Village News

Volunteerism

   When I started my job at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in 2009 I was introduced to five women who volunteered as our receptionists, each taking on that role one day a week. They would answer the phone, greet guests who came to visit the museum, and help anyone who wanted to make a purchase in the gift shop. This was a valuable and essential service to MHV, and still is today.

   Over time, these five women have chosen to gradually reduce their involvement in this role for a variety of reasons, none of which involves less love for MHV. We are grateful that several new volunteers have stepped up to serve MHV and our community in this capacity. However, we currently do not have enough volunteers to keep the reception desk staffed during all open hours. To fill this need we’ve turned some of the reception work over to paid staff. Our paid staff are talented people and good to have on our team. At the same time, having to replace volunteers with paid staff places a financial burden on our organization.

   As the overall workload at MHV continues to grow and some of our long-serving volunteers in many areas are moving into well-deserved retirement, we wonder why we’re not finding enough new volunteers to fill their roles. Maybe it’s been caused by gradual changes in our western society. During the time that I lived in my parent’s home in my childhood and youth, my mother was a full-time “employee” of our farm, and her job was to manage the home. Apart from two weeks of substitute teaching in our one-room country school when the regular teacher was ill, she never had a job outside of our home after she became a mother. And that’s how it was in many homes at that time.

   The picture can look quite different in today’s households. My wife and I have two adult married offspring. They and their partners all have careers. In many such households, parents are working all week, spending their evenings feeding the children, putting them to bed, and getting lunches ready for the next morning. That leaves laundry, yard work, taking the kids to lessons, cleaning the house and shopping for the weekend. Finding time for community volunteering as well is just not easy in that scenario.

   It seems today’s society also places higher value on leisure activities than in earlier times, and no doubt this is important, given the busy schedule of many families. Once an investment has been made in a cottage, a boat, a pair of skis, or a full set of hockey equipment, it’s important to utilize that investment for the purpose for which it’s intended. If there is any remaining time for volunteering, that time is limited.

   We in Steinbach are blessed to live in a community that has so many good volunteer opportunities. From churches to recreational sports to arts and cultural activities, there is no end of opportunities. In fact, it feels at times that the demand for volunteers is increasing while the supply is dwindling.

   My intent is certainly not to make anyone feel guilty for not volunteering or for not spending more time volunteering, or for leaving a long-held volunteer post. There are still large numbers of active volunteers in this community, and we appreciate each one. My purpose is simply to raise this subject for thought and consideration, and maybe to suggest an alternate solution.

   When I was a child, my parents often used the phrase “We have more time than money,” usually to punctuate the need for hard work. Considering our lifestyles today, many of us would be more likely to say that we have more money than time. How many of us hire someone to clean our house or paint our house or complete a landscaping project on our yard? How many of us spend $10 on the way to work to wash our vehicle because we didn’t have time to do it ourselves on the driveway the night before?

   So here is my suggestion:  For those of us who have more money than time and who don’t have time to volunteer, how about paying for a volunteer? A volunteer who puts in one day per week will work about 400 hours per year. Place whatever value you feel is appropriate on the work of that volunteer and make donations in that amount to the charity of your choice. This will not create more volunteers but will help to pay for some of the staff who must be hired to replace departing volunteers.

   Right now MHV is recruiting volunteers for various responsibilities at Pioneer Days on the August long-weekend. We look forward to finding people who will take one or more shifts during this weekend, when many people will be coming to enjoy our museum and our community. If we miss calling to invite your participation, please call us at 204-326-9661.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

MHV “Home” For Staff

   In my role as Office/Rental Manager here at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), I tend to be more personally involved with the business side of our facility than with the “museum” side of things, except to say that I am always proud of the work that our Curatorial staff does with setting our annual theme and putting together very high-quality exhibits. However, this year’s theme - Storied Places - and current exhibit have connected with me in a much deeper way and are continually reminding me of my own story as it relates to this workplace, my home for 40 hours per week.

