Village News

“What do these stones mean?”

   Last weekend I attended the annual gathering of the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba. Several speakers used stones as images to help illustrate their specific point. One of these speakers referred to an event described in the fourth chapter of the biblical book of Joshua.

   In this narrative we find the migrating Israelites confronted by the Jordan River at flood stage on their trek from Egypt to the “Promised Land.” After miraculously clearing a dry path for them through the river, God instructs one representative of each of the twelve Israelite tribes to take a stone from the middle of the river and together build an altar with them on the other side. The purpose of this altar is “to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them [what happened here]. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6 & 7 NIV)

   A river at flood stage would be a huge barrier to this migrating group of more than 600,000 people, especially with no bridges or ferries in sight. Miraculously the waters were parted, and all the people and their livestock and possessions made it to the other side. The altar was intended to be a reminder to future generations of God’s miraculous provision for the Israelite people - an experience well worth remembering and recounting.

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) might similarly be considered a type of “altar.” It is a “memorial” designed and maintained to remind current and future generations of God’s faithfulness to another people group on a very challenging journey. Spending an hour or two at MHV is a great way for younger people to vividly encounter stories about the experiences of their ancestors, including some of the “Jordan Rivers” they had to cross and how they were enabled to do so.

   While this museum primarily tells the story of the Mennonites who came from Russia to Canada as refugees, beginning in 1874, MHV can also be a reminder to people of other ethnicities of their own stories of immigration and “Jordan River” crossings. Many of the pioneer elements in the Mennonite experience which we display through our artifacts and exhibits are also common to other ethnic groups, such as spinning wheels, butter churns, horse-drawn sleighs, and wood-fired cook stoves.

   Refugees arriving in Canada more recently have come from a wide variety of countries and bring memories of all kinds of experiences with them. It is important that they also find ways to preserve these memories, both the difficult ones and the joyful ones.

   Our daughter and son-in-law recently took their two children to Disney World and related venues in Florida. Undoubtedly one of the family’s objectives in this excursion was to have a good time. Perhaps equally important in the minds of the parents was a desire to help their children build wonderful childhood memories, memories that add to their quality of life and can’t be taken away from them.

   Granted, family trips to Disney World have very little in common with refugee migrations. But our grandchildren will now retain great memories of their recent Florida excursion. The ancient Israelites most surely took with them spectacular memories of crossing the Jordan River on dry ground. And our ancestors who migrated from another country in times of distress have left us with numerous artifacts and stories of their own memories. So when our children ask “What do these stones (museum artifacts and exhibits) mean?” let’s ensure that they get answers that preserve the memories of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents . . . .

Calendar of Events

March 21 – 7:30 PM, Annual General Meeting

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Village News

Olympics, Controversies, and the Mysteries of Soviet Tea Glass Holders

   As the 2018 Winter Olympics closed in South Korea on Sunday night, my mind wandered to the artefact collection at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This connection might not be one most people would naturally make, so let me explain...

   In 2016, Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History at the Manitoba Museum and MHV’s former Senior Curator, spotted a set of six metal tea glass holders (also called “Podstakannik”) at a sale at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. Noting their unique style and obvious roots in the Soviet Union, he donated them to the artefact collection at MHV. This is where our story begins.

   Although they have earlier roots, glass holders took on a new kind of significance during the Soviet era. Tea in Russia was often served in glasses rather than cups. To provide stability and enable a tea drinker to enjoy the beverage comfortably without touching the hot glass, holders with handles were designed, into which the tea glass was inserted.

   During the Soviet era, these tea glass holders, and the prominent cultural place they occupied in Soviet society, were used by the Soviet government as prime advertising space. All six of the Podstakannik in the Sawatzky donation showcase various achievements of the Soviet era.

   All of them feature a design of grapes and foliage stamped onto the silver-plated copper and nickel alloy. The fronts of four out of the six depict an image of a globe above a branch with leaves on the left and a satellite on the right. In the centre of the globe is the Kremlin, with satellites (including the famous Sputnik 1) shooting upwards towards a crescent moon. The front of another of the glass holders features the image of the Soviet hammer and sickle in front of a building with light beams crisscrossing the sky.

