lake under a bright sunlit sky. The only thing wrong with the view was that houses, barns, trucks, and farm equipment were sticking out of the water.

The big cleanup began shortly after the closing of the breaches in the dike. Pumps were brought in and with twenty-five of them in place, running constantly, they moved 200,000 gallons per day. On 17 November, after nearly four weeks, the marsh was cleared of water. Everyone got involved with cleaning and repairs. Busloads of Mennonites from the Kitchener area tackled some of the toughest jobs. The beautiful late fall weather was ideal for the cleanup and repairs. By spring everyone was ready to get on with the task of working the fields and the relatively normal process of seeding and harvest resumed.

Life goes on in the Holland Marsh, which is the richest vegetable-growing land in Ontario (referred to as the salad bowl of Ontario). Just one acre of this good organic soil will produce nine hundred 50-pound bags of onions, or 1,200 bushels of carrots, or 25,000 heads of lettuce. It has come a long way from the time that Professor Day harvested his first crop and won a prize for his celery at the local fall fair.

With his family, Harry vander Kooij immigrated to Canada in 1947 and the Holland Marsh region became his home. Now retired and living in Barrie, Ontario, his career was with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. This work was first published in the 2006 Volume XXIV - Number 2, "Origins"

Original 17 Holland Marsh Dutch Settlers

The original 17 settlers consisted of the following people:

  1. William Valenteyn;
  2. Jan Rupke;
  3. John van Dyke;
  4. Gerrit Brouwer-1792;
  5. Abraham Havinga;
  6. Harm Prins;
  7. Arie Barselaar;
  8. Marinus van Dyken;
  9. Ties Oosterhuis;
  10. Albert Biemold;
  11. Eeltje de Jong;
  12. Louis Boonstra;
  13. Adrianus (Jack) van Luijk;
  14. Karsjen Miedema;
  15. Simon Winter;
  16. Henry Nienhuis; and,
  17. Jacob van der Goot.

The Store

Henry Nienhuis was the first store owner in the Marsh. He and his wife first sold groceries out of their house in The Settlement and then later built an addition on their house for the store likely around 1940. The store had been called Holland Marsh Groceterias when owned by Cor and Marie Radder in the 1950s to 1961. Radders moved to the end of The Settlement when on February 27, 1961 they sold the store to Gerritje and Marinus van de Vis who renamed it Marsh Food Store and grew the business till 1967. Initially Oshawa Wholesale and then later National Grocers supplied the wholesale groceries to the store. Bob Lollinga was the long-time butcher at the store and lived to be over 99 years old. Lucia and John Warnaar bought the store from the Vandevis' in 1967 and held it till the 1970s. Warnaars later opened a variety store in Queensville. The building still stands in its original location but is in very poor condition. Radders moved to Calgary in the 1970s. Vandevis' moved to the Prins house on Bernhart Road in 1967 and then the Jackson farm in Tecumseth Township in 1968.

Holland Marsh Christian Reformed Church

The following ministers served the Holland Marsh CRC. They include:

  1. Rev. Martin Schans 1940-1945
  2. Rev. John Van der Meer 1946-1951
  3. Rev. Peter Lagerway 1954-1959
  4. Rev. John Hanenburg 1959-1966
  5. Rev. John de Pater 1966-1970
  6. Rev. Peter Breedveld 1970-1973
  7. Rev. Max Lise 1975-1981
  8. Rev. Hendrik Bruinsma 1982-1988
  9. Rev. Brenny van Daalen 1989-2008
  10. Rev. Richard Bodini 2010-2019
  11. Rev. Benjamin Gresik 2020-Present

Holland Marsh CRC

Settlers and Residents of "The Marsh"

