Village News

Pioneer Days

   Pioneer Days is one of Steinbach’s signature summer festivals and the climax of our summer season at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This year the festival runs from July 29 through August 1, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and closing at 6:00 p.m. daily. As usual, we will pack as much fun and education into those four days as we possibly can.

   There are a number of reasons why we host this summer festival. One of the primary purposes is to promote the work of MHV within our constituency. With cooperation from the City of Steinbach and the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, this festival is always initiated on Friday morning with the Pioneer Days Parade. As usual, this year’s parade will start at the Fire Hall and make its way downtown along Main Street. Thousands of spectators will likely gather on the sidewalks to enjoy this event. Assuming suitable weather, we expect to see up to 7,000 guests visiting our museum grounds during those four festival days. While many of our guests will be from Southeastern Manitoba, there will also likely be many from Winnipeg and other parts of the province, as well as other provinces and countries.

   Another significant reason for holding Pioneer Days at MHV is to expose our guests to the culture and heritage of the Russian Mennonite people. Our heritage buildings will be staffed by volunteer interpreters who will explain to our guests what a worship service was like in the Old Colony Worship House, how a school classroom functioned differently in the Public School as compared to the Private School, and what unique features can be found in the Chortitz House Barn. Volunteers will also do pioneer demonstrations such as bread baking in the outdoor oven, steam-powered threshing, blacksmithing, log sawing, and butter making. In some cases, guests will be given the opportunity to try their hand at some of these activities.

   Organizing and staging Pioneer Days also creates meaningful activity around which our community can gather and nurture community spirit. In addition to parade involvement, people are invited to volunteer for a wide variety of roles during this festival. There are opportunities to welcome guests at the admission gates, help guests find a place to park their cars, prepare and serve food in the Short-Order Booth, drive the barrel train and the horse-drawn wagons, and many others.

   There will be bands playing in the tent each afternoon, providing entertainment for those who are enjoying waffles and vanilla sauce around picnic tables, as well as those who bring lawn chairs and sunflower seeds to sit in the shade and enjoy the music. Children will be busy running from the petting zoo to the barrel train to the kids’ activity tent to the horse-drawn wagon rides. And when their energy begins to wane, they will stop at the candy booth to refuel.

   With 7,000 guests coming through our gates, we will expect a significant cash injection into our coffers. While this has a considerable impact on our cash position, Pioneer Days actually generates less than 10% of our total operating revenue. Since MHV is a charity, every dollar is important, and we value every admission ticket, souvenir, meal and ride purchased here.

   Our upcoming Pioneer Days festival will again give us the opportunity to share stories and information from our past, attract thousands of tourists and other guests to our community, and provide local residents with a celebratory summer festival.

Calendar of Events

- July 29–August 1: Pioneer Days - 9:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

   This year’s first session of Pioneer Day Camp at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) was a great success! The camp ran July 11-15 for 5- to 8-year-olds. Each day, all participants were able to dress up in costumes that we have here at the museum: dresses, overalls, aprons, bonnets and hats. They loved it!

   The first day, the kids got a tour of the Village. They learned all about “Pioneer Life” as we journeyed from the Semlin to the housebarn, with stops at the schoolhouse, windmill, and Old Colony church.

   “Life in the Village” day involved the kids going to work in the blacksmith shop, and learning about making flour at the windmill. They also got to visit the private school, where they practiced math and writing on slate boards. Each child was able to help make a cup-and-ball game, which is a simple handmade game that was common for pioneer children.

   “Life at Home” day consisted of learning to bake Schnetje biscuits, playing a washboard laundry relay game, helping out with farm chores, and then enjoying our freshly baked Schnetje with strawberry-rhubarb jam in the summer kitchen!

   On “Transportation” day, the children experienced a variety of different transportation modes. Some were old-fashioned, such as the horse-drawn wagon and old fire engine, and some were more modern rides, such as the barrel-train ride! The kids were thrilled to be able to sit on all the old tractors and trucks!

