I took this picture of my brother-in-law, John, on our trip to Ontario in September. John is standing beside a young oak tree in his backyard. The sapling was started with a cutting from a special tree. It was grown from an acorn brought back to Canada from an oak in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. The tree in Ukraine is of historical significance to Mennonites because it was their meeting place or gathering place when they first came to Ukraine from Prussia.
When my husband Dave and I were in Ukraine in 2011 we visited the famous oak tree. Mennonites refer to it as the Chortitza Oak because it is located in the area that was once home to the oldest Mennonite settlement in Ukraine called Chortitza. The oak, which is 800 years old has died. It only stays standing now with lots of help from pulleys and chains. There are ‘children’ of this Mennonite tree in many places in Canada including on the grounds of Canadian Mennonite University where Dave and I met when we were students.
People from Canada visited the oak in Ukraine years ago when it was healthy. They took home acorns from the Chortitza oak and planted them. Now they have given seedlings from their trees to many others. My brother-in-law John has one of these seedlings. My parents-in-law were both born in Ukraine. Having a little piece of his parents’ homeland in his backyard is important to John.
Even though the tree in Ukraine has died, oaks planted from its seeds can be found in many different parts of Canada just the way the descendants of the Mennonites who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine, can be found in many different parts of Canada.
Other posts about Mennonites in Ukraine…..