  1. Martha Lollinga Baar-20
  2. Ann Barselaar-3
  3. Arie Barselaar-1
  4. Arie Barselaar-2
  5. Betty Beintema-33
  6. Bouke Beintema Fokkens-24
  7. Clarence Beintema-28
  8. Florence Beintema-29
  9. Grace Beintema-30
  10. Hans Beintema-77
  11. Henry Beintema-27
  12. Joanne Hoving Beintema-24
  13. Johannes Beintema-41
  14. John Jr. Beintema-31
  15. John Sr. Beintema-26
  16. Peter Beintema-32
  17. Albert Biemold-3
  18. Eise Biemold-4
  19. Gertrude De Jong Biemold-6
  20. Harmke Biemold Van der Heide-74
  21. Hilda Rupke Biemold-1
  22. Katriena Verrips Biemold-9
  23. Dena Bierling-22
  24. Dick Bierling-6
  25. Henry Bierling-5
  26. Louwe Bierling-8
  27. Maartje Bierling Bolt-342
  28. Pieter Bierling-7
  29. JoyAnna Bodini-3
  30. Philip Bodini-2
  31. Rev. Richard Bodini-1
  32. Jean Boneschansker Miedema-230
  33. Robert Boneschansker-8
  34. Steve Boneschansker-11
  35. Ann Boonstra-142
  36. Bert Boonstra-146
  37. Henry Boonstra-144
  38. James Boonstra-147
  39. Lieuwe (Louis) Boonstra-140
  40. Lydia Guldemeester Boonstra-145
  41. Maaike Boonstra-453
  42. Marie Boonstra-143
  43. Tietje Boonstra Mozes-15
  44. Joh Brands-97
  45. Gertrude Brands Van Luyk-6
  46. Michael Brands-154
  47. Wendy Vandertol Brands-104
  48. Rev. Peter Breedveld-30
  49. Casey Brouwer-613
  50. Cornelis (Kees) Brouwer-608
  51. Daniel Brouwer-614
  52. Gerben "George" Brouwer-960
  53. Gerrit Brouwer-1792
  54. Jannetje Brouwer-611
  55. Johanna Toorenaar Brouwer-610
  56. John Brouwer-1794
  57. Martha Brouwer-1793
  58. Peter Brouwer-612
  59. Rev. Hendrik Bruinsma-49
  60. Jim Buys-890
  61. Peter Buys-850
  62. Maria Havinga Colenbrander-84
  63. Wilhelmina Winter De Boer-539
  64. Albert De Jong-2946
  65. Eeltje De Jong-897
  66. James De Jong-2947
  67. Klaas De Jong-1843
  68. Harriet Bierling De Jong-916
  69. John De_Jong-3510
  70. Martinus De Jong-898
  71. Teresa (Tess) De Jong-899
  72. Marie DeJong-52
  73. Alice De Pater-9
  74. Alice De Pater Teunissen-136
  75. Bea De Pater-7
  76. Jan (John) De Pater-8
  77. James De Pater-10
  78. Rev. John De Pater-5
  79. Margo De Pater-6
  80. Stephen De Pater-11
  81. Tjitske De Jong de Vries-832
  82. Albert Eisses-6
  83. Carl Eisses-10
  84. Ed Eisses-8
  85. Harry Eisses-4
  86. Henry Eisses-7
  87. John Eisses-5
  88. Larry Eisses-9
  89. Ron Eisses-11
  90. Fred Engelage-85
  91. Margaret Engelage-143
  92. Jane Buys Engelage-145
  93. William (Bill) Engelage-133
  94. Elze Van Hemert Essselink-1
  95. Johanna "Hannie" Van Dyke Eygenraam-1
  96. Saapke Nicolay Ferwerda-62
  97. Wytska "Winnefred" Brouwer Ferwerda-75
  98. Frank Flach-42
  99. Gea Flach Bos-804
  100. Harry Flach-64
  101. Irene Flack-1006
  102. Tom Flack-1005
  103. Boukje Beintema Fokkens-24
  104. Benjamin Gresik-1
  105. Danny Guldemeester-2
  106. John Guldemeester-1
  107. Pat Hagan-1598
  108. Timon Hagan-425
  109. Agnes Kramer Hamstra-106
  110. Dorothy Hamstra-101
  111. Frances Hamstra-105
  112. Hank Hamstra-102
  113. Jacob Hamstra-100
  114. Lena Weber Hamstra-103
  115. Shirley Hamstra-104
  116. Ann Hanemaayer-13
  117. Annette Hanemaayer-12
  118. Bert Hanemaayer-10