   One of my favorite activities of the week was the creation  of quilt journals. Quilting patterns can represent different meanings or tell a story, and we thought this would be a great way for the kids to reflect on their week and have something to show their parents at the end. Each child was given a large piece of cardstock, divided into sections. Before the end of each day, the kids got time to journal a highlight of their day or something they learned. Some wrote a short line with a drawn picture, while others wrote full paragraphs of all their fun. We used scraps of patterned paper to make quilt-like patches as a flap over their journal sections. We had been taking pictures during the various activities throughout the week, and I got a bunch of those developed so they could be added to the quilt journals to help the kids tell their stories and share their experience.

   I was excited for this activity – but I wasn’t sure if the kids would be as thrilled about it. They LOVED it! It was so neat to see them get excited about writing and piecing together their quilt stories. And by the end of the week, all the patches were complete and they looked amazing!

   On the final day, the kids were able to showcase a craft and share a highlight of their week with the parents. We ended off the day with rides for everyone on the horse-drawn wagon and the barrel train. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful week! And now we look forward to our next Pioneer Day Camp session, to be held the week of August 8-12! This camp is for children ages 9-12. Spaces are still available, so call me at 204-326-9661 to register your child or grandchild.

Calendar of Events

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 9:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Museum Governance

   It is not uncommon to be asked, “Who owns Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV)?” This is a reasonable question, in light of the size and complexity of our museum and the fact that museums are often owned by municipal governments. However, MHV is incorporated and is owned by its members.

   Membership is available to anyone who is interested in the mission and vision of MHV. Our stated mission is “to preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.” Our stated vision is that “MHV will be the premier interpretive centre for the Russian Mennonite story.” Interested individuals and families may purchase either annual or life-time membership.

   MHV communicates with its members several times a year through its mailed newsletter, Village Voice, and provides an annual overview at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) each spring. Our AGM is also the time when members are asked to make some decisions regarding the governance of the museum. Such decisions include the election of a board of directors, the acceptance of bylaws, and the approval of a new budget. Any proposed changes to MHV’s stated mission or vision would also be presented to the members for approval at an AGM.

   With these fundamental pieces in place, the board is then charged with the responsibility of governing our museum. At MHV, the board functions as a governance board as opposed to a management board. This means the board is not involved in the day-to-day management of the operation but rather oversees the fundamentals of mission, vision and values. In other words, our board addresses the purpose of our museum and the way it goes about pursuing that purpose.

   The board of directors is also responsible to hire a senior manager (referred to as the Executive Director), to monitor and evaluate the work of that manager, to develop and approve strategic priorities, and to approve an operating budget. The implementation of the strategic plan within the context of the approved budget then becomes the responsibility of the senior manager.

   MHV’s Nominating Committee looks for a variety of qualities and skills when recruiting new board members. First and foremost, directors on our board need to be passionate about the work of this museum. While it is desirable to have strong representation from our local community, it is also valuable to have some members from the broader Mennonite constituency. While curatorial staff at our museum are typically well-educated historians, it is important to also have a few more historians on the board. Since we are not large enough to have a Chief Financial Officer, it is essential to have a skilled accountant or two on our board. In many respects, MHV operates as a business, so seasoned business people bring value to the work of the board. It is also important that there be individuals who are willing and able to accept board leadership roles (President, Vice-President, Secretary), as well as chair committees.

   MHV’s board of directors meets for quarterly reporting meetings and for two additional meetings specifically scheduled to process things like the strategic plan and the budget. These are evening meetings, which typically start with supper and wind up by 9:00 p.m.

   While our Nominating Committee works hard to find people who have all these skills plus the time and willingness to do the work, they are always open to suggestions from outside the committee. Contact Barry Dyck at [email protected] to pass along the name of a potential candidate. It takes a “community” to own and operate a museum.

Calendar of Events

- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 10:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Faith and History

   We are grateful for the many generous financial donations we have been receiving recently. This week one of those gifts was accompanied by a card in which the donor expressed gratitude for the work we do at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and specifically reminded us not to forget the faith of our forebears.

