Fast, Jacob W. (1899-1980)

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Jacob W. Fast, 1972. Preservings photo.

Jacob W. Fast, Mennonite justice of the peace, was born on 27 September 1899 in the area of Oak Bush, Manitoba -- a small farming area which lay between Landmark and Isle de Chenes. He was the second of four children born to Gerhard Fast (1877-1904) and Helena Wiebe (1875-1966). At the age of five Jacob lost his father as the result of a tree cutting accident. His mother then moved to Steinbach where she took in boarders to make a living. Refusing to break up the family, Jacob's mother struggled for years to provide for her family. In 1909 she remarried and Gerhard Schellenberg (1885-1917) became Jacob Fast's stepfather and moved the family to a farm. It was not easy for Jacob to live with a stepfather but after eight years Gerhard died of tuberculosis. Jacob was baptized into the Kleine Gemeinde and then married Anna R. Barkman (1902-1970) in 1923. Together they had four children, two sons and two daughters. After Anna died of cancer in 1970, Jacob married Ola Jean Tattray (b. 1909), a Scottish lady he met on a trip to Nova Scotia. 

Jacob W. Fast attended school in Steinbach until grade six. By this time "he knew as much as the teacher" and was ready to start earning a living. One of his earliest jobs was driving a team of horses to pick up supplies in Giroux for his Uncle H. W. Reimer who owned a store in Steinbach. In 1923 Jacob became part owner of a flour mill in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. He earned his papers as a stationary engineer and ran the steam engines in the mill for eight years. He then sold his shares and moved back to Steinbach, Manitoba where he purchased the local telephone exchange located on Main Street. Jacob's responsibilities at the telephone exchange included selling and fixing phones as well as installing new lines. It was around this time that Jacob became the local justice of the peace. Unfortunately this created conflict between Jacob and the church, who believed no one should sit in a position of judgment. When he refused to give up the position he was excommunicated. Jacob carried hard feelings towards the Kleine Gemeinde for years and sent his children to Sunday school at the Bruderthaler Church.

Jacob had many interests and hobbies, including music and hunting. He also loved to travel and became one of Manitoba's first pilots. He even owned his own plane until World War II when all private planes where grounded. In 1943 Jacob retired to a new house he had built on a small acreage on the edge of Steinbach. However he was forced to go back to work after the war ended because of inflation. In addition to still holding his position as justice of the peace he worked for a plumbing and heating company for a while and then did some bookkeeping. It came as a great disappointment when at the age of 70 Jacob was locked out of his office and told he was no longer justice of the peace. This was after being promised for years that his job was secure and they were working at getting him a pension. To make matters worse Jacobs wife, Anna was dying of cancer.

In spite of these set backs in his later years, Jacob was able to make peace with the Kleine Gemeinde church and was also able to enjoy seven years of happy companionship with his second wife, Ola.  Jacob W. Fast, an ambitious hardworking individual who was able to face the challenges of life with a healthy sense of adventure and humor, died of cancer on 13 April 1980.


Toews, Audrey Fast. "Judge Jacob Wiebe Fast (1899-1980)." Preservings No. 9 Part II (December 1996): 17-20.

Author(s) Sharon H. H Brown
Date Published May 2006

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MLA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. "Fast, Jacob W. (1899-1980)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2006. Web. 28 May 2022.,_Jacob_W._(1899-1980)&oldid=91748.

APA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. (May 2006). Fast, Jacob W. (1899-1980). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 May 2022, from,_Jacob_W._(1899-1980)&oldid=91748.

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