  119. Bram Hanemaayer-8
  120. Catharine Hanemaayer-11
  121. Jacqueline Hanemaayer-9
  122. Jennie Stevens Hanemaayer-2
  123. Catharine (Cathy) Holtrop Hanenburg-5
  124. Irene Hanenburg-9
  125. James Hanenburg-8
  126. Rev. John Hanenburg-4
  127. Rick Hanenburg-6
  128. Ted Hanenburg-7
  129. Abraham Havinga-29
  130. Corrie Miedema Havinga-71
  131. Johanna Havinga-32
  132. Jean Eisses Hessels-48
  133. Rudy Heydens-4
  134. Klasiena Hamstra Hofman-1015
  135. Anita Sikma Horlings-14
  136. Ann Horlings-10
  137. Bill Horlings-2
  138. Brenda Horlings-8
  139. Catriene Horlings-9
  140. Elsie Horlings-1
  141. Elsie Horlings-28
  142. Frank Horlings-39
  143. Jane Horlings Maan-8
  144. Jean Horlings-37
  145. John Horlings-40
  146. George Horlings-13
  147. Harry Horlings-6
  148. Harry Horlings-12
  149. Henry Horlings-41
  150. Kevin Horlings-45
  151. Kimberley Horlings-47
  152. Michael Horlings-46
  153. Murray Horlings-42
  154. Rick Horlings-4
  155. Tim Horlings-44
  156. Tom Horlings-38
  157. Trien Horlings-7
  158. Walter Horlings-43
  159. Wolter Horlings-5
  160. Bas Hoving-53
  161. Bill Hoving-59
  162. Elizabeth Hoving-62
  163. George Hoving-56
  164. Harry Hoving-54
  165. Jane Hoving-60
  166. Jean Hoving-57
  167. John Hoving-61
  168. Markus Hoving-55
  169. Mike Hoving-63
  170. Suzanne Visser Hoving-58
  171. Bob Hovius-7
  172. Jake Hovius-6
  173. Jeanette Hovius-9
  174. Ninka Hovius Storm-865
  175. Rob Hovius-11
  176. Sid Hovius-8
  177. Ann Louis Huizingh-7
  178. Larry Huizingh-8
  179. Lambert Huisingh-6
  180. Alice Hyma-18
  181. Bob Hyma-19
  182. Dick Hyma-20
  183. Rudy Hyma-22
  184. Frank Janse-229
  185. Jim Janse-233
  186. John Janse-232
  187. Patricia Jansma-216
  188. Albert Keep-247
  189. Greta Keep-248
  190. Harmina Kiers Katerberg-10
  191. Kars Kiers-14
  192. Winnifred (Win) Knight Kiers-16
  193. Jo-Ann Meyer Kallenbach Kiers-20
  194. Mary Schoemaker Kapteyn-26
  195. Tietje Miedema Kloosterman-30
  196. Rev. Peter Lagerwey-1
  197. Ralph Lise-7
  198. Rev. Max Lise-4
  199. Bauke (Bob) Lollinga-1
  200. Hedy Van Dyke Matthews-3842
  201. Jean Matthews-10351
  202. Casey Mennega-3
  203. Clarence Mennega-4
  204. Shirley Mennega-5
  205. Ann Andela Miedema-278
  206. Art Miedema-276
  207. Ann Miedema-307
  208. Audrey Miedema-193
  209. Charles Miedema-210
  210. Charley Miedema-197
  211. Charlie Miedema-198
  212. Corrie Miedema-315
  213. David Miedema-213
  214. Ed Miedema-205
  215. Elisabeth Miedema-306
  216. Faye Willeboordse Miedema-190
  217. Frank Miedema-192
  218. Grace Horlings Miedema-280
  219. Griet (Grace) Miedema-200
  220. Ina Vaandering Miedema-277
  221. James Miedema-201
  222. Jim Miedema-336
  223. Jean Boneschansker Miedema-230
  224. Joanne Miedema-199
  225. Joanne Colangelo Miedema-212
  226. John Miedema-207
  227. Karsjen Miedema-214
  228. Karsien Miedema-333
  229. Kathleen Miedema-204
  230. Kenneth Thomas Miedema-273
  231. Klaske Visser Miedema-236
  232. Klaaske Vander Kooij Miedema-222
  233. Mary Ann Miedema-334
  234. Michelle Miedema-206
  235. Rachel Miedema-203
  236. Sid Miedema-279
  237. Sid Miedema-308