   It is the sixth and final Podstakannik which connected this year’s Olympics and its related controversies to MHV’s artefact collection. The front of this one features the prominent image of the Olympic rings in front of the iconic Olympic torch. Above this there are a star and a flag bearing the year 1980. That was the year Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics and another year of Olympic controversy involving Russia, characterized perhaps most memorably by the US-led boycott of the games as a protest against the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.

   Although their history contains some gaps, we do know that the tea glass holders residing at MHV belonged to Heinrich Hamm, whose family was a part of the “Great Trek” out of the Soviet Union in 1943-1945. While they made it to Germany and received permission to immigrate to Canada, the family’s history states that Heinrich and his older brother Woldemar were separated from their parents as they were getting ready to board the ship, ready to emigrate.  Woldemar was shot and Heinrich was captured by the Soviets and shipped off to Siberia, where he was forced to work in a gold mine. He was finally able to come to Canada in 1965.

   The mystery about these tea glass holders is how they came to be in Heinrich’s possession. From analyzing the design on the four holders celebrating the space achievements of the Soviet Union, we can assume that they could have been manufactured as early as the late 1950s. It would therefore be feasible that Heinrich could have had them in his possession when he came to Canada. Others, however, like the one decorated with the 1980 Olympic rings, was clearly produced long after he left the Soviet Union. We can only guess that perhaps he received this Podstakannik (or even all of them, for that matter) from friends still living in the Soviet Union. Some artefacts don’t give away their secrets that easily.

   These six artefacts have been in MHV’s collection for over two years now, but what brought them to our attention again recently was an unsolicited package we received in the mail a few weeks back. The package contained two tea glass holders with the identical space-themed design as the four in the 2016 Sawatzky donation. What makes these two unique, however, is that they came in their original, mint-condition packaging. Additionally, one of the boxes included a small slip of paper, a type of “Certificate of Authenticity,” also in pristine condition. The certificate indicates that the glass holders were produced as limited editions and that the item inside the box was #411 and was purchased in 1986. While these artefacts still require more research, their addition to the collection helps contextualize the earlier tea glass holders from the Sawatzky donation and help us better understand some of these modern artefacts.

   As a side note, we generally prefer not to receive artefacts  without prior consultation (as in the case above). It is usually a very complicated process to connect with the legal owners, and we need to get a history of the object in order to know if it would fit in our collection. So if you have something you would like us to consider for our museum’s collection, please give us a call and ask to speak to one of the curators. We would be more than happy to discuss your object with you.

Calendar of Events

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Image Caption:

Three of the tea glass holders in MHV’s collection. On the left is the one from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and on the right, the one with the Soviet hammer and sickle (both from the 2016 Sawatzky donation). In the centre is one of the space-themed tea glass holders, with its original packaging, which recently arrived at MHV.

Village News

Winter Carnival

   Planning an outdoor winter festival is risky business, as attendance can easily and significantly be affected by inclement weather. For this reason, we are thankful that last Saturday was a pleasant day weather-wise. A brief spell of cold afternoon wind didn’t seem to discourage the children and parents enjoying our first Winter Carnival at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).

   From 10 AM till 4 PM, guests came to check out our various outdoor activities. A bonfire provided warm-ups as needed, as well as an opportunity to create s’mores. Music DJ’d by Summer Bounce Entertainment enhanced the overall atmosphere.

   The most popular activity appeared to be the horse-drawn bobsleigh rides. Menno Barkman and John Krahn graciously gave of their time to provide the rides, using Menno’s team of Morgans. The hard-packed snow on our village streets made a suitable track for them.

   We are grateful to the City of Steinbach for creating a large outdoor skating rink for our guests to enjoy. There are no boards around it, so it’s not a hockey venue, but a number of guests brought their skates and enjoyed the ice surface for pleasure skating. Sledding opportunities were provided by Fast Brothers, who kindly moved a bunch of snow on our yard to create a small hill.

   In addition to these activities, guests also enjoyed ice bowling, mini-golf, plank (smoosh) races, tug-of-war, and a beanbag toss, complements of sponsors such as The LumberZone, Birch Auto Supplies, Metalmaster Autobody, Firewood 2 Go and PBX. The temperature was just a little too cold to stage the planned snowman-building contest. Perhaps we’ll try a snow-sculpturing contest next year instead.

