Classification scheme: 
Hist.Mss.1.66

Title: Gordon C. Eby fonds

Dates of creation: 1889-1971

Physical description:  1.14 m of textual records and photographs

Biographical sketch: Gordon Christian Eby (1890-1965 ) was the youngest of six children of Christian Eby (Hist.Mss.1.21) and Catherine Clemens Eby. The family home was at 409 Mill Street, Berlin (later Kitchener). About the time Gordon was born, his mother's sister Veronica Stengel was committed to an asylum in Hamilton. Catherine took charge of her sister's five children. Alvira ("Allie") Stengel, the oldest daughter, maintained a faithful correspondence with the Ebys into her adult life.

In his youth, Gordon worked in the family's market garden business and was an amateur photographer. He belonged to the 108th Regiment of the Militia  at the time of his enlistment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1915. Subsequently, he trained with the 118th Battalion, left for England in January 1917 and after further training as a signaller, joined the 21st Battalion in France in October 1917. At war's end he was quartered for a few months in Siegburg, Germany before returning to England and then home in May 1919.

He married Elsie Hewitt (1900-1974), whom he met after the war, in 1921. He returned to the market gardening business until the depression of the 1930s required him to seek work at J. M. Schneider. Gordon and Elsie had eight children.

Custodial history: Most items in series 1-5 were donated to the Archives by Anne (Eby) Millar, daughter of Gordon Eby, in 1979. Access was restricted to Conrad Grebel College faculty and Paul Tiessen until 1990. A copy of Eby's military service file was requested and received by the Archives from Library Archives Canada in 2013. Following the death of Anne Millar in 2016, the following items were donated to the Archives by Esther Millar: Gordon Eby's apple tree correspondence, Don Millar's correspondence and Anne Millar's transcriptions of that correspondence, the album in Series 4 file 4, and all items in series 7-9.

Scope and content: Contains the diaries written by Gordon Eby, his correspondence with family and friends, photographs, and his battalion badges. In addition to his own papers, Gordon retained correspondence and photographs belonging to his parents and siblings, his sister Lydia Ann Eby Wray and son Don Eby in particular. Much of the correspondence to and from Christian and Catherine Eby has been transferred to the Christian Eby fonds; some is retained here. Gordon's daughter Anne contributed transcriptions of the diaries and letters, descriptors to some of the photographs, and further correspondence and biographical information on several family members. A full file list follows, below.

Notes: Some of the photographs in this fonds have been added to the Mennonite Archival Image Database.; further materials related to Gordon Eby may be found by searching the Archives.

The diaries have been published in two separate works, both located in the Milton Good Library:
The Gordon C. Eby diaries, 1911-13 : chronicle of a Mennonite farmer / edited by James M. Nyce. - Toronto : Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1982
'Of course I was an onlooker for I can't dance' : the 1911-1919 diary of Gordon Christian Eby, Mennonite farmer / edited by Paul Tiessen and Anne Eby Millar. - Waterloo, Ont. : MLR Editions Canada, 2007

Original archival description created 2013 and updated 2021 by Laureen Harder-Gissing.
 

File list:

Series 1: Diaries

1911-1913, 1912, 1913 (2 volumes), 1914, 1915 (2 volumes), 1916, 1917-1918 (includes address book and record of letters received and sent), 1917-1919 (includes address book and record of letters received and sent), 1918 (includes record of letters received and sent), 1918-1919, [191-] (notes on military training)

Series 2: Correspondence

  1. Gordon Eby
    Scope and content: Predominantly contains correspondence to and from Gordon Eby. Some Christian and Catherine Eby family and business correspondence is mixed in, particularly in the pre-war years. The correspondence came to the Archives in bundles; the file organization essentially retains the organization of the bundles.

    1898-1912, 1905-1906 and 1911 (letters from Cressman, Saskatchewan), 1909-1912, 1913, 1914-1915, 1915, 1915-1919, 1916, 1918, 1917-1919, 1930 (correspondence with Board of Pension Commissioners)
  2. Items found with Gordon Eby correspondence
    Scope and content: Includes used military passes, unused postcards, and the following published materials: Canadian sailors' soldiers' and airmen's leave guide for London / Canadian YMCA, [191-]; Timetable of train service for East Coast Route (London to Scotland), 1914; White nights / by Beatrice Chase and John Oxenham. - London : Methuen & Co., [191-]; Army prayer book / printed by Hayman, Christy and Lilly, London, [191-]; Order of divine service and hymns specially compiled for the Canadian Expeditionary Force / issued by Camp Chaplain's Office, Toronto, 1916; Berlin, get ready [poem] / by Sergt. A. A. Davies 2nd Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers wounded at Festubert, 15th May, 1915, resulting in partial paralysis; No. 10 Basic Training Centre : Kitchener, Ont. - envelope containing 18 picture cards, etc.
  3. Eby family correspondence with the Stengel family
    1901-1912, 1913, 1920, 1963
  4. Lydia Ann Eby Wray correspondence, 1889-1922
    Notes: Includes some correspondence from George and Rozel Wray.
    The following book, received by Lydia Ann Eby in 1881, was transferred to the Milton Good Library:
    The history of Susan Gray and Lucy Clare / Mrs. Sherwood. - London, Milner and Sowerby, [18--]
  5. Gordon Eby's correspondence re a new variety of apple tree, 1949-1971
  6. Don Eby's correspondence
    Note: Gordon Albert Christian ("Don") Eby (1923-1957) was a son of Gordon and Elsie Eby. He served as a navigator on Lancaster bombers from 1943-1944, graduated from McGill as a chemical engineer, and died at age 33. Some notes from Anne Millar are included with the correspondence. Two photographs of Don Eby are also included. See also Hist.Mss.1.66.3/5 for transcriptions and Hist.Mss.1.66.8/7 for a biography by Anne Millar.
  7. Gordon and Elsie Eby family letters, 1945-1950