  238. Sidney Miedema-189
  239. Simon Miedema-211
  240. Terri Mozes Miedema-208
  241. Thelma Miedema-335
  242. Theo Miedema-202
  243. Wally Miedema-228
  244. Tom Miedema-332
  245. Wiebe (Walter) Miedema-188
  246. Winnie Jaques Miedema-209
  247. Ann Mozes-31
  248. Gary Mozes-22
  249. Gerrit Mozes-30
  250. Jim Mozes-16*Tietje Boonstra Mozes-15
  251. Bertha Hanenburg Mouw-9
  252. Katie Rupke Mulder-679
  253. Haye B. Nicolay-23
  254. Peter Nicolay-24
  255. Edgar Niebuur-4
  256. Jeanette Niebuur-7
  257. John Niebuur-1
  258. Julia Niebuur-8
  259. Mary Niebuur-5
  260. Patricia Niebuur-6
  261. Rita Niebuur-2
  262. Rita Summers Niebuur-3
  263. Henry Nienhuis-149
  264. Akke Van Dyke Nieuwhof-27
  265. Rita Biemold Nunnikhoven-2
  266. Bill Nydam-4
  267. Charlie Nydam-1
  268. Elsie Nydam-2
  269. Jean Nydam-5
  270. Shirley Ann Nydam-3
  271. Allan Oosterhuis-94
  272. Anne Oosterhuis Unknown-543030
  273. Gary Oosterhuis-145
  274. Gertie Van Luyk Oosterhuis-89
  275. Grietje Oosterhuis Boneschansker-7
  276. Jack Oosterhuis-144
  277. Stoffer Oosterhuis-92
  278. Stuart Oosterhuis-93
  279. Ties Oosterhuis-91
  280. Rev. Dr. Tom Oosterhuis-143
  281. Hester Oussoren-21
  282. Jeanette Van de Ruitenbeek Oussoren-19
  283. Klaas Oussoren-20
  284. Grace Post-969
  285. George Postema-18
  286. Harm Prins-154
  287. Henrietta Prins-153
  288. Herman Prins-156
  289. Penny Prins-551
  290. Winifred Prins-155
  291. Andrew Radder-4
  292. Cornelis Radder-11
  293. Cornelius Radder-5
  294. Cornelius Radder-8
  295. Christina Radder-46
  296. Darlene Radder-43
  297. Diana Radder-3
  298. Henry Radder-45
  299. Leanne Radder-47
  300. Nancy Radder-6
  301. Neil Radder-44
  302. Patricia Radder-42
  303. Paul Radder-7
  304. Florence Brouwer Rothman-141
  305. Alvin Rupke-28
  306. Donald Rupke-29
  307. Erick Rupke-30
  308. Jan Rupke-26
  309. John Rupke-27
  310. Rev. Marten Schans-6
  311. Neltje (Nelly) Sneep Brands Rupke-35
  312. Sierk Rupke-25
  313. Johanna Barselaar Schouten-634
  314. Gezina C. Keep Unknown-402639
  315. Riek Van Mazyk Sikma-6
  316. Anne Vandekuyt Sneep-8
  317. Jantje Herman Bierling Sneep-4
  318. Anne Marie Sneep-8
  319. John Sneep-9
  320. Neil Sneep-5
  321. Tony Sneep-3
  322. Frank Speziali-1
  323. Jim Speziali-4
  324. Linda Speziali-2
  325. Nancy Speziali-3
  326. Albert Stevens-5191
  327. Annette Vandevis Stevens-5190
  328. William (Bill) Stevens-6605
  329. Ann Tjepkema Vlas-1
  330. Betty Tjepkema-22
  331. Christine de Faria Tjepkema-24
  332. Dorothy Farrell Tjepkema-21
  333. Gary Tjepkema-18
  334. Henny Popadynec Tjepkema-19
  335. Janie Whiteman Tjepkema-23
  336. John Tjepkema-20
  337. Sidney Tjepkema-17
  338. Nellie Toorenaar-5
  339. Willem Toorenaar-1
  340. Jacob Uitvlugt-2
  341. Jacob Uitvlugt-3
  342. Kitty Uitvlugt-5
  343. Peter Uitvlugt-4
  344. Eelkje van der Goot-7
  345. Jacob van der Goot-6
  346. Jacob van der Goot-10
  347. Linda van Voorst van der Goot-9
  348. Ted van der Goot-8
  349. Wilma Oosterhuis van der Goot-5
  350. Elsje De Jong Van der Heide-32
  351. Harmke Biemold Van der Heide-74
  352. John VanderMeer-727
  353. Rev. John Van der Meer-174