   Growing up in a certain area often makes it a very natural place for people to stay and continue their lives. I myself often feel like I have grown up at MHV. My earliest memories date back to the mid 1970’s when I was a young boy and my grandfather, David P. Reimer, was an MHV volunteer.

   Grandpa Reimer was at that time quite involved in many different areas here at MHV. When for the first time I was asked if I would like to ride with Grandpa on an old tractor in the Pioneer Days parade, I have to admit I was hesitant. The parade would take quite a long time, likely pushing the limits of my childhood attention span, and so many people would be watching; it was a pretty tall request for such a young person. But once I was convinced that I would do it and would like it, I did - and it’s actually become quite a special memory.

   The creation of special memories at MHV continued through my early years. My mother was recruited at some point to give tours, and during those tours I spent most of my time with Grandpa Reimer in the Blacksmith Shop, sometimes operating the bellows used to fan the fire or trying to sharpen a tool on the large sharpening stone wheel. Grandpa tried to teach me how to hammer the iron, and later how to make things out of tin and understand the workings of the small model steam engines.

   In MHV’s current collection of artifacts, we have a model of a Chortitz Housebarn that my grandfather built. I have distinct memories of working with him in his garage at home to cut some of the blocks and shingles for that model, and later even trying to nail a few of the shingles onto the roof. I had to be so careful not to split the shingle.

   Both of my grandparents have long since passed, but my parents have remained an important part of the volunteer workforce here at MHV. I have in my personal collection of photographs two pictures: one is of Grandpa Reimer operating the forge in the MHV Blacksmith Shop; the other is of my father in the very same pose in the same Blacksmith Shop.

   I myself don’t operate the forge, and I don’t build things out of wood or metal like my family predecessors, but I am more than happy to be a part of the work at MHV in my own ways. When I go outside and see that someone has lit a fire in the Blacksmith Shop, when I get to watch the Pioneer Days parade with my kids, or when I’m at an MHV festival event and the Steam Club fires up the old steam engine, all the old memories come flooding back. When I interact with MHV’s many rental clients, they often ask if they can look around the village. And when they ask me about some of the things they are seeing, I’m always more than happy to tell them the stories of how I grew up here and how MHV remains very much a part of “home” for me.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

    

Village News

Storied Places smallest

Photo: VN 2017-07-06 - Storied Places.jpg

Caption: Our new exhibit, Storied Places, is in the Gerhard Ens Gallery until Spring 2018.

VN 2017 07 06 Colin M east slope1

Photo: VN 2017-07-06 Colin McGhee working on east slope of roof

Caption: Master Thatcher Colin McGhee working on east slope of roof, June 20, 2017

 

Waldheim House

   Our Waldheim House restoration project is nearing completion! As mentioned in previous articles, the logs, ceiling, roof structure, and interior of the house were restored over the winter by local contractor Walls that Speak. The thatching component of the project was completed this weekend.

   This leaves the Waldheim House, built in 1876, with a roof that will last 50 to 60 years with proper maintenance. The roof is thatched with Phragmites reeds harvested around the Dauphin area. These are naturally water-resistant, and are packed so tightly that they are pest- and rodent-resistant as well. If you didn't get a chance to see thatching in action, visit our Facebook page Mennonite Heritage Village Museum and take a moment to browse through our Waldheim House Restoration Project album for photos.

   We will re-open the house in mid-July, after we have had a chance to clean up the site. Walls that Speak will take care of the exterior, and the Curatorial department will work in conjunction with our Custodial team to clean up inside the house. We need to wipe down furniture and put it back where it belongs, hang curtains, make the beds, and put back all of the props and artifacts that make the house look lived-in. With a few exceptions, the interior will look much as it did before the restoration project. However, the work done over the last year will ensure that the Waldheim House stands in good condition for many more years to come.

   Keep checking our website, www.mhv.ca, and our social media accounts for the latest news on when the Waldheim House re-opens. If you're curious about what exactly the restoration entailed, visit our Facebook photo album, Waldheim House Restoration Project, and the latest edition of MHV's Village Voice (available on our website and at the museum) for more information.