Series 3: Transcriptions

Scope and content: Anne (Eby) Millar, Gordon's daughter, transcribed many of the family letters and diaries listed above, as follows:

  1. Gordon Eby diary, 1911-1913, 1914-1919
    Note: Includes many family photographs and an epilogue by Anne Eby
  2. Gordon Eby correspondence, 1915-1919, 1930
    Note: Includes correspondence from Anne Millar regarding access
  3. Family correspondence
    Note: Includes biographical information on Catherine Eby and notes on the Stengel family
  4. Lydia Ann Eby Wray correspondence
    Note: Includes biographical information
  5. Don Eby correspondence

Series 4: Photographs

  1. Photograph albums
    Scope and content: Photographs predominantly from Gordon Eby's time in the military, 1914-1919.  Some photographs of family before and after the war are also included. Captions may have been added by Anne (Eby) Millar. Two albums.
  2. Family photographs not in album
    1. Gordon Eby
    2. Christian Eby and Catherine Clemens Eby
    3. Isabella Jane Eby
    4. Lydia Ann Eby Wray and George Wray
    5. Dorothy Eby and Florence Eby
    6. Abraham B. and Magdalena Eby Clemens
    7. Wes Stengel
    8. David and Alvira ("Allie") Stengel Cutter
    9. Lydia Ann Eby Wray, John ("Jack") Wray, George Wray and friends from Montreal
    10. George Wray and Rozel Black Wray
    11. Isaac Eby
    12. Gordon and Elsie Eby and children (located in 2019-1.28)
  3. Gordon Eby wartime photographs
    Note: These photographs were purchased or received, not taken by, Gordon Eby:
    1. Camp Borden
    2. 21st Battalion at Kingston, Ont. on demobilization day, May 1919
    3. Gordon Eby and a friend in uniform, 1918
    4. 21st Battalion at Wittly Camp, England, spring 1919 (2 copies)
    5. 108th Regiment Home Guards, spring 1915
    6. Returning boys (Ed Wackel, George Kropf, Bill Mitchell) at   Kitchener City Hall, ca. 1916
    7. Postcards exchanged with Germans
  4. Gordon Eby family album (before and after the First World War)

Series 5: Realia

Gordon Eby's 21st Battalion badges
Don Eby's R.C.A.F. badges

Series 6: Canadian Expeditionary Force service file

1. Gordon C. Eby's Canadian Expeditionary Force service file (photocopy)
Note: RG 150-1992-93/166-2817-13. Received in Nov 2013 from Library Archives Canada.

Series 7: Gordon Eby, Miscellaneous

  1. Gordon Eby's will, obituary and list of personal effects; an account of his trip to the United States with Elsie in 1948, genealogical data, etc.

Series 8: Anne (Eby) Millar

Note: Anne Millar (1922-2016) was the daughter and oldest child of Gordon and Elsie Eby. She married Douglas Millar, son of Fred and Ida (Bergey) Millar and a World War II conscientious objector, in 1944. She maintained a keen and active interest in family and local history throughout her life.

  1. Correspondence with Doug Millar, 1941, 1943-1944
    Note: Includes correspondence while Doug was in Alternative Service at Montreal River (1941) and while he was in agricultural service near Wyoming, Ontario (1943-1944). Also includes correspondence from friends Bob Rahn and Harold Schmidt, and five photographs (a wedding photo, a photo of Doug Millar as a conscientious objector and friends, a portrait of the Fred and Ida Millar family (located in 2019-1.27), and portraits of Doug and Anne in their youth).
  2. Doug Millar's career at Manulife
  3. Correspondence with Elsie Eby
  4. Recipe book from the Kitchener Public Schools' "household science" program, [1930s?]
  5. Correspondence with James M. Nyce re diary publication
  6. Correspondence with James M. Nyce re "charming" (folk medicine practice)
    Note: Includes published materials: Hexology: The History and Meaning of Hex Signs / Jacob and Jane Zook, 1962 ; "Twenty questions on powwowing" / Don Yoder, 1963.
  7. "Don's Story" manuscript by Anne Millar
  8. Hewitt family story manuscript by Anne Millar
  9. Notes on a fraktur drawing from 1823
  10. Funeral order of service for Anne Millar, 2016
  11. Personal notes on events at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church
  12. Instructions for church historians
    Note: The following publication was transferred to the Milton Good Library: Haury, David A. Heritage Preservation: A Resource Book for Congregations, 1993.

Series 9: Elsie (Hewitt) Eby

  1. Miscellaneous correspondence, clippings and notes (3 files)
  2. Ella ("Dollie") Hewitt (1899-1970) correspondence
    Note: Sister to Elsie, Dollie was a Red Cross nurse in Indigenous communities in northern Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She was with the Grenfell medical mission at Forteau, Labrador for 20 years. Includes photographs of Ella Hewitt.
  3. Hewitt family photograph album and some loose photographs and postcards

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Contact

Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238

Email: marchive@uwaterloo.ca