   I appreciated that reminder because it is the faith element in the Anabaptist story that makes our work most compelling and important to me. I do enjoy the historical and ethnic elements of our work as well. The ethnic food we serve in the Livery Barn Restaurant is always a treat. I enjoy the old houses, barns, schools and churches, as well as the old tools and farm implements. So many of these things remind me of my youth, and despite all the hardships we experienced, these memories are by-and-large positive ones. But were it not for the profound and courageous faith stories that accompany the tangible things and are in fact the foundation for our history, I would find our work much less significant.

   To remind ourselves of the faith movement that initiated “Mennonite” faith, we should review some of the key elements adopted by the original Anabaptist reformers who eventually formed the Amish, Hutterite, and Mennonite sub-groups.

   As the name “Anabaptist” would suggest, the matter of baptism is a key defining element of that faith movement. The Anabaptist reformers of the 16th century believed that a Christian should make a personal request for baptism based on one’s faith in, and commitment to following, the teachings of Jesus. The practice of that day was infant baptism, enforced by both church and government. So this created some significant conflict, even persecution, for these radical reformers.

   The separation of church and state became another key tenet of this early faith movement. In a time when church and state enjoyed joint authority in society, they held to the belief that governments should not have authority over matters of faith and conscience.

   The early Anabaptists were also pacifists. Based on the life and teachings of Jesus, it was their belief that Christians should deal with conflict in non-violent ways, as retaliation and revenge did not align with His exemplary life.

   The reformers promoted what is often referred to as “the priesthood of all believers.” This tenet of Anabaptist faith states that all believers have equal access to God. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is no longer another intermediary required in one’s relationship and communication with God. Therefore, these radical reformers organized themselves into congregations where members were involved in the teaching and leadership of the church. Leadership hierarchies had no place in these groups.

   These early elements of Anabaptist faith still exist in varying degrees in our current Mennonite faith groups. Many of our forebears paid a very high price in defending these beliefs. It is important to remind ourselves of their courage and tenacity again and again, so that we will continue to be inspired to teach that faith and courage to future generations.

Calendar of Events

- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 10:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

VN 2016 06 30 Agnes Fast and siblings

Agnes (Fast) Anderson, in carriage to the left, and siblings, unknown date. Photo courtesy of Preservings magazine.

   As you might have heard, we opened our new exhibit, Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women, on Monday, June 13th in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. This exhibit provides nuance to the stories we tell in the Village. We're going "beyond" the way we usually talk about Mennonite women in history by focusing on the women who, by choice or by circumstance, went "beyond tradition." These women influenced immigration and settlement, became the heads of their families in times of need, had careers when that wasn't something most Mennonite women did, and sought a larger role in the church when women weren't allowed in leadership positions. We also wanted to include the stories of Mennonite women who never married.

   When Curator Andrea Dyck and I were planning this exhibit, we knew that we would not be able to talk about everyone we wanted to - either we weren't able to find suitable photos (or, if we could find them, they weren’t a high enough resolution to include on our panels), we didn't have any artifacts belonging to these women, or we simply didn't have enough information about them. Once we opened the exhibit, we were delighted and honoured that it has prompted people to tell us about extraordinary women in their own families whom we might have included in our exhibit, if only we had known about them.

   We don't want these stories to stop with us. We want other people to hear them as well. To make this possible, we are developing an exhibit that we hope you, our visitors, will help us create! It's very easy: when you visit Beyond Tradition, we invite you to write a woman's story on a card and pin it to the exhibit board in the gallery. It's as simple as that. The woman you write about doesn't even have to be Mennonite! Our objective is to collect and share stories of women who have lived remarkable lives, so if you have a newspaper clipping you want to include, or a photograph you want to share, please do feel free to post them. (Just don't give us an original, as we can't guarantee you'll get it back.)

   As an example of a story that we were unable to include in our interpretive panels but which will be included in this portion of the exhibit, let me close by telling you the story of Agnes Fast Anderson (1883-1977).

   Agnes Fast Anderson grew up in Steinbach. She was taking her nurse's training in Minneapolis when she came home for a visit, and stayed to care for the victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Because there was neither doctor nor hospital at the time, Agnes cared for her patients in the school, which had been converted into a makeshift hospital. One by one her helpers fell sick, though only one of her patients succumbed to the flu. Agnes herself did not fall ill until the worst of the epidemic was over. Die Steinbach Post, when reporting on the epidemic on December 4, 1918, wrote of Agnes and her work at the hospital: “There are only three patients left in the hospital and Agnes Fast is tending to them and they are recovering rapidly under her care, as all the rest have been doing as Miss Fast proves to be an able nurse and has done a great and noble deed to the village of Steinbach.”

