New Brubacher House Hosts eager for Urban Homestead

Friday, February 10, 2017

Laura and Joshua Enns in front of the Brubacher house
Conrad Grebel University College is pleased to welcome Laura (‘13 BES) and Joshua Enns (‘12 BMATH) as the newest hosts of Brubacher House, effective February 1, 2017. Once home to Magdalena and John E. Brubacher and their fourteen children, Brubacher House now operates as a museum on the University of Waterloo campus and serves to educate and interpret the Pennsylvania German Mennonite way of life to visitors. As hosts, Laura and Joshua will serve as guides and caretakers of this important piece of history.

“We were excited when we saw the job posting because we had been searching for a kind of ‘urban homestead’ where we could live closer to the land and build community around the arts, social and environmental justice, and our Mennonite heritage” the pair explained. And Brubacher House is just that. The stone farmhouse, built in typical Pennsylvania German style, is a nod to the agrarian roots of Waterloo Region, while OpenText and other neighbouring buildings in the David Johnston Research + Technology Park are representative of the area’s innovative present and future.

Joshua and Laura are quite at home when it comes to living in a piece of history. As recent volunteers with the Iona Community in Scotland, they have both lived and worked in heritage sites – Laura, as a music assistant in an abbey, and Joshua as staff at an off-grid activity centre in an old fishing bothy. Inspired by groups like the Iona Community that are bringing new life to historic buildings, Laura and Joshua are eager to take on this new challenge.

“As a community musician, Laura enjoys facilitating engaging arts activities. She is bursting with ideas and will be fantastic at creating new and relevant reasons for people to engage with the Brubacher House and its history,” Joshua offered.

Laura added, “Joshua is great at finding creative ways of engaging with people, whether through storytelling, asking thought-provoking questions, or facilitating experiential learning. He will find interesting ways of connecting with museum visitors, and creating conversation around the Mennonite story.”

The transition marks an end to Jacquie and Karl Reimer’s four years as hosts of Brubacher House. The Reimers will remember many things fondly, including the huge windows with their deep sills, the joy of meeting new people, and the fun that comes with ringing the dinner bell (perhaps too much fun, Jacquie admits).

While reflecting on the experience, Jacquie remarked, “Living at Brubacher House is an experience like nothing else we will have in our lives. From the strangeness and amazingness of being the storytellers of such a wonderful family's history, to living in a beautiful space that is in the middle of a city though it feels like its own little world. [Joshua and Laura] have so much to look forward to! “

Brubacher House is located on the north campus of University of Waterloo. Visitors are welcome May 1 to October 31 on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2pm-5pm, and Friday 12pm-5pm, or other times throughout the year by appointment.

Brubacher House