   In the Village Centre, a beverage bar sponsored by Sweet Life Tea and Coffee Ltd. offered hot chocolate, tea and coffee, as well as some snacks. A canteen staffed by volunteers provided hotdogs and cold drinks sponsored by Sobeys. Each table in the canteen offered one or two table games for guests to enjoy while they warmed their fingers and toes.

   It’s appropriate for MHV to stage such an event, as our museum is an established meeting place in the community. We host three summer festivals attended by thousands of local visitors, as well as tourists from far and wide. We like to help people remember where they came from and how they got here. This Winter Carnival focused on activities that go back many decades, maybe longer. No electronic games were part of this carnival.

   The fact that so many individuals, businesses and organizations stepped up to contribute products and services for this event tells us there is an appetite for a winter carnival such as this in our community. This was our first attempt at staging one. Although attendance was modest, it was clear that our guests were having a great time. Is there enough interest in our community to build on this event and stage another one next year? We would love to hear thoughts and suggestions from our readers. We’d like to know how you think this festival could be enhanced to provide an even more valuable service to our community.

Calendar of Events

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

March 30, closed for Good Friday

May 1, Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the outdoor village

Village News

“I Love to Read”

   Village Books and Gifts, located at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), specializes in a large variety of unique books and gifts that help tell the story of the Russian Mennonites, their immigration to Canada, and the many contributions they made along the way.

   I am excited about the variety of historical, hard-to-find items on our gift shop shelves. Whether you want to cozy up to the fireplace with a good book, or invite friends and family over for a games night, we have something for everyone. Our current business hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and we are open year-round.

   February has been designated as “I Love to Read Month” across Canada. In celebration of this nationwide focus, MHV invites you to our first annual “An Evening with the Authors” on Thursday, February 22, at 7:00 PM in our Auditorium. Five authors will showcase their newest book, answer your questions and sign purchased copies. Light refreshments will follow. Let me introduce the authors to you:

Luann E. Hiebert:

   “Luann lives in Steinbach, MB. She recently received her PhD from the University of Manitoba (2016) — studying contemporary Canadian prairie women’s poetry. She is an adjunct instructor teaching English Literature courses at Providence University College (Otterburne, MB), and a course at SBC (Steinbach Bible College).

   “Her debut poetry collection — What Lies Behind (Turnstone Press, 2014) — was shortlisted for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book and the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry (2015). Her poems have been published in magazines, such as Rhubarb, the Society, Lemon Hound, and Prairie Fire, and more recently, anthologized in 29 Mennonite Poets (Mennonite Literary Society, 2016) and the forthcoming Tree Poems Anthology (League of Canadian Poets, 2018).”

Eleanore Chornoboy:

   “Eleanor Hildebrand Chornoboy published her first novel — a historical fiction, Katarina: Mennonite Girl from Russia, in November, 2017. She has published two collections of vignettes about Mennonite life in rural Manitoba, Faspa: A Snack of Mennonite Stories, and Faspa with Jast: A Snack of Mennonite Stories told by Family and Guests.

   “In addition, she has published two children’s books, Snow Angels and Pajama Tears. Currently she is researching family stories. Eleanor lives in Winnipeg.”

Betty Barkman:

   “Betty has lived on the banks of Joubert Creek for many years and loves it. Betty’s favorite genre is writing true stories, like an autobiography sort of but that reads like a storyteller’s version that is not only easy to read but also intriguing and alive. Betty will be presenting her seventh book.”

Shirley Hiebert:

   “Shirley Hiebert is the daughter of Gertrude Harder from East Steinbach (formerly Hunga Wäare Dee). She is the niece of Bishop Henry K. and Mary Schellenberg. Captain Hiebert was killed in a plane crash in 1993 in northern Ontario. Shirley's career has been in health care, much of it in remote northern communities as a nurse practitioner and researcher. Her PhD research was done in collaboration with First Nations. Her newly released The Captain's Widow written as a creative non-fiction tribute to the people who had a role in her journey is her first book.”

Armin Wiebe:

   “Armin Wiebe is the author of five novels, his latest novel being Grandmother, Laughing. His stage play, The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, is set in the mystical community of Gutenthal. Tatsea, set in Canada’s subarctic at the time of first contact between the Tłı̨chǫ people and the fur traders, was awarded the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. Armin’s Shorts is a collection of short fiction written over a period of more than 30 years.”

