Eden High School (Virgil, Ontario, Canada)

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Eden High School, 1949
Creator: Henry J. Wiens (1885-1975)
Digitized by Hiebert Library. Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies

In 1945 the Bible Society of Virgil decided to add a high school department. Henry Tiessen was called to teach Grades 9 and 10 to 36 students in the crowded homestead where the Bible School also conducted classes.

When enrolment in the high school reached 70 in the second year, Rev. A. Redekop, Annie Wiebe, and D. Boschman helped H. Tiessen instruct Gr. 9, 10, and 11.

In November 1946, Henry Dueck, chairman of the Eden Board, and Henry Tiessen went to Toronto and obtained accreditation for Eden with the Ontario Department of Education.

In 1946 the Society decided to construct a new high school building. They borrowed $25,000 from the Dominion Bank, and $16,000 from Waterloo Trust. Many volunteers helped to clear the bush near the Stone Road, several hundred yards from the Bible School building. Under the direction of Jacob Bartels, the building was completed in the spring of 1947. It contained four classrooms, an office, a chapel and library on the main floor, and a science lab and game room in the basement.

In September 1947, four teachers and 70 students in Grades 9-12 began the school year in a new building. Art Harder joined the staff as math. and science teacher. The first 12 graduates of Eden received their diplomas in June 1948. The Ontario Mennonite Brethren Conference assumed responsibility for both Eden Bible and High School that year. The building debt of $45000 was paid off by the churches within two years.

In 1948, Rev. and Mrs. Isaak Loewen were hired as caretakers and as house parents for the dorm students. The latter were accommodated in the upstairs and rear section of the Bible school building, as well as in a renovated building behind the brick homestead. Students came from as far away as Leamington, Port Rowan, Kitchener and Vineland.

In 1950 teachers were David Neumann, principal, John Thiessen, Louise Wiebe, and Art Harder.

As enrolment increased from 87 in 1950 to 183 in 1955, the conference decided to add 4 more classrooms and a gym-auditorium seating 1200. Total cost of the project was $73000. The school was now named Eden Christian College.

In the 1970s enrolment sky-rocketed to 280 with 71% coming from Mennonite Brethren homes, 18% from United Mennonite families, and 11% from other denominations. The board proceeded to enlarge the school once again. A larger gymnasium equipped with shower rooms, exercise room, and a large foyer was added. The debt of $314000 was paid off within five years.

During the 1960s the average dorm population was around 20, and reached 37 in the 1970s. Most students went home for the weekends. Herman Kroekers, John Klassens, Nick Wiebes, Peter Froeses and others served as houseparents.

Principals at Eden include Henry Tiessen, David Neumann, Rudy Bartel, George Wichert, Ray Ratzlaff, Keith Vrieszwyk, and Ray Smith.

By 1987 Eden's tuition was so high and enrolment had declined to the point that the conference had to make a decision. With the strong encouragement from the public board, Eden was turned over to the Lincoln Board of Education. Now Eden High School continues to operate in St. Catharines, Ontario as an alternate school with a Christian philosophy and staff, but funded by the government. Enrolment keeps climbing with 507 registered in 2000, with 30% coming from Mennonite Brethren homes. The Ontario Mennonite Brethren Conference pays the Bible teachers' salaries and has several members on the school advisory board.

Author(s) C. Alfred Friesen
Date Published January 2002

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, C. Alfred. "Eden High School (Virgil, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2002. Web. 18 Nov 2019. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eden_High_School_(Virgil,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=156024.

APA style

Friesen, C. Alfred. (January 2002). Eden High School (Virgil, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 November 2019, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eden_High_School_(Virgil,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=156024.

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