ENSLIN, CHRISTIAN (Emanuel Christian Gottlieb), bookbinder, newspaperman, notary, and office holder; b. 4 Feb. 1800 in Württemberg (Federal Republic of Germany); m. Julia —, and they had one child; d. 29 March 1856 in Berlin (Kitchener), Upper Canada.
Christian Enslin came from Württemberg to North America about 1830. One of the early German immigrants to the Waterloo area, he arrived in Berlin some time before 1833 with all his possessions in a carpet-bag. He first supported himself as a daily labourer, but soon began to practise his trade as a bookbinder, travelling from house to house until he could establish a small bindery. There he bound books for customers such as Bishop Benjamin Eby and Heinrich Wilhelm Peterson. Some time later Enslin expanded his business to include a bookstore, where he sold not only books but also patent medicines, eyeglasses, school supplies, and other specialized articles.
In December 1837 Enslin began an active role in journalism, working for almost a year as the associate editor of Peterson’s Canada Museum, und Allgemeine Zeitung. When Peterson decided to stop publishing it, Enslin and Heinrich Eby, a son of Bishop Eby and a former apprentice at the Canada Museum, purchased the newspaper plant from him in December 1840. A month later Peterson’s two former employees founded Der Deutsche Canadier und Neuigkeitsbote. Following the demise in September 1841 of Der Morgenstern, a short-lived German weekly published in Waterloo, Enslin and Eby acquired a subscription list and perhaps also some equipment from its publisher Benjamin Burkholder. The sole German-language newspaper published in British North America from 1841 to 1848, the Deutsche Canadier was more successful than its first rival, the Morgenstern, and it continued in print until January 1865.
Enslin, editor of the Deutsche Canadier from its first issue until he was succeeded by Johann Jakob Ernst in January 1850, proudly boasted that his reform journal was “a staunch advocate of Responsible and Constitutional Government.” The paper did not publish much local news, but it did support instruction in German in county schools. Enslin concentrated instead on reports of political unrest in Europe and reprinted literary extracts from various continental journals. Despite its popularity the Deutsche Canadier was never free from the threat of bankruptcy. With tongue in cheek Enslin warned his readers early in 1844 that, “inasmuch as the end of the world is to come on the 22nd of March, according to Miller’s prophecy, we respectfully request all our readers who are in arrears with their subscriptions to call and settle at once, otherwise it will go hard with them on Judgment Day.”
Enslin, a convert to the religious views of Emanuel Swedenborg, was instrumental in the formation of a Swedenborgian congregation in Berlin, later known as the Church of the New Jerusalem or the New Church. For some time before the cooperative Free Church, which was used by a number of denominations, was opened on 25 Dec. 1842, Enslin’s group met for services in his orchard in the summer and in his bindery in the winter. A circulating library of religious books, most of which were Swedenborgian, operated out of his bookstore under the auspices of the New Church Society of Berlin. Enslin was also one of the organizers of the second Mennonite Sunday school in the county, established in April 1841.
During his career Enslin held a number of civic offices. As a bilingual notary he assisted many German farmers in their land transactions and, according to an obituary in the Berlin Chronicle and Provincial Reformers’ Gazette, “he wrote more public documents than any other man in Canada.” He was appointed commissioner to the Court of Queen’s Bench, responsible for taking affidavits for use in local court sessions, and from 1853 to 1855 he served as the first clerk of the Surrogate Court in Waterloo County. He became the second treasurer of the county a few months before his death from consumption on 29 March 1856.
AO, RG 1, A-I-6: 23046–48; RG 22, ser.155, will of Christian Enslin. PAC, RG 31, A1, 1851, Waterloo Township, pt.4: 180–81. New Jerusalem Magazine (Boston), 28 (1856): 623–24. Berlin Chronicle and Provincial Reformers’ Gazette (Berlin [Kitchener, Ont.]), 2 April 1856. Canada Museum, und Allgemeine Zeitung (Berlin). Der Deutsche Canadier und Neuigkeitsbote (Berlin), 1 Jan. 1841–December 1849. Der Morgenstern (Waterloo, [Ont.]), 8 June 1839–16 Sept. 1841. M. B. Block, The New Church in the new world: a study of Swedenborgianism in America (New York, 1932; repr. 1968). A. E. Byerly, The beginning of things in Wellington and Waterloo counties . . . (Guelph, Ont., 1935). H. K. Kalbfleisch, The history of the pioneer German language press of Ontario, Canada, 1835–1918 (London, Ont., and Münster, German Federal Republic, 1968). Gottlieb Leibbrant, Little paradise: the saga of the German Canadians of Waterloo County, Ontario, 1800–1975 (Kitchener, 1980). W. V. Uttley, A history of Kitchener, Ontario (Kitchener, 1937; repr. [Waterloo, 1975]). The Waterloo Hist. Soc. (Waterloo) has published a number of articles relating to Christian Enslin’s life in its Annual report, including: Salome Bauman, “First Mennonite Church, 1813–1963,” 1963: 19–26; Michael Bird, “The Swedenborgian community in Waterloo County: two religious approaches to culture,” 1975: 69–74; W. H. Breithaupt, “[Address at the dedication of the Waterloo County Pioneers’ Memorial Tower, 28 Aug. 1926],” 1926: 220–25, “Some German settlers of Waterloo County,” 1913: 11–15, and “Waterloo County newspapers,” 1921: 152–60; A. E. Byerly, “Henry William Peterson,” 1931: 250–62; D. Johnson, “The Church of the Good Shepherd,” 1943: 39–43; D. N. Panabaker, “President’s report,” 1932: 298–308; and Jacob Stroh, “Reminiscences of Berlin (now Kitchener),” 1930: 175–207; 1931: 274–84. A brief account of Enslin’s life was published a few years after his death in “Minutes of the meeting of the Association of the New Church in Canada,” New Jerusalem Magazine, 36 (1864): 210–11.
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Cite This Article
Tom Eadie, “ENSLIN, CHRISTIAN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 31, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/enslin_christian_8E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Tom Eadie|
|Title of Article:||ENSLIN, CHRISTIAN|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1985|
|Year of revision:||1985|
|Access Date:||March 31, 2023|