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The History of Maryhill

The Begin­ning

In 1826 Math­ias Fehren­bach and Joseph Schar­bach arrived from Baden, Ger­many and acquired lands to the south of the vil­lage. They were fol­lowed by Got­tlieb Brohman and Joseph Lauber from Alsace. The Weil­ers, which includ­ed the father, Ignatius (1767–1840), his son Andrew (his wife and their three small chil­dren) and sons Joseph and Ignatius, and daugh­ter Maria Eliz­a­beth of Unzhurst, Baden crossed the Atlantic in 1831 aboard the Duquesne ship to be among Maryhill’s found­ing fam­i­lies. Evi­dence points to a fourth son, Xavier, already being in Mary­hill, pos­si­bly cross­ing in 1829. From 1827 to 1840, of the 48 pio­neer set­tlers to Mary­hill, 36 were from Alsace, France and 12 from Baden, Ger­many.

In 1832 the first school was erect­ed and served on Sun­day as a church. This build­ing had the dis­tinc­tion of being the first Catholic Church north of Dun­das.

Accord­ing to the 1837 cen­sus there were 69 fam­i­lies with a pop­u­la­tion of 307 per­sons in “Roten­burg” lat­er called ‘New Ger­many’. Ger­man lan­guage news­pa­pers some­times referred to it as Neu Deutsch­land. The name was changed to Mary­hill on Feb­ru­ary 10, 1941 at the request of the Cana­di­an Post Office. There is a ‘New Ger­many’ in Nova Sco­tia, and appar­ent­ly mail from over­seas was being mis­di­rect­ed. The Cana­di­an Post Office offi­cials sug­gest­ed two names – “Wavell” after a British Gen­er­al in Egypt and “Gort” after a Com­man­der in the British Forces. The com­mu­ni­ty met under the lead­er­ship of their parish priest, Fr. Fran­cis Diemert, and chose the name Mary­hill with ‘Mary’ cho­sen to rep­re­sent the deep root­ed Catholic faith of the com­mu­ni­ty and ‘hill’ refer­ring to the geo­graph­ic fea­ture that is promi­nent in the vil­lage. Pri­or to 1972, and the for­ma­tion of the old Coun­ty of Water­loo into Region­al Gov­ern­ment, the vil­lage fell with­in the bound­aries of the Town­ship of Water­loo. It is now part of Wool­wich Town­ship.

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