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Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Biographies and Obituaries

NEUFELD, Kornelius K.

Community Portrait — Kornelius Neufeld
Chilliwack Progress Wednesday August 14th, 1957

When a small business in Yarrow opens its door to its staff in the morning, one quiet man steps inside and starts working. When it closes again in the evening, which more often than not, is long after dark, that same gentleman steps out and locks the door in the same manner which he had been doing for 12 years.

When Kornelius Neufeld enumerated the total years he has spent in the printing business and found them to be 26, he surprisedly grinned, "I didn't realize they were that many". One oddity is that several unhappy situations brought Mr. Neufeld to his present occupation as printer in Yarrow.

After finishing schooling in Russia equivalent to a North American high school graduation, Mr. Neufeld began teaching. When Communist influence stepped in, he decided to work on the farm instead because, as he put it: "It was no use teaching".

Mr. Neufeld was drafted into the army when the civil war broke out in Russia and was able to come to Canada in 1930 when wounded in action. Since then he has been wounded in action again. This time, however, it was while working with the linotype machine in his shop — he took the tip of one finger off.

Mr. Neufeld first got into printing work the year after he came to Canada when his brother-in-law, who operates a printing business in Winnipeg, offered him a job. Coming here during the depression, Mr. Neufeld struggled through his job with a one dollar a day wage starting with composition work. By observation and practice, he learned to operate a linotype. It was actually his father's death that first brought him to Yarrow. "I came to my father's funeral here and liked the country very much."

Mr. Neufeld has always had his little 22 x 34 foot shop at the present site on the corner of First and Central streets in Yarrow. He started out in 1945 with the present linotype machine and two hand-fed presses. Since then he has added an automatic press which takes 12 x 18 sheets and also has added a paper cutter bigger than his original one.

Mr. Neufeld does most of his work by himself, occasionally employing part-time help to fold papers. However, his wife and three boys at home help out a lot in this respect.

He would like to see his boys take an interest in printing and take over someday. He finds, however, the boys aren't too enthusiastic — ."Maybe they're still too young," he says. "In the past few years I have sometimes thought of retiring, but I think I'll keep working as long as I can. I enjoy my work," he commented.

Mr. Neufeld enjoys good music, not jazz. He used to play the violin in the old country, but since coming to Canada he finds he hasn't time. His whole family is interested in music. One of the oldest sons, Herman is an accomplished violinist and Ernie, 13 also plays the violin. Benny, 11, plays the piano as does Vic, who is eight years old.

The three boys at home keep up the Neufelds one and one-half acres of raspberries. The berries were acquired when the Neufelds came here because they found that printing alone wasn't enough to keep them going. Since then, however, it has grown to almost too large an undertaking for a single man.

The long hours are the only factor which Mr. Neufeld marks as unfavourable about his job. It is not an uncommon occurrence for someone passing Mr. Neufeld's shop around midnight to hear his linotype machine clicking steadily.

He often finds it difficult to meet some customer's deadlines —"But I do it gladly, as long as I can," he insists. However, most of his work is commercial printing.

The Neufeld's enjoy travelling and although his work keeps him fairly busy all year round, Mr. Neufeld and family plan to take a breather during the summer slack period for a trip to California beginning next week.

Kornelius Neufeld is one of the quiet, respected gentlemen of the community who goes out of his way to help all people. "Printer Neufeld" as he is known to fellow Yarrow citizens, is contented, happy and proud of his little business. —E.H.

Kornelius K. Neufeld, printer; born January 22, 1898 in Nikolajevka (Kronstadt) No. 5, Ignatjevo, Russia, to Kornelius and Susana (Unrau) Neufeld. Kornelius married Anna Neufeld, (b.1901) on June 13, 1920, in Nikolajevka; the couple had 5 children, two of whom died as infants. Anna passed away suddenly in 1942, and in 1943 Kornelius married Kathryn Regehr (1908-1996) in Winnipeg; they had three children. In 1945 they moved to Yarrow, B.C., where he established Columbia Press, which proved to be a successful business for 30 years, until his retirement at age 75.

Kornelius attended elementary and secondary school in Nikolajevka, and subsequently completed a four-year program in Commerce School (Kommerzschule) at Barvenkovo. In 1919, he was conscripted into the White Russian army, where he served as a medic on the battlefield. He was shot in the thigh (the bullet was never removed), and spent several weeks in a Crimean hospital before returning to Nikolajevka. On June 13, 1920, Kornelius was married to Anna Neufeld* by Rev. Herman Neufeld, the bride's father. That same year he became a teacher at Nikolajevka High School, the school he had previously attended as a pupil. The next year he taught at the local elementary school.

