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Lucky Money

Categories: Events,Stories

In 1998 the Markham Village Conservancy(MVC) was formed with the express purpose of having the Markham Train Station restored. They needed to raise a large sum of money to begin this project. Don Reesor, an enthusiastic supporter of the idea, came to a meeting of the York Chapter of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society (He was also on the executive) and made a request for some seed money to get the project started. The PGFSO agreed to make a donation of $5,000, arguing that the train station had been an important focal point for the PG community in Markham Township. This seed money was enough to encourage the MVC to seriously begin a fundraising campaign that generated about $800,000 from various sources including Go Transit and the Town of Markham. We are all proud of the fine restoration of this heritage building that today serves as the ticket office of GO and a great community meeting place.

Spring forward 10 years to a group of people in Unionville interested in restoring the Stiver Mill. Bob Stiver and Jan Kerr Hornell were instrumental in beginning the Stiver Mill Farmers Market to draw attention to the importance of this historical site. Bob and Jan together with Elizabeth Plashkes and others in the community created the Unionville Village Conservancy with the express purpose of restoring the Stiver Mill. They needed seed money and the MVC forwarded that $5,000 “Lucky Money” to the UVC. This start up money was even more successful in that the UVC and the City of Markham raised $1.9 million, including a contribution from the Government of Canada for the restoration project. The contractor has been working all winter and phase I of the restoration is almost finished. The Stiver Mill will be a community building with delightful walkways and landscaping around it. Congratulations UVC in a job well done.

But the story continues. Prior to 1910, Bethesda Lutheran Church was located on the east side of Kennedy Road, north of what is now known as 16th Avenue. In 1910 the congregation moved the building, brick by brick, to 20 Union Street, just south of the railroad and Stiver Mill. While the tower was replaced on the new church, for some reason the existing steeple was never rebuilt. Thus the church existed for just over 100 years without a steeple. In 2012, some members of the active congregation decided it was time for the church to have a steeple and plans were drawn up and a building permit approved. Again funding to complete the construction was a problem.

Enter the “Lucky Money”. The UVC decided that the $5,000 should be passed on to this new project. On January 19, 2014 Jan Kerr Hornell, Bob Stiver, and Councillors Don Hamilton and Carolina Moretti came to a service at Bethesda and presented a cheque for $5,000 on condition that when another worthwhile historic project comes along Bethesda will pass on this “Lucky Money” as seed money for the new project. (By the way, it was Bob Stiver who coined the term “Lucky Money”.) The steeple is not as tall as the original because of structural issues on the tower, but it now contains a church bell that calls people in the community to worship each Sunday morning.

Lorne Smith