  354. Klaaske De Jong Vander Meer-416
  355. Limke Rupke Van der Veer-35
  356. Audrey Van Dyk-301
  357. Gloria Van Dyk-302
  358. Karen van Woudenberg Van Dyk-303
  359. Mark Van Dyk-304
  360. William (Bill) Van Dyk-300
  361. Andrew Van Dyke-1324
  362. Albert Van Dyke-366
  363. Bob Van Dyke-369
  364. Debbie Van Dyke-411
  365. Eleanor Van Dyke-368
  366. Faye Van Dyke-410
  367. Glenda Van Hemert Van Dyke-367
  368. Hannie Van Dyke-382
  369. Dr. Janice Van Dyke-343
  370. John Van Dyke-363
  371. Kevin Van Dyke-412
  372. Richard Van Dyke-1323
  373. Sid Van Dyke-342
  374. Terry Van Dyke-371
  375. Wally Van Dyke-370
  376. Wopke Van Dyke-364
  377. Betsy Van Dyken-40
  378. Beverly Van Dyken-59
  379. Celina Horlings Van Dyken-46
  380. Ed Van Dyken-56
  381. Frances Van Dyken-57
  382. Jake Van Dyken-64
  383. John Van Dyken-41
  384. Lynn Van Dyken-58
  385. Marinus Van Dyken-34
  386. Marvin Van Dyken-39
  387. Murray Van Dyken-42
  388. Murray Van Dyken-48
  389. Peter Van Dyken-38
  390. Susan Lise Van Dyken-47
  391. Wiert Van Dijken-82
  392. Alex Van Hemert-22
  393. Audrey Van Hemert-18
  394. Christine Van Hemert-16
  395. Harry Van Hemert-24
  396. Irene Van Hemert-20
  397. Jacobus Van Hemert-23
  398. Jim Van Hemert-15
  399. John Van Hemert-25
  400. Nelly Van Hemert-19
  401. Sara Van Hemert-21,
  402. Adrianus (Jack) Van Luijk-2
  403. Adrian Van Luyk-1
  404. Greta van Luyk-9
  405. Irene van Luyk-7
  406. Peter van Luyk-2
  407. Doreen Hainsworth Van Mazyk-3
  408. Janet Van Hemert Van Mazyk-2
  409. John Van Mazyk-1
  410. John Anthony Van Mazyk-2
  411. Ann Van Schepen-23
  412. Dave Van Schepen-21
  413. Joanne Van Schepen-22
  414. Rev. Brenny VanDaalen-1
  415. Harry Vander Kooij-1
  416. Neeltje (Nelly) Van Hemert Van der Kooij-87
  417. Audrey Van der_Kooij-433
  418. Corrie Van_der_Kooij-432
  419. Sara Vander_Kooij-430
  420. William Valenteyn-1
  421. Geraldine (Gerry) Noordegraaf Vandevis-10
  422. Marietta Stevens Vandevis-15
  423. Marinus van de Vis-11
  424. Dr. Theodore (Ted) Vandevis-11
  425. William (Bill) Vandevis-12
  426. Luktje Van Dyken Veld-15
  427. Trudy Verheul-35
  428. Gerritje Vandevis Verhoog-2
  429. Elizabeth Verkaik-21
  430. Al Verrips-8
  431. Dick Verrips-36
  432. Helen Verrips-35
  433. Agnes Visser Unknown-422620
  434. Lisa Visser-874
  435. Sam Visser-868
  436. Peter Visser-3773
  437. Taeke Visser-1936
  438. Taeke Visser-873
  439. Tena Visser-2628
  440. Bas Visser-1937
  441. Bastian Visser-2217
  442. Bastiaan Visser-1715
  443. Carol Visser Miedema-236
  444. Jim Visser-3772
  445. Mike Visser-3775
  446. Valerie Visser-2220
  447. Wayne Visser-2219
  448. Zoetje Visser Van Elderen-2
  449. Helena Brouwer Vogel-582
  450. Cindy Bodini Vording-1
  451. Harry Warnaar-11
  452. Johannes (John Sr.) Warnaar-8
  453. John Jr. Warnaar-13
  454. Kim Warnaar-14
  455. Lucia Warnaar-15
  456. Lucille Warnaar-12
  457. Albert Wierenga-56
  458. Yvonne Wierenga-57
  459. Jake Wierenga-58
  460. Michelle Wierenga-60
  461. Richard Wierenga-59
  462. Dorothy Miedema/Middel Winter-1739
  463. Jacob Winter-4905
  464. Simon A. Winter-1740

