Looking Back at 2017
To be an historian, one must enjoy looking back in time. While this column often refers to things from the distant past, on this occasion it is appropriate to reflect on the recent past and share some of the significant happenings at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in 2017.
The year began with two major capital projects underway. The Summer Pavilion was under construction, and the Waldheim house was in the middle of a major restoration. Both projects were successfully completed later in the year. Several other projects were also completed: The windmill received a comprehensive maintenance checkup by a Dutch millwright; the makeup-air unit on the roof of the Village Centre was replaced; and many of our indoor and outdoor lights were upgraded to LED bulbs and fixtures.
Curatorial staff designed and installed a new exhibit addressing our 2017 theme, Storied Places. Whereas students from the Steinbach Regional Secondary School have been developing exhibits for us for several years already, two classes from Landmark schools also contributed to our theme this year. Visitors to our gallery were invited to create a storied map of Steinbach. In spring we also hosted the Manitoba Museum’s exhibit Nice Women Don’t Want the Vote in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Our Main Gallery saw the addition of an electronic world map showing the locations of Mennonite populations around the world.
In addition to making waffles and catering for a variety of events, the MHV Auxiliary presented the film The Last Objectors at the annual spring Film Night, collaborated with a local community quilting guild to present the Threads of Time Quilt Show, and staged a wonderful evening of multi-ethnic story telling around the theme Celebrating 150 Years of Immigration.
Our Annual General Meeting in March saw two new board members elected to our Board of Directors. Jeremy Peters and Matt Wieler, two local businessmen, began their first terms of service on the board and have already begun to contribute. They provided significant input toward some changes to our membership offering and policy, which will be announced in next week’s column.
The Steinbach and Area Garden Club not only continued to volunteer many hours to maintain both flower and vegetable gardens at MHV, they also re-landscaped the west side of the Auditorium with fresh topsoil and a variety of new plantings.
Our Fundraising Department again managed several successful events and a strong sponsorship program. The two new events initiated in 2017 were the Heritage Classic Car Show and the Trip Raffle, the latter ongoing till November 2018.
This past year saw a number of staff transitions at MHV. Dora Penner decided to retire after several years as our Food Services Manager, and Yuliya Asraf stepped in to take her place. Alexandra Kroeger, our Assistant Curator, moved on, and Jenna Klassen has taken on her role. Anne Toews also chose retirement after numerous years as our Program Director. A new manager for that department will be introduced in the new year.
On July 1, approximately 5,000 guests joined us to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. The City of Steinbach graciously loaned us their Canada 150 mural to be part of this celebration and to enhance our summer education program. Our Pioneer Days weekend took on a new glow with Friday-night fireworks, sponsored by Richardson Pioneer.
On the second weekend in June, we focused attention on collectors and lovers of vintage tractors. The annual Tractor Trek fundraiser, done in collaboration with the Eden Foundation, took place on Saturday, and the Southeast Implement Collectors staged their Tractor Show on Sunday.
In spring we partnered with the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society as we hosted a second annual lecture evening. This year’s topic was Food, Family and Spirituality. Plans are currently underway for the 2018 edition of this event.
Many Protestant denominations celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. At MHV, we were delighted that St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church chose us as their venue for a reformation celebration. Our Auditorium was full that evening.
We are grateful for the wonderful community initiatives we were able to be a part of, for all the blessings our guests and our constituency brought us, and for the things we were able to contribute to our community. We anticipate that 2018 will bring different but equally rich experiences and offerings.
Calendar of Events
December 23 – January 7, closed for Christmas
February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service
February 16, Guys & Dolls Gala
February 17, Winter Carnival

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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.

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