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Elam Martin Farmstead

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The Martins
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A sixth-generation Mennonite family farm
An ariel view of the Elam Martin farm and surrounding land
The Elam Martin farmstead is a sixth-generation Mennonite family farm, presently located on over 4.5 hectares (11 acres) of land incorporated into RIM Park.

In 1820, David Martin, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania, joined a growing number of young Mennonites looking for inexpensive land in Canada. He purchased 181 hectares (448 acres) of land, registered as lot 65 of what was known as the German Co. Tract, from Jacob Wissler. David, his wife Marie (nee Guth), and their 12 children arrived that year and constructed a log house and a barn on the property near a natural spring of water that continues to flow past the farmstead today.

By 1843, David had sold off almost half of his original land. When he died in 1854, his youngest son Jacob assumed ownership of the family farmstead, which by that time comprised 81 hectares (200 acres). Traditionally among Mennonite families, the youngest male inherits the family farm, but in 1920 this tradition was altered when there was no male heir to the Martin acreage. Lydia Martin, who married Menno Martin, inherited the farmstead, by then reduced to 40½ hectares (100 acres). In 1959, Lydia's youngest son Elam took over the operation of the farmstead. He and his wife Erla (nee Lichty) had eight children. Together, they kept up a self-sufficient farm until they sold it in the 1980s.

The City of Waterloo purchased the property in 1999 and continues to explore all options for a long-term plan to preserve this example of a traditional Mennonite farming operation. At present, the Elam Martin family still lives in the home, and park visitors are requested to show courtesy to the family when using the trails near the house.

The Martin farmstead – now 7½ hectares (18½ acres) with 17 buildings – is representative of Mennonite farms in Waterloo County and elsewhere. It evolved in order to answer the needs of old-order farmers, particularly those with large families.
Map of the farmstead
A map of the Elam Martin farmstead
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