The Beginnings of Stayner Camp
The Mennonite Brethren In Christ, Ontario District (predecessor to the Evangelical Missionary Church) held its first camp meeting along the banks of the Grand River at Breslau, September 14-22, 1881. The “Berlin Weekly News” published this report: “There was a very large crowd, estimated at between three and four thousand, on Sunday afternoon…Something like one hundred families have pitched their tents for the whole meeting…A large staff of clerical and lay workers are present, and a powerful religious influence prevails.” In the years that followed, these “Bush Meetings” were held annually at various locations across Ontario, including Stayner. This style of Camp Meeting was the predecessor to Christian Camping as we now know it in Ontario.
In 1925, sites in Kitchener and Stayner were purchased. The Kitchener site hosted camp meetings for nearly 40 years, after which it was donated to Emmanuel Bible College. In Stayner, a 51.9 hectare white pine property on Scott Street had been leased for camp meetings since 1900, and was purchased from Mr. Gartlan for $1500 to become Stayner Bible Conference Grounds. In 1931 the camp committee planted 3,000 seedlings which have matured into our magnificent white pine forest. Through the years the kitchen and dining hall were built, the tabernacle was erected in 1947 with the use of timber from the acreage, and a plethora of improvements and additions were done to meet the needs of a growing youth camp program. Today Stayner Camp hosts family camps and youth day camps, and the retreat centre sees year round use by groups from across Southern Ontario.
In 2016 one of our older cabins was refurbished to become our camp museum. Donations of interest and pictures from long ago are on display. Maybe you can help us identify some of the faces in our pictures. Video footage from past Salt and Light conferences and EMCC Pitch and Praise weekends will be sure to bring a smile to your face. The museum is open from June 10 to Labour Day weekend during events and camps. If you are in the area and want to visit the museum, talk to us in the office and we will be sure the building is open for you.
The first Mennonite Brethren In Christ camp "Bush Meeting" is held in Breslau, ON.
Camp meetings are held at various locations throughout Ontario. Stayner is the location chosen to hold meetings in 1891, 1892, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1919 and 1922
White pine land on Scott Street purchased from the Gartlan Estate for $1500
The annual camp meetings are held at the newly purchased Stayner and Kitchener Camps
Campgrounds committee plants 3000 seedlings on the grounds.
Kitchen and Dining Hall erected, west four acres planted with red pine
Dr. I.H. Erb starts a youth camp that runs during the regular camp, the South Washrooms are built
The Tabernacle is built with timber from the land
Camp Pinewagami begins. Trail of the Pines camp follows as a camp for younger boys and girls.
The Fellowship Hall is funded by District Youth who also help to build it
The North Field is purchased from the Brown family
A new kitchen and addition to the dining hall are built
Municipal sewers are connected and the east section of the Lodge is built
The first stage of the winterized lodge is built
Link between the Dining Hall and the Lodge is built (Lower Lounge and offices).
Dining hall is insulated/winterized, fireplace added
An addition to the lodge is constructed
Purchase of 9 Lots from Irvine Locke on the North side of the property
North Washroom is built
Gymnasium is built, Air Conditioning installed in the Dining Hall
Tuck Shop is erected
A Manager’s Home is built on Saunders St.
Renovations to winterize the Nursery
Evergreen Christian Ministries is incorporated in order to independently govern Stayner Camp and Camp Mishewah, while remaining in partnership with EMCC.
Heroes on the Move Day Camp begins at Stayner
Lodge renovations add washrooms to most rooms
Major kitchen renovations are completed