   We would like to acknowledge and thank the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, Steinbach Credit Union, Thomas Sill Foundation, RM of Hanover, and the private donors who made this project possible.

Storied Places

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) opened its new temporary exhibit, Storied Places, on July 1st in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. In this exhibit, we talk about how Mennonites made Manitoba their home after they moved here in the 1870s, and ask our visitors what makes a place "home." At the end of the exhibit, we invite our visitors to tell us about a place in Steinbach that is important to them so we can create a “storied” map of Steinbach. The exhibit is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6:00 p.m. Sundays during July and August.

Calendar of Events

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Canada 150

   On Saturday, July 1, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will host our annual Canada Day festival in collaboration with the City of Steinbach. The unique part of this year’s national celebration is the special emphasis on Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation. At MHV, we will be highlighting three unique projects related to that theme.

   Our guests will have the opportunity to view the Waldheim House roof-thatching project and talk with Colin McGhee, the master thatcher. They will also be the first guests to see our Canada 150 exhibit, Storied Places, in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. It is also timely that Steinbach’s Canada 150 mural, painted by many community individuals several months ago, will be on view during our festivities.

   Our Waldheim House roof-thatching project has been very special for us, partly because it required so much time and work to bring to reality. The dream for this project actually began about ten years ago. More recently, in 2015, our Member of Parliament, Ted Falk, announced that MHV would receive a $100,000 grant under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, for the renovation of the Waldheim House. Additional funds toward this project were provided by the Steinbach Credit Union, the Thomas Sill Foundation and the Rural Municipality of Hanover. Finding craftspeople with the skills to refurbish an old log structure and install a thatched roof took considerable time and effort. Refurbishing work on the structure finally began in the fall of 2016, and the entire project will be completed this summer.

   This project is also significant because such an undertaking is so rare in our part of the world. We hope many guests will visit us on July 1 and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the installation of a thatched roof.

   Canada is a special place for all of us. Some of us view it as a long-standing home. Others may view it as a place of refuge, having recently come from other countries. Our MHV theme for 2017, Storied Places, invites everyone to think about a place that has been significant in their lives - be it a farmyard, lake, school, or almost any other place - and consider what specific impact that place has had on their lives. On July 1, our new Storied Places exhibit will be opening in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to submit their own stories about places that are especially meaningful to them.

   Earlier this year, in preparation for the Canada 150 celebrations, 150 communities across Canada – including the City of Steinbach - were invited to produce a mural relevant to their community. When Steinbach’s citizens were asked to select a symbol for our city to be incorporated into the mural, the majority of those responding requested that the symbol be our MHV windmill. People of all ages volunteered to paint their own unique tile, later combined artistically with all the other tiles to create one large mosaic. This beautiful mural will eventually arrive at its permanent home on the Jake Epp Library building, but it is currently residing at MHV and will be available for our guests to view on Canada Day.

   Our Canada 150 festivities will include a flag-raising ceremony, with speeches by our political leaders and birthday cake. The day will also feature interpreters in many of our museum buildings, horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, entertainment in our new pavilion and lots of good food. At 6:00, activities will wrap up at MHV and resume at the soccer park at 8:00. The evening activities will include music, cupcakes and fireworks.

   There will be no admission charges at the museum or the soccer park. What a great opportunity for our community to get out and celebrate the 150th anniversary of our country’s confederation.

Calendar of Events

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Campaign Update

   In September 2015, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) rolled out our continuing development initiative called Foundations for a Strong Future. This focused campaign is designed to address several of our museum’s more significant needs, apart from day-to-day operations.

   The projects it will cover fall into three categories. The first is Building Restoration. This involves the rejuvenation of several of our heritage buildings.

   The major item in this category is the Waldheim House, the oldest building in our village and the first building to be brought to this site. With the help of a Canada 150 grant and additional gifts from the Thomas Sill Foundation, the Steinbach Credit Union, the RM of Hanover and numerous individuals, this project is now well underway.