Calendar of Events

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

Village News

VN 2018 02 08

New Exhibit (by Jenna Klassen)

   As we patiently count down to spring, we in the Curatorial Department at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) are enthusiastically planning our 2018 exhibit for our Gerhard Enns Gallery. This exhibit focuses on the Mennonite wall clocks that have decorated Mennonite homes and been passed down through the generations. It explores the Mennonite craftsmen who built the clocks, the role of these clocks in Mennonite culture, the changes and differences in clock mechanisms and designs, and the beautiful restorations done by Arthur Kroeger in recent years.

   We are excited to display approximately thirty clocks in this exhibit, many coming from the clock owners in our community. MHV boasts seventeen of our own wall clocks, built by various clockmakers, which demonstrate diverse decorative designs and a range of mechanism complexities.

   To make this exhibit come to life, this year we are partnering with the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation (KCHF), with additional support from the Heritage Grants Program of the Province of Manitoba and the Mennonite Heritage Village Auxiliary.

   Inspired by Arthur Kroeger and his passion for restoring Mennonite clocks, the KCHF has dedicated itself to continuing Arthur’s work. The KCHF is committed to preserving the history of Mennonite clockmaking, Mennonite history as told by the histories of these clocks, and the memories the clocks still hold for their owners today. To do this, the KCHF is professionally photographing Mennonite clocks around the world, documenting their histories through research and interviews with the clock owners, and compiling detailed information about these clocks so we can better understand these historical objects.

   Our partnership with the KCHF has given us at MHV resources that we would not have had access to without this relationship. In addition to financial support, the KCHF has generously given us use of their research materials, beautiful professional photography of clocks already cataloged for their virtual collection, and their staff resources. They have also connected us with clock owners willing to let us display their historical clocks in this joint exhibit.

   Currently, the KCHF is creating a virtual museum where this information will be accessible with just the click of a mouse to all who are interested. More information can be found at

   Although spring feels far off, preparation for such an exhibit begins early. In the first weeks of the new year we decide the themes we’d like to explore in the exhibit, design the layout with the graphic designer, select which artefacts or objects will best illustrate our themes, and write the initial text for the interpretive panels.

   For me, exhibit writing has been the most challenging part of this process so far. In university I became accustomed to writing lengthy essays, often over twenty pages long. While this was challenging at times, I have come to learn in the last few weeks that it is even more challenging to discuss an entire topic in just two hundred words (or less)! There is often far more information than space to say everything you would like to say, so exhibit writing becomes a hard lesson in learning what can be left out and how to write the remainder very succinctly to make every word count!

   Despite its challenges, creating an exhibit is an exciting and creative part of being a curator! We look forward to sharing our hard work with you when this exhibit opens in May.

Winter Carnival (by Patricia West)

   We are super excited to open our outdoor village to you on February 17 for our brand new event, the Winter Carnival. We will have so many fun things happening that day. There will be a tug-of-war contest, a hood hustle (try it out - it’s a lot of fun), snowman building (if the weather is suitable), ice-skating, bowling, sledding and much more. We have the City of Steinbach to thank for their hard work creating our skating rink.

   Warm yourself in the Village Centre with hot chocolate, coffee or tea from our Hot Chocolate Bar, sponsored in part by Sweet Life Tea. There will also be a canteen on site to purchase lunch and snacks.

   It has been fun creating this new event for you, and we hope you will come out and enjoy the day with us on Saturday, February 17, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission to this event is free. 

Calendar of Events:

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors




Image Caption: This wall clock was made by one of the clockmaking Kroegers in the 1910s. It was brought to Canada in 1924.

Village News

Robert G 2018 01 30

New Program Manager

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will be welcoming a number of new team members in 2018. This week we are pleased to introduce Robert Goertzen, who has joined us to take on the role of Program Manager. Robert is a lifelong resident of the Steinbach area and has been involved in various aspects of community life, including work, recreation and church. He has a bachelor’s degree in history, with particular interest in Mennonite history.

