Johannes Sermonds is believed to be the first known person of Anabaptist origin to set foot in what is now Canada.
On 24 June 1584 in the village of Stare Szkoty (Alt-Schottland) near Gdansk, Poland, Johannes Sermonds was born into a Mennonite family who had come from Zeeland, Netherlands. Around 1593 his parents died and he left Poland for Neumühle, Moravia, a centre for the Hutterian Brethren. For the next two years he apprenticed in the coopery profession in Krakow, Poland. At the end, about 1595, he was sent to "India." It is unclear whether this was the West or the East Indies. After a four year sojourn, at about age sixteen, he returned to the Netherlands acting as interpreter for eight "Indians." After staying one year in the Netherlands, the Mennonites at Haarlem sent Johannes back to the Hutterian Brethren at Neumühle.
In Moravia the Hutterian Brethren intrigued by accounts of Johannes Sermonds' travels now began to speculate about settlement in the New World of the West Indies. They sent him to Madrid in Spain to investigate the possibility of settling on an island. He returned after about one year and reported to the Brethren. Now at about age 20, in about 1604, Johannes went to Malbork (Marienburg), Poland, and after three months he traveled to the home district of his parents in Zeeland, Netherlands. Again, after a period of one year, in 1605, he was sent overseas "towards Bonne Esperanse in India." This place is believed to be Bonne Esperance on the Lower North Shore of Quebec, at the mouth of the St. Paul River, an area about 40 km west of the Strait of Belle Isle Harbor. This area, known from earliest European travel to New France, was rich in fish and seals and a good natural habour but on a rather bleak coast.
After about a year Johannes returned to Europe and stayed for three years in Neumühle, Moravia. With Moravia in turmoil over Anabaptist persecutions and war with Turkey, Johannes, ever the traveler, now urged the Hutterian Brethren to send him out to find them a better place to live. He again wandered Europe and ended up on the estate of a nobleman at Elgg, Canton of Zürich. Here on 28 November 1608, at age 24 and for some unexplained reason, Johannes Sermonds received adult baptism in the Reformed church and the pastor recorded his story in the parish register. Why he forsook his Mennonite upbringing and changed his faith is a puzzle. Nothing further, however, is known about him after this.
Friedmann, Robert. "Did the Anabaptists in the Sixteenth Century Ever Contemplate Migrating to America?" Mennonite Quarterly Review 37 (October 1963): 332-334.
Gebhardt, Peter von. Danziger Familiengeschichtliche Beiträge. No.6 (1961): 10-12.
Note: The only source of information on Sermonds is a brief account of his life up to age 24 in 1608 which is recorded in the manuscript book "Pfarrbuch von Elgg, 1547-1657." This article describes the manuscript. There is no other information on Johannes Sermonds and Johannes is only Mennonite or Hutterian Brethren known with the Sermonds name.
"Johannes Sermond." Genealogie der Familie Sehrbundt. Accessed 12 December 2006. http://www.sehrbundt.de/ahnen/d0000/g0000087.html#I019025
 Cite This Article
Wiebe, Victor. "Sermonds, Johannes (b. 1584)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2005. Web. 5 Dec 2013. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Sermonds,_Johannes_(b._1584)&oldid=77733.
Wiebe, Victor. (2005). Sermonds, Johannes (b. 1584). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Sermonds,_Johannes_(b._1584)&oldid=77733.
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