   Our Windmill and the Old Colony Worship House have benefited from repairs and new paint. The Windmill does still need additional significant maintenance.

   This category also includes the replacement of all the 27-year-old furnaces, air conditioners and air make-up units in our Village Centre. This part of the project is essential for the preservation of our artifacts, by maintaining control of our climate in the galleries and artifact storage rooms. We have completed the first stage of this project, with two more to go.

   The second project category is New Construction. We have almost completed our new event centre, which will function as a permanent and enhanced version of the big white tent we used to erect annually. This building will serve MHV’s Education Program and festival events and will also provide the community with a new venue for such events as parties, receptions, family gatherings, and staff picnics. This facility is almost complete and we expect to have the landscaping done by July 1.

   Financial Stability is the third project category. This involves the elimination of our debt and the enhancement of our Endowment Fund. Both of these are essential for efficient operations year to year.

   MHV continues to be blessed by gifts from a generous constituency and significant grants from governments and several supportive private foundations. To date, our cash and pledges exceed $2,100,000 toward a goal of $3,000,000. So we are well on our way to meeting that goal.

   One of the critical aspects of a focused campaign such as this is the risk of losing operating cash flow. Sadly, some of our regular operating donations are being allocated to the campaign instead. While we understand how this works, it doesn’t reduce our significant need for annual operating funds. Taxes, energy bills, insurance premiums and salaries must be paid if we are to appropriately maintain our collection of artifacts and continue our established programs.

   MHV’s vision is to be the premier interpretive centre of the Russian Mennonite story. We are pleased to be able to offer Southeastern Manitoba a tourist attraction visited by people from more than 50 countries every year. And we feel it is our responsibility and privilege to be a community builder, offering our community gathering places and creating festival events where we can celebrate together.

   Foundations for a Strong Future is still underway. We are very grateful for the significant support we have been receiving for our projects. Almost $900,000 is still needed to fulfill our plans, which are critical for the ongoing success of MHV. Will you join us in this ongoing project? Inquiries may be directed to Barry Dyck at 204-326-9661 or [email protected] Donations may be mailed to MHV, 231 PTH 12 North, Steinbach, MB. R5G 1T8 or processed through our website at www.mhv.ca.

Calendar of Events

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

Village News

Tractor Weekend

   For those of us who grew up on farms and drove tractors that were manufactured before about 1970, last weekend had a lot of nostalgia to offer. A Tractor Trek on June 10 and Tractor Show on June 11 kept vintage tractor enthusiasts quite occupied.

   The Tractor Trek is an annual fundraising event sponsored jointly by Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Eden Foundation. This was the eighth consecutive trek where vintage-tractor owners and enthusiasts canvassed friends and acquaintances for pledges and then drove their tractors more than 50 kilometers to earn those pledges. Forty-seven tractors were registered, and their pledges totaled just under $37,000 at the end of the day.

   This year the route took the group east to Aime Boivin’s place to see his network of miniature railroads and then on to the Dawson Trail Park in Richer. Many local residents were ready to serve us lunch at the park and cast a ballot for their favourite tractor. We enjoyed their warm reception. On the way back to MHV we stopped for coffee and Schnetje at Penner Pumpkins in the Giroux area.

   Dinner and an awards ceremony were held in the new MHV Pavilion. Awards were given in three classes: Antique (1950 and older), Classic (1951-1954), and Working Class (1955-1967). Within each of these classes there were four award categories: Judge’s Choice, Smoothest Running, Quietest Running, and Best Opportunity for Improvement.

   Additionally there were awards for the oldest driver – Peter W. Wiebe; oldest tractor – a 1940 Cockshutt 70 owned and driven by Bob Schmor; lowest horsepower – 1953 IHC Farmall Super C owned by Linden Reimer and driven by Chris Chetwynd; longest family-owned – 1954 Case DC4 owned by Werner Rempel and driven by Lorne Derkatch. The organizing committee was pleased and encouraged by the number of tractors involved, as well as the funds raised.