   As MHV’s Program Manager, Robert will oversee our Program Department, which includes three major focus areas:

   Our Volunteer Program is crucial to the health of our museum. Museums typically rely heavily on volunteer labour, and we are no exception. Robert will be responsible for the recruitment, supervision, training, and recognition of many of our volunteers. This is a critical role, given the significant number of volunteers we need to call on throughout the year and the amount of turnover our volunteer pool experiences.

   Our Education Program provides off-site learning opportunities for many students in Southern Manitoba. Each year we serve between 3,000 and 4,000 students, coming from our Southeast region, from Winnipeg, and sometimes from beyond. Although most of our student visitors descend on us in May and June, to take advantage of our outdoor village, Robert will be looking for ways to provide education programing throughout the year.

   MHV’s festivals are a large part of our service to our community. Each year we provide three major festivals: Canada Day (in partnership with the City of Steinbach), Pioneer Days (in partnership with the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce), and Fall on the Farm. These festivals help to bring our community together, develop tourism in the Southeast area, and generally make Steinbach a great place to live. Robert will be taking the lead in planning and delivering these festivals.

   While these three program areas are each separate “deliverables” in Robert’s job description, they are all focused on increasing MHV’s relevance in our community, enabling us to continue telling the stories of the Russian Mennonites, and engaging with an essential community of volunteers. We are pleased to have Robert on our team to lead this important part of MHV’s work.

Guys & Dolls Gala

   One of our new community events coming up in February is the Guys & Dolls Gala. Here’s what Patricia West, the event organizer, has to say about it:

   “We are having an exciting and rather intense start to the new year here at MHV. So many new ideas are coming forward which are turning into new opportunities for us, resulting in new events for you.

   “One such idea has evolved into our February 16 Guys & Dolls Gala for students in Grades 10–12. We are very excited to host this 1920’s-themed teen social. Come dressed in 1920’s attire (gangster/flapper style) or whatever you’re comfortable in. We aren’t picky! You’ll discover that the foyer of Mennonite Heritage Village has been transformed into a replica of a back alley. With lights off, the stars will guide your way along a brick-walled path from the entrance doors to the Auditorium.

   “Activities will be happening in both the Auditorium and the Multi-Purpose Room. Enter the Auditorium and dance the night away. Supreme Entertainment will be DJ-ing the event and will also be providing a photo booth. The photos will be printed so that you can take home memories of your night.

   “In the Multi-Purpose Room, you will find a Prohibition-style games/“smoking” room. (We would like to thank Retro Chique Antique Shop for allowing us to use items for décor.) Pull up a chair and play some poker, crokinole or other such board games. Maybe even grab a “cigar” (chocolate of course) and have a blast with your friends.

   “Head on up to the “bar” and sample some of our Prohibition-themed beverages (non-alcoholic) with a twist. Tip our lovely bartenders while you are there or, in tradition, ask their advice on anything you wish.

   “It is shaping up to be a great night. Many very excited teens have already rushed out to get their tickets for Friday, February 16, from 8 PM – 12 AM. Keep in mind, we have limited seating, so you may want to buy yours today. Tickets will be required to enter.”

Questions?  Call Patricia at 204-326-9661 or email at [email protected]

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

Village News

Mennonite Historical Society of Canada

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is an institutional member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC). Society members gathered in Calgary January 18–20 for committee and board meetings, as well as the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Approximately 25 representatives from British Columbia to Quebec participated in these meetings.

   The objectives of the MHSC are “to carry out activities that aid in the preservation and interpretation of the history of the Mennonites in Canada, and to work together with other national and international organizations to aid in the preservation and interpretation of the history of Mennonites worldwide.” Examples of projects the society has either initiated or supported include: The initiation of the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), a rich online resource for Mennonite and Anabaptist history; the development and maintenance of the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID), an online database of historical images, available to researchers as well as the general public; and the granting of Awards of Excellence to individuals who have made exceptional contributions in the preservation and interpretation of Mennonite and Anabaptist history.

   MHSC’s membership includes provincial Mennonite historical societies, Mennonite church conferences, and other related institutions such as Mennonite Heritage Archives, Mennonite Heritage Village, and Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies. The annual membership gatherings give individual representatives the opportunity to develop relationships which facilitate networking beyond the meeting days.