One Place Study

This study has been registered with the global One Place Studies site and can be found at Ontario One Place Studies

My Canada... Growing up in the Holland Marsh

Another biographical story is now told by another resident of the Marsh:

LIFE My Canada... Growing up in the Holland Marsh By Walter Prokopchuk, Special to the Bradford Times Monday, April 17, 2017 2:12:13 EDT PM

You could say that my parents were pioneers, for like many of the other original settlers in the Marsh, like the Kanyos and the Verkaiks, they acquired their farmland and developed the virgin soil into a thriving family business.

This was manual, back-breaking work, for most of the immigrants could neither afford the cost of the the then “modern machinery”, nor was that equipment nearly as efficient as today's technology.

The farmhouse that our Dad built fronted on a back road – which meant that my brother and I had to walk across the 1,500' long field (half a kilometre) to catch the school bus on Canal Road. In winter, we walked on metre-high snow drifts. During spring and summer we trudged through mud. We waiting on the road's shoulder with our Gorecki and Jagodics neighbours, and our bus driver was Webb Orr.

During those 13 years that I rode that same bus piloted by that same driver, we slid off the road once on an icy hill on the 5th Line, with no injuries to anyone. Back then, there were no modern phenomenon like “snow days.”

Our elementary school was Scotch Settlement No. 4, located in the country at the corner of Line 5 and 10 Sideroad. The one-room, 8-grade school house was organized and disciplined by our teacher, Dorothy Turner, and kept heated and clean by neighbouring farmer John Lloyd.

On warmer days we walked home before the bus was scheduled to pick us up. Our course took us eastward along Line 5, stopping along the way to gorge ourselves on the apples in Clarence Baynes' orchard – cutting south through the abandoned gravel pit, crossing the canal over the rickety Sutherland bridge, finally walking westward for the remaining 4K along Canal Road to home.

Indoor plumbing was not yet affordable in our neighbourhood; our outhouse accommodated our toileting needs. Every Saturday afternoon witnessed my brother and I quickly have our weekly bath, in a 1 metre diameter round steel tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. Mother drew the water from the outside well and warmed it on the wood stove. Being I was the younger brother, I was always second to share the same bathwater. Thankfully, we had upgraded to electricity, from kerosene lamp light.