   Some of these vintage tractors were parked at MHV for the night and then placed on display on MHV’s Main Street on Sunday for the Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show. This proved to be a fine photo opportunity for numerous photographers.

   Sunday’s audience enjoyed a parade of the tractors, complete with information about each tractor and its owner. The parade was followed by a demonstration of starting one tractor by turning its pulley with another tractor. Perhaps the most challenging part of this demonstration was getting the two tractors aligned so that the belt transferring the power wouldn’t jump off the pulleys.

   One of the tractor games following this demonstration was the Chain Drop, where a long chain was hooked to the back of a tractor, and the operator had to move the tractor back and forth as quickly as possible, depositing every link of that chain into a two-foot-square box. A second game involved backing a four-wheeled trailer into a designated spot between four pylons. The degree of difficulty in this game can only be truly appreciated by those of us who have ever tried to back a four-wheeled trailer. The last game involved driving a tractor onto beams on a fulcrum and positioning the tractor in a place where it balances. In other words, the beams cannot be touching the ground at either end.

   Each event was timed to see who completed it in the shortest time. Drivers and spectators alike enjoyed these competitions.

   Amid the games, judging, driving and fundraising, there were many stories shared over those two days. These stories remind us of various elements of our heritage and in so doing, help create community among people with common interests. It is our hope that these events will be even bigger and better next year.

Calendar of Events

June 16-18: Cultural Booth and Waffles at Summer in the City

June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

Village News

Heritage Classic

   For some of our readers, the words “Heritage Classic” will immediately bring to mind our annual golf tournament, the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament. However, those who visited Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) this past Sunday will more likely think of our Heritage Classic Car Show. Both are valid associations with the term.

   The first Sunday in June has traditionally been the date of the Lions Club’s annual Wheels of Hope Lions Charity Car Show. For many years MHV has been the venue for this event. When the Lions Club gave notice that they would not be planning a car show for this year, we at MHV decided that such an event was too good and important to drop. And at that point MHV’s Heritage Classic Car Show was conceived.

   Patricia West, our Development Coordinator, clearly brought much of the energy and passion to the project. She had been attending the show since she was a small girl and couldn’t bear to see it disappear. So she rallied some staff participation, wrote a plan and a budget, recruited some volunteers, and delivered our first-ever MHV car show last Sunday.

   The project wasn’t actually quite as simple as this might sound. It has been suggested that some classic car owners won’t even consider taking their vehicle out of the garage if there are any significant clouds in the sky. We were also told there are other car shows within driving distance of our facility almost every weekend at this time of year, and possibly some during the week. Despite these potential hindrances, close to 100 classic cars and trucks, plus a few motorcycles, registered for judging at our newly minted event.

   MHV’s Heritage Classic Car Show is a great family event. Everyone who came last Sunday to see the beautifully restored vehicles also got to see the entire museum. We provided significant play value for children, offering horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, painted tattoos, an inflatable bouncer, a petting zoo and a lot of open space for running around. By planning and hosting such events, MHV serves our community by adding to the quality of life of its residents.

   We would like to begin planning our second annual Heritage Classic Car Show very shortly and would value suggestions and ideas about how we could make the show even better. Contact Patricia West at [email protected] or at 204-326-9661.

Tractor Show

   This coming Sunday, June 11, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the Southeast Implement Collectors will be staging their vintage tractor show at MHV. Dozens of beautiful old tractors will line our Village Main Street for the day. Tractor owners and operators will be participating in some skill-testing games, and there will also be a parade of all the tractors on display. This will be a great opportunity to mingle with other tractor enthusiasts and share stories and memories from the past. In addition to the tractor exhibits and activities, the entire village and Livery Barn Restaurant will be open for you to explore and enjoy. Surely a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Calendar of Events