   The Mennonite Archival Image Database is a relatively new initiative. The database itself is still being built, and users are still learning how to use it. The annual MHSC gathering provides opportunities for user training as well as further development of the system.

   This year’s MHSC Award of Excellence was given to Henry D. and Erna Goerzen from Alberta. Both were present to receive the award. They have been active in preserving archival materials for the Conference of Mennonites in Alberta. Their past contributions include the securing of a steel grain bin against moisture and rodents, then building shelves inside for the storage of archival material until a more suitable place was found. Henry also travelled in Alberta to document stories of conscientious objectors, some of which were later published in the book Alternative Service for Peace in Canada During World War II, 1941-1946.

   The MHSC Executive Committee elected at the recent meeting is almost identical to last year’s committee. Royden Loewen – Chair; Richard Thiessen – Vice Chair; Alf Redekopp – Secretary; Conrad Stoesz – Treasurer; and Barb Draper – Member-at-Large. We appreciate the time and talent these people bring to their roles in order to maintain a functioning society.

   The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada is now fifty years old and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at its next AGM, to be held in Winnipeg in November of this year. To help celebrate this milestone, the Center for Transnational Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg will collaborate with MHSC to stage a 50th anniversary conference around the theme A People of Diversity: Mennonites in Canada since 1970.

   The MHSC is a great example of how institutions of similar interests are able to support and encourage one another and also work together to accomplish things that no institution could do alone.

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening With the Authors

Village News

What’s New?

   Fifty years ago many wedding receptions took place in church basements or gymnasiums. Today’s couples have a wide variety of venue options to consider as they plan their wedding. Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) has been in the wedding-hosting business for quite some time, and our offering of venues has recently increased.

   On January 20 and 21 we will again have an exhibit at the Wonderful Wedding Show at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. We will be promoting the numerous unique venues available at MHV. For anyone who has fond memories of time spent at our museum or has a specific interest in a heritage setting, our facility has much to offer.

   Those preferring to be married in a church have two locations to consider. Our Old Colony Worship House, built in 1881, offers a beautiful timber-frame structure for a truly elegant ceremony. Our 1920s-vintage Lichtenau Church is quaint and reminiscent of a more-recent and traditional era. Each structure offers an acoustical quality that eliminates the need for a public-address system.

   Couples interested in a less-traditional setting for their ceremony have numerous options. Over the years, we have seen wedding ceremonies take place beside the windmill, on the deck of the windmill, in a barn, on our Main Street in front of the Blacksmith Shop, beside the constantly flowing artesian well, and many other places. We try to accommodate any requested location.

   Wedding receptions are largely held in our Auditorium or in our new Summer Pavilion. With its glass overhead doors, the latter offers an “outdoor” feel with protection from unpredictable weather. The more traditional Auditorium provides air-conditioned comfort and beautiful cedar beams and ceiling. On occasion, wedding receptions have even been held at picnic tables under shade trees in our outdoor food court.

   Wedding photo opportunities at MHV are second to none. Our heritage buildings, pond, trees, white fences, windmill, and even the animal pens provide great backgrounds for these memory-making photos. (On a recent occasion we observed the donkeys photobombing a wedding photography session.) Our log house with its newly thatched roof offers another unique background.

   Check out our informative exhibit and talk with our staff at the Wonderful Wedding Show on January 20 & 21. Photos and rental information are also available under “Services” and “Weddings and Events” on our website at

New Employment Opportunity

   MHV is looking for a person to manage the rental of our facilities for weddings and other events. This full-time position involves meeting with clients to promote and sell our facilities and then ensuring that everything is in place for a successful event. The complete job description is available on our website at .

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening With the Authors

Village News

Looking Ahead in 2018

   The new year is underway, and we are developing plans for new things as well as usual things here at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). We will be working especially hard at increasing our level of relevance in our community.

   With 17 heritage buildings to maintain, over 16,000 artifacts to preserve and keep track of, and new exhibits to design and install, our Curatorial Department will have no shortage of work. MHV’s theme for 2018 will be centered around clocks, so the exhibit being developed for our Gerhard Ens Gallery will explore this subject matter. A refurbishing of this gallery is being planned prior to installing the new exhibit.