Although the rest of Anna's family emigrated to Canada in 1923, Kornelius and Anna, his parents, his sister, and their two children (Susie and Kornelius), did not follow them until 1929, when the political situation made it almost too late. In 1923, Kornelius and Anna took over her parents' house and farm, with the intention of purchasing it over time. They farmed on the property until 1929, when they abandoned it. Shortly before they were allowed to leave, Kornelius was detained for a number of days in a Moscow prison, then released. In the spring of 1930, they arrived in Winkler, Manitoba, where Anna's parents now lived, and in July Anna gave birth to another child, Herman. Kornelius quickly found work as a farmhand in the area, then joined his brother-in-law at the Rundschau Publishing House in Winnipeg as a printer and linotype operator, and purchased a house in North Kildonen. Twelve years later, on October 2, 1942, Anna passed away suddenly of a heart condition.

One of Neufeld's co-workers at the Rundschau was Jacob Regehr, whose younger sister, Kathryn,** was teaching in a one-room school in Kansas at the time. When visiting Jacob's house, Neufeld noticed a picture of Kathryn on the dresser, and determined that she was the one he wanted to marry. After one meeting, followed by many letters back and forth, the couple felt they had gotten to know each other very well, and on October 2, 1943 they were married, in Winnipeg. The M.C. was the always-entertaining K.H. Neufeld*. At the time, neither Kornelius nor Kathryn were baptized, and they now decided together to take this step. They were baptized in the lake at Bird's Hill Park, early one Sunday morning in August, 1944.

In 1945, Kornelius' father died, and he, Kathryn, and their baby son Ernest traveled to Yarrow for the funeral. Yarrow appealed to them, so they bought a lot on Central Road, and decided to move. Neufeld resigned from the Rundschau, sold their house in N. Kildonan, and with their combined assets, built a small printing shop and purchased some second-hand machinery. There was no money left to build a house, so the family lived for the first five years in a small "cabin-shack" on the lot. During these years, two more children, Benjamin and Victor, were born. A two-acre raspberry farm was purchased with no money down (payments made from profits) to provide income while the fledgling printing business grew. This raspberry farm provided work for the three sons every spring and summer. Neufeld took great pride in the quality of his plants.

Although Yarrow was really too small to support a printing shop, most of Neufeld's business came from outside - from individuals (e.g. wedding announcements), schools, churches, and businesses. In the 1940s he published "Der Friedens-Bote", a community paper of which one issue appears on this website: Der Friedens-Bote: February, 1948. Neufeld printed books for customers as far away as Ontario. He also periodically printed a portion of the B.C. Voters List. At times, when there were urgent deadlines, the whole family was involved. Since Kornelius was meticulous in his writing, he was often chosen to church committees and asked to record the minutes.

Kornelius retired at the age of 75. He and Kathryn moved to Clearbrook in 1973 and joined the Clearbrook M.B. Church. They felt very much at home in this church, as many members had already moved there from Yarrow; also, a number of the members were acquaintances from Russia, including even some of Kornelius' former students from Nikolajevka. Kornelius passed away April 17, 1988; Kathryn December 10, 1996.

*Anna Neufeld was the sister of the well-known K.H. Neufeld, choral musician, 1892-1957, and daughter of itinerant preacher, Elder Herman A. Neufeld.

**Her father, Rev. Gerhard Regehr, was the widely-known itinerant preacher, 1866-1960.

A Partial Bibliography

Neufeld, Abram H., Herman and Katharina, Their Story. Winnipeg: The Christian Press; Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Canada, 1984, 230 pp.

Willms, H.J. Vor den Toren Moskaus; oder Gottes gnaedige Durchhilfe in einer schweren Zeit. Abbotsford, BC: Komitee der Fluehtlinge; Yarrow, B.C.: Columbia Press, 1960, 148 pp.

Willms, H.J. At the Gates of Moscow. Yarrow, B.C.: Columbia Press, Committee of Mennonite Refugees from the Soviet Union, 1964, 220 pp.

Neufeld, J.J., Coming Events in the Light of the Scripture. Yarrow, B.C.: Columbia Press, 1953, 27 pp.

Klassen, Peter. Heimat Einmal (Once a Homeland), 2 vols. Yarrow, BC; Columbia Press.

Toews, C.P., A History of the Terek Settlement: Its Origin, Growth and Abandonment. Yarrow, B.C.: Columbia Press, 72 pp.

Klassen, Johann P., Der Zwillingsbruder von "Meine Garbe". Yarrow, B.C.: Columbia Press.

Biography Courtesy of Ben Neufeld.


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