   Do you know of any extraordinary women we should be including in our exhibit? Drop by the Gerhard Ens Gallery or find us on Facebook to let us know!

Calendar of Events

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities (free admission)- 10:00 to 6:00

- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 10:00-6:00 daily

Village News

Waffles & Vanilla Sauce

   Our Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) Auxiliary has made MHV waffles and vanilla sauce popular here at the museum. This rare treat is typically served only on our festival days, such as Canada Day, Pioneer Days, and Fall on the Farm. So there are relatively few opportunities to enjoy them.

   When you visit the kitchen in the house attached to the Chortitz Housebarn at MHV, you will see a waffle iron permanently mounted in the stove top. This leads one to believe that waffles were likely a staple menu item at the turn of the previous century.

   Their appeal has obviously continued. When my mother made waffles, they were the main course for our meal. We would eat them with a variety of toppings, such as syrup or fruit preserves. Bacon or sausage were normally served on the side, and then we would enjoy the last waffle with ice-cream for dessert. I suspect the ice-cream was a convenient substitute for the traditional vanilla sauce.

   The waffle iron in our Chortitz house makes the waffle in a configuration of five hearts joined in the centre. The waffles we make at MHV during our festivals are the same shape but somewhat larger. They are baked over a fire, as was done in earlier times when homes didn’t necessarily have electricity to energize an electric appliance.

   It seems our MHV waffles and vanilla sauce have also become quite popular at our local street festival, Summer in the City. Each year we pack up our waffle ovens, a fridge, a freezer, and many other supplies and utensils to bake waffles on the street for three days. Dozens of volunteers join in to bake the waffles and serve our customers. Our waffle booth was exceptionally busy for a good part of last weekend. As everybody got a freshly baked waffle, people sometimes waited up to 30 minutes when the lines were long. Some people treated themselves to a waffle every day of the festival. One individual arrived early on Friday morning during an unforeseen delay and was still willing to wait 2½ hours for his waffle.

   To make our waffles more interesting, we offered a variety of toppings: strawberries, blueberries, ice-cream, and of course the traditional vanilla sauce. When the festival ended on Sunday, we had sold 1,037 waffles, some with creative combinations of these toppings.

   It might seem strange for a museum to be operating a concession stand at a street festival, as our primary purpose is to collect and preserve artifacts, and interpret the stories that come with those artifacts. However, the tourism trade, in which we have one foot firmly planted, would call our endeavour “experiential tourism.” People tend to find their tourism experiences more engaging through hands-on participation in an activity, as opposed to simply reading or viewing information.

   This is what our Livery Barn Restaurant seeks to do daily between May 1 and September 30 by serving ethnic cuisine. This is why we have school children try their hand at washing clothes on a washboard or baking a batch of Schnetje in our hands-on Education Program.

   Additionally, our waffle booth has become a great opportunity for us to contribute to Steinbach’s street festival and gain visibility in the community, while also generating some income for MHV.

   If you missed your opportunity for a waffle at Summer in the City, be sure to visit MHV on one of our upcoming festival days:  Canada Day, Pioneer Days, or Fall on the Farm. Don’t wait until next year’s street festival!

Calendar of Events

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities (free admission)- 10:00 to 6:00

- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 10:00-6:00 daily

Village News

Midwives Among Non-Traditional Mennonite WomenKlippenstein Family for VN 003

    At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) we hope that many visitors will take a look at the latest exhibit in its Gerhard Ens Gallery, also known as the Temporary Gallery. It shines a spotlight on the life and experiences of a group referred to as “non-traditional” Mennonite women. It refers, indirectly of course, to the fact that, in our past, certain traditions “controlled” the kind of work and life women in Mennonite communities could look forward to.

