Jacob Peter Froese: fruit farmer, churchman and politican; born 21 September 1925 in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada to recent Russian Mennonite immigrant parents, Peter H. Froese (1870-1949) and Elizabeth (Paetkau) Froese (1887-1974). Jake (as he was commonly known) was the third child in the family of three sons and one daughter. In 1948 he married Tina Tjart, daughter of Jacob Tjart (1895-1975) and Maria (Sawatzky) Tjart (1896-1932). They had seven children -- four sons and three daughters.
In 1941, as a 16-year old, Jake moved to the Niagara area in southern Ontario with his parents. He worked at Brights Wines before joining the Canadian military in 1943. He served overseas with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, participating in the liberation of Holland in 1944. He had a Christian conversion experience a few years later that changed the trajectory of his life.
Jake and his wife Tina were baptized on 10 June 1951 by Frank J. Wiens of the Virgil Mennonite Brethren Church, and soon thereafter became involved in a Sunday School outreach to children in the Town of Niagara-the-the Lake, which was the beginning of what led to the founding of the Niagara Christian Fellowship Chapel in 1954. Jake was on the committee that canvassed the Town and he was also one of the teachers at the Sunday School that first met in the Niagara-on-the Lake townhall in November 1951. In 1960 Jake and Tina were ordained to the deaconate for the Chapel. He was active in this church all his life.
After World War Two, he worked as a construction contractor before establishing himself on a fruit farm. The fruit farm became one of the largest family farms in the Virgil-Niagara area by the mid-1980s and was still being operated by his sons and grandsons in 2013.
From a young age, Jake loved to play ball and hockey, and as an adult he followed hockey with a passion. He served on farm boards, hockey associations, and church leadership bodies.
Jake Froese entered local politics when he was elected to the municipal council of Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1968. He served as as a councillor 1968-1972 and as Lord Mayor 1973-1978. For a brief time in 1979-1980, he was a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, representing the riding of Niagara Falls which included Niagara-on-the-Lake. His stint as an MP was short-lived, along with Joe Clark's government, who were defeated by Trudeau's Liberals in the 1980 federal election. Jakes archival papers from his stint as an MP, show that he pursued the concerns of his constiuents on topics such as abortion, Canadian Red Cross, capital punishment and nuclear energy. One report shows significant interest and leadership was given to address environmental concerns about toxic wastes washing into the Niagara River from industrial sites along the river's U.S. shore. As a political leader he hosted world leaders from many countries (England, Botswana, India, Luxembourg, Holland, and Yugoslavia), but the highlight for him, welcoming Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip when they visited Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1973, and event which coincided with the official opening of the Shaw Festival Theatre.
Jake was a volunteer with The Gideons, distributing Bibles and visiting school children to talk about Bibles.
Jake Froese was an example of a man who let his faith committment be the driving source in his life, whether in church work, farming or advocating for the people he represented while in politic.
Bergmann, Helen Reimer, Ebenezer: Virgil Mennonite Brethren Church, 1937-1987. Virgil, Ontario: Virgil Mennonite Brethren Church, 1987: 80-81,121.
Draper, Doug. "A Beloved Former Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Passes Away." (19 Jan. 2013).
"Family patriarch, respected politician dead at 87." Niagara Advance (21 Jan. 2013).
Friesen, C. Alfred. Memoirs of the Virgil-Niagara Mennonites: History of the Mennonite Settlement in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 1934-84 / written and compiled by C. Alfred Friesen for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary jubilee celebration, Oct. 13, 1984. (1984): 97, 152-155.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.05 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2013: #213453.
"Jacob Peter Froese." Mennonite Brethren Herald (1 July 2013).
"Jacob Peter Froese." St. Catharines Standard (18 Jan. 2013).
|Date Published||March 2013|
Cite This Article
Redekopp, Alf. "Froese, Jacob Peter "Jake" (1925-2013)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2013. Web. 2 Feb 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Froese,_Jacob_Peter_%22Jake%22_(1925-2013)&oldid=115085.
Redekopp, Alf. (March 2013). Froese, Jacob Peter "Jake" (1925-2013). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Froese,_Jacob_Peter_%22Jake%22_(1925-2013)&oldid=115085.
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