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

June 16-18: Cultural Booth and Waffles at Summer in the City

June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day lunch buffet

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

Village News

Joining the Team
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are in the process of hosting tryouts for their team. The rookies arrived last week and the veterans joined them on Sunday. There are a lot more players trying out for the team than will be selected to stay. The team will play two preseason games to complete their tryouts and training. Then the real season begins.
At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) we don’t have a preseason or training camp where all prospective staff and volunteers are assessed “in action” and then only some are invited to stay. However we usually do have a lot of applicants vying for the few paid jobs we have to offer.
For our 2017 season, we have invited three rookies to join our staff, who will become well acquainted with many of our volunteers over the summer. Kayla Berg will be our Education Program Coordinator. She and Alanna Donohoe, our Education Program Assistant, will organize and administer our Education Program during the summer months. They will host thousands of students coming to MHV on school field trips, recruit and resource the volunteers who faithfully come to deliver this program, host daycare groups, and run the Pioneer Day Camps in July and August.
The third team member to join us is Tamara Unrau, who will serve as our Program Assistant. As the “right hand” for our Program Director, Anne Toews, she will assist with preparing for festival events and calling volunteers to invite participation at various levels. Our volunteers can expect to hear pleasant and enthusiastic approaches from all three of these rookies at some point this summer.
While many people typically apply for our paid jobs, there are even more people who happily volunteer in many and various roles we have at MHV. Two areas require the largest number of volunteers. The Education Program has already been mentioned. This is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys interacting with children. We need volunteers to explain what life was like in a one-room school, help with a craft or schnetje-baking, assist with horse-drawn or tractor-drawn wagon rides, tell a story of what is was like to spend a winter living in a Semlin, and other similar roles. This is normally a two to three-hour shift and usually ends around noon.
The other major volunteer opportunity is for our festival days, including Canada Day, Pioneer Days, and Fall on the Farm. Each day has about 100 volunteer shifts that need to be filled, so the opportunities (and the needs) are significant.
Additionally we need volunteers to work on carpentry projects, operate the old printing press, do demonstrations in the Blacksmith Shop, cut grass, and restore old vehicles.
There is no need to wait for one of our pleasant staff to invite you. Anyone looking for a volunteer opportunity should feel free to let us know by calling 204-326-9661. Our volunteers have the joy of a fulfilling role in an important community initiative and are also eligible to receive a 50% discount coupon for lunch in the Livery Barn Restaurant on the day they are volunteering. MHV is a great place to volunteer.
Calendar of Events
June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show
June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek
June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show
June 16-18: Waffle Booth at Summer in the City
June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day lunch buffet
July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

Village News

Pennant

   On May 19, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) opened the newly arrived traveling exhibit Nice Women Don't Want the Vote. Developed by the Manitoba Museum to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Manitoba women gaining the right to vote, this exhibit outlines the historical context of the Suffragist movement in Manitoba, identifies the women who had a direct influence in the movement, and acknowledges some of the movement's shortcomings.

   The exhibit title comes from a quote attributed to then-Manitoba Premier Sir Rodmand Roblin in a 1945 book by Nellie McClung: "'Now you forget all this nonsense about women voting,' [Roblin] went on in his suavest tones.'You're a fine, smart young woman, I can see that. And take it from me, nice women don't want the vote.'"

   Despite Premier Roblin's convictions, many women did want the vote. Calls for women's suffrage began as soon as Canada became a country, but women did not get the right to vote federally until 1918. Women in Quebec were only allowed to vote provincially starting in 1940.

   There were two prominent beliefs that underlaid women's belief in their right to vote, though most women did not fully subscribe to one or the other and operated under a mixture of the two. The first was known as equal rights feminism, the belief that women had the inherent right to participate in society as equals to men. The second was maternal feminism, based on the premise that women were perceived to be more inherently moral than men. As such, their participation in the political process would lead to improvements in the lives of women and their children, eliminate social problems, and bring progress to society. Many suffragists also fought for reforms to property laws, which denied women title to their deceased husbands' property, and for temperance, which called for the prohibition of alcohol.