   According to tradition, most women in a Mennonite community would get married and have children, if all went well, and continue mothering those children as long as necessary. Those who did not get married might possibly find themselves working as housekeepers or in manual labour of other kinds, including simply giving assistance to their parents. By 1947, when I looked around at my high-school graduating class at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna, I sensed that women did have several not-unattractive options, not just one. Teaching and nursing were coming into their own as positions that could quite naturally be filled by women as well as men.  Marriage was of course still an option, and not a few women managed to do their mothering and vocational work simultaneously, at least for a good portion of their lives.

   There were, however, other “non-traditional” vocations and careers that still stand out as “exceptions to the rule.” Among these exceptions were the midwives of various communities, quite anonymous among historical accounts until quite recently, coming to light through loose documents that have survived.

   When my colleague, Conrad Stoesz, originally from my home area in the former West Reserve, was casting about for topics to write on for his graduate-school courses, he came upon the subject of midwives and took it on, because (in his words) “ there was nothing written on it anywhere.” He says he took on the challenge of plugging that gap, as it were, after he discovered this group of indispensable community workers and concluded that this silence needed to be ended.

   Here are some statements (paraphrased in spots) from Conrad’s conclusions in one of the papers he then published on the topic: “The midwives who served the Manitoba Mennonites in the late 1800s and early 1900s were essential to the success of their communities. The large families common in these communities insured a high demand for their services. The Mennonite community used the midwife as a means of sustaining self-dependence to keep intact the cultural and religious boundaries, even for a time keeping “foreign” doctors at bay.” (From “Mennonites and the Control of Fertility,” to be published in Journal of Mennonite Studies later this year.)

   My own field of studies had concentrated on other topics until I took note of something that our family story had never mentioned before. I learned that my great-grandmother Sarah Klippenstein had been a midwife for an unknown number of years in my home community in the West Reserve, and we began to locate artifacts to illustrate her work. They have encouraged me to look for more information. Conrad is standing by to help make that happen!

   The new MHV exhibit seeks to highlight the “forgotten” women, such as these midwives and other community workers, who did

play a very significant role in many homes, particularly those where regular medical assistance was not easily accessible.

Calendar of Events

- June 17-19 – Waffle and Cultural Booths at Summer in the City

- June 19 – Father’s Day Buffet in the Livery Barn Restaurant 11:30 – 2:00

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities – 10:00 to 6:00

- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

Village News

VN 2016 06 09 Foyer panel
   This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Manitoba. Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) wanted to mark this occasion somehow, but we didn’t have enough content for a full exhibit; Mennonites had been disenfranchised for their refusal to fight in the First World War, so neither men nor women were allowed to vote.

   Since the suffrage focus didn’t work, we decided instead to mount an exhibit celebrating the broader history of Mennonite women. Often when we talk about Mennonite women in history, we concentrate on their role in the home, raising and feeding their typically large families. This is a story that our outdoor village already tells well, so when Curator Andrea Dyck and I were planning this exhibit, we wanted to tell a different story.

   What about the women who, for one reason or another, stepped outside of the traditional female roles of wives and mothers? Our exhibit Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women is about women who influenced the decision to immigrate, worked outside the home during a period when this was still unusual, sought larger roles within the church, and became the heads of their families in times of need. By stepping outside of Mennonite tradition, either by choice or by circumstance, these women made space for themselves within their communities and expanded what it meant to be a Mennonite woman.

   We are making it a priority to feature individual women who did extraordinary things. Take Helene Reimer, for example, who received the Order of Canada for her services in the field of nursing. Gertrude Klassen, also known as “Trutje,” maintained a successful chiropractic practice while fostering fifty-three children over thirty years. Ann (Klassen) Wiens was a missionary and advocate among the indigenous peoples (Enlhet, Nivacle, Ayoreo) in the Chaco region of Paraguay; in one encounter, she traded her necklace for a warrior’s spear (which you will see on display).

   MHV is also hosting an exhibit by Paul Reimer’s Advanced Photography students from the Steinbach Regional Secondary School. In this series of photographic essays, the students reflect on the women in their lives and the ways they have stepped beyond tradition. This exhibit has already been installed in MHV’s Auditorium.

   