We were in the Township of West Gwillimbury. In the Village of Bradford, Holland St. was gravel, and the occasional pothole revealed the underlying corduroy (log ) road. Holland was the main street,where most of the commercial shopping was located in “downtown” Bradford, when Joe Magani was its first elected Mayor.

Mother drove us to Town to shop for the next week's groceries at Compton's IGA, medicine at Ritchie's Drug Store, tools and nails at Barron's Hardware, other items at Bannerman's 5¢ to $1 Department store.

Law and order was maintained by Police Chief Jim Hastings and Constables John Dudgeon and Jim Thompson. The Fire department was made up entirely of resident volunteers like Ed Gapp and Roy Saint.

Doctors Gilbert Blackwell and Stephen Hecking looked after our medical needs. Charlie and Brock Evans ran the local lawyers' office, and Ken Tupling looked after our insurance. Ruth Yarmoluk and Rita Alebeek were two of the tellers who served the customers at the Bank of Commerce.

Next to the current Village Inn was Rees' Theatre. We could purchase our 10 cent movie ticket from Linda Spence. Once inside, another dime could get us a box of popcorn, or an ice cream bar or pop from the refreshment concession – our parents' occasional reward to us for working in the fields during our summer school break.

1954 brought us Hurricane Hazel. Like most families, we were forced to abandon our house in the Marsh to reside on higher ground in Bradford. The Willis family generously took us in and made us feel right at home. Eventually, we were transferred to our own accommodations in the trailer camp, on the current site of the Bradford Community Centre on Simcoe Rd.

For me, those were the “good old days.” We were trained to work hard and respect our elders; we learned the value of a dollar and knew how to behave in public. We survived without fancy toys and gadgets – and one pair of pants either sufficed for the entire school year, or was outgrown – and yes, I wore hand-me-down shirts and shoes, and learned to ride on my brother's old bicycle.

We are now known as the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury and, sadly, most of the above mentioned folks are deceased – but not forgotten, because it was the unrelenting determination of the people of that day that built the foundation of this area. Their children and grandchildren have honourably accepted the torch of responsibility, to keep our town both a safe and economically-thriving community. We pay tribute to those residents in the name of our parks, arenas, streets and other landmarks. Fuller Heights. Bob Fallis Sports Centre. Langford Blvd., and more. We thank them all, past and present.


  1. Vandevis, T. (2014). Personal recollections. Barrie, ON, Canada.
  2. Vander Kooij, Harry, (2006). Holland Marsh, Origins, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
  3. VanderMey, A. (1994). And the Swamp Flourished. Vanderheide Publishing Co. Ltd. Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
  4. Vandevis, Dr. Ted, (2014). Trent Lakes, Canada.
  5. Bradford Times. My Canada: Growing up in the Holland Marsh
  6. www.calvin.edu/
  7. Oosterhuis, Rev. Dr. Tom (2021) Personal Recollections of over 100 Marsh residents facilitated contextual familial relationships.

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As of Mar 2, 2021 500 residents of the Marsh have been identified. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Tom Oosterhuis for helping to identify contextual familial relationships for about 100.
posted by Dr. Ted Vandevis
As of Dec 7, 2019 431 Holland Marsh founders and residents of Dutch heritage have been identified and listed in this "One Place Study."
posted by Dr. Ted Vandevis
Hi Ted,

Sorry it took a while but I started a G2G for the Sticker for you now ;) wishing you a very happy and healthy 2019 and see you this weekend eeh :)

Bea x

posted by Bea (Timmerman) Wijma
Hi Ted,

Not sure if there are many profiles who where Marsh Settlers, but perhaps you would like a Sticker you can add to those profiles linking to your free space page and perhaps a category for Marsh Dutch Settlers ?


Bea :)

posted by Bea (Timmerman) Wijma
Aw you wouldn't have messed it up by adding it to the portal yourself. * Holland Marsh Dutch Settlers A free space managed by Dr. Theodore Vandevis is all you needed to add
posted by Melissa McKay