   Although the movement was incredibly important to the lives of women, Nice Women Don't Want the Vote also touches upon some aspects that we find uncomfortable today. For example, enfranchisement (voting rights) was used as a means of assimilation. Women were only "worthy" of voting once they accepted the values of white, mainstream Anglo-Saxon Canadian society. For example, Mennonite men and women were denied the vote under Wartime Elections Act of 1917 due to their status as Conscientious Objectors. The suffragist movement also ignored the rights of Indigenous people. Until 1960, First Nations people, regardless of gender, were not allowed to vote unless they surrendered their status under the Indian Act.

   Ideas about what it means to be a woman have changed drastically in the last century, thanks to succeeding "waves" of feminism, but we still have a ways to go. This makes one think. What other unwritten rules or assumptions do we use to exclude people or groups from participating fully in today's society? What will people think about our culture in a hundred years? 

   After our visitors have gone through this exhibit, we invite each one to vote at our voting kiosk. The option is given to comment on three questions: "What is one issue facing Canadian women today that has yet to be resolved?"; "If you could say one thing to a suffragist from 100 years ago, what would it be?"; "I want to vote because..."

   Nice Women Don't Want the Vote may be viewed in the Gerhard Ens Gallery until June 19.

   "Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live? Do we not bear our part in citizenship? Do we not help build the Empire? Give us our due!" - Nellie McClung

Calendar of Events

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

June 16-18: Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day lunch buffet

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

PHOTO: Pennant

CAPTION: Suffragist pennant, early 20th century. See this and more at Nice Women Don’t Want the Vote, at Mennonite Heritage Village’s Gerhard Ens Gallery until June 19th.

Village News

Open for Business

   Our new event centre, built to replace the big white tent and give us much-improved facilities for programing and community use, served as a very useful overflow facility for our restaurant’s Mother’s Day buffet. Our weekly Sunday Buffet in the Livery Barn Restaurant (LBR) is popular on most Sundays, but it is always most popular on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

   Perhaps the quaint setting in a “barn” or the relaxing walk from the parking lot to the restaurant is the attraction. But more likely it’s the great food and friendly service that keeps people coming back.

   This year just over 400 people chose the LBR as the place to treat “Mom” with a lunch she didn’t need to cook. The restaurant itself only has seating capacity for about 100 people, so additional space was needed. Since the weather was a little too cold and windy to eat at our outdoor picnic tables, our new building saved the day. We had set up just over 100 chairs in there on Saturday, assuming that 200 total seats would be enough as people came and left over a period of three hours. But the extraordinary turnout sent us scrambling to roll out a few more tables and unpack six more boxes of new chairs. In the end, we did find seating for everyone inside the two buildings.

   Features of our new building include glulam beams, a wood ceiling, six large glass overhead doors to allow in a lot of light, and a polished concrete floor. Visitor’s comments about both the venue and the food were positive. We are thankful to the Penn-Co people who worked extra hard to get the building ready in time for this event.

Chortitz Oak Trees

   There are two oak trees in our village that are direct descendants of the great Chortitz Oak Tree in Ukraine. One of them, the one you see when you walk out of the Village Centre onto the village street, produces acorns every year. The squirrels are very quick to pick them up for their winter food supply, but someone managed to beat the squirrels to the harvest some years ago.

   Those acorns were gathered and planted, and little oak trees began to grow in a little plot on the west side of the Peters barn. By now, some of these trees are six and seven feet tall, so we realized it was high time to move them to permanent locations.

   Our main village street is lined with trees, mostly Manitoba Maples. In some places, the trees have died and been removed, leaving open spots. This week we filled nine of those open spots with nine oak trees transplanted from the little plot. Thanks to Dan and Trish Friesen of Timber Trails Tree Farm for bringing their very efficient tree-moving machine to make this job so much easier. The transplanted trees are generation-three descendants of the great Chortitz Oak Tree. The stories of this historic tree will live on at MHV.

Calendar of Events

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

Login