   Our curators will also be establishing priorities with respect to refurbishment of heritage structures. The deck of the windmill needs to be replaced; the Livery Barn Restaurant, the Printery, and the Reimer Store all need fresh coats of paint; and the barn in our barnyard needs both paint and new shingles. We have a volunteer in place to do some of the painting and would welcome more volunteers so that a paint crew can be created. From time to time, we also think and talk about a major renovation of our Main Gallery, but that matter is unlikely to get much attention this year.

   MHV’s programs will be experiencing change in 2018, due to the recent retirement of Anne Toews, our Program Director for the past 11 seasons. Our new Program Manager, to be introduced shortly, will bring new perspectives for our volunteer program, education program and festivals. Our programing priorities for 2018 will include the exploration of new opportunities for involvement with our community. We already have plans in place for a Guys and Dolls Gala for high school students on February 16 and a Winter Carnival for families on February 17. But along with the “new,” you may rest assured that we will continue to plan MHV’s traditional celebrations - Canada Day, Pioneer Days, and Fall on the Farm - as well.

   Our Fundraising and Public-Relations Department has been developing a number of events and initiatives for 2018. MHV will again work with Eden Foundation to host the annual Tractor Trek. We will also hold our annual Heritage Classic Golf Tournament in August. Our Sponsorship Program has been tweaked to provide interesting options for all sizes of businesses. A new fundraising initiative has recently been launched. Choose Your Own Adventure Raffle offers the winner one of five different international trips. Raffle tickets are currently on sale at MHV and will continue to be available through the summer.

   Of course the big news for our Facility Rentals department is that we now have a new venue available. Our Summer Pavilion has already garnered considerable attention and promises to be popular for company picnics, family gatherings, class reunions, wedding receptions and other activities. Meeting rooms in the Village Centre, as well as some of our heritage buildings, will continue to be available as in previous years.

   Museums are sometimes assumed to be places where nothing new ever happens. At MHV, we will do our best to dispel that perception and keep our community engaged here season to season and year after year.

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening With the Authors

Village News

MHV Membership
What is the membership value proposition at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV)? This is one of the questions the Membership Committee of MHV’s Board of Directors asked itself last year. In other words, why would anyone want to be a formal member of MHV?
Is it because they value the preservation of Mennonite artifacts and history? Is it because they like to visit the museum frequently and therefore value the free admission that members receive? Is it because they see MHV as a significant social gathering place that enhances the quality of life in our community? Or is it because they value the opportunity to participate in decision-making at MHV’s Annual General Meeting (AGM)? The committee’s conclusion was that none of these factors alone would attract a large group of members.
For years, our members have had free access to events at MHV; received our newsletter, Village Voice, free of charge; enjoyed the right to vote at our AGM; received a 10% discount on merchandise purchased in Village Books and Gifts; and qualified for free or discounted admission at most of Manitoba’s other Signature Museums. But the committee felt that additional membership benefits should be offered.
At the November meeting of our Board of Directors it was decided that the following new membership benefits will be added to the existing benefits: a 10% discount on program fees, facility rentals, and restaurant purchases; a 50% discount on admission fees for members’ guests; and eligibility for free guided tours which will be offered from time to time. These additions will substantially enhance MHV’s membership value proposition.
Membership options at MHV include Life Memberships and Annual Memberships. Our Life Membership was originally designed for couples only. When couples with young children inquired about a Life Membership, we had to inform them that this type of membership was not suited to a family. However, we are now able to offer a reconfigured Life Membership which accommodates all situations. Beginning January 1, 2018, all Life Memberships purchased will be individual memberships which include the member’s dependent children under the age of 18. This means that everyone is treated equally: singles, young families, retired couples and everyone in between. All existing Life Memberships will remain unchanged.
But perhaps the most exciting news is that the MHV Board of Directors has also decided to reduce the cost of Annual Memberships. Whereas an Annual Membership for a couple or a family was previously priced at $80, the 2018 price will be $50. The cost of an Annual Membership for a single person has been reduced from $40 to $30. This brings MHV’s Annual Membership fees more in line with those of other similar organizations.
MHV is here to serve its constituency by preserving and interpreting artifacts and stories, by creating community festivals and hosting community events, and by attracting tourism with economic benefits for the community at large. This is most likely to happen if we are able to engage our constituency and, at the same time, make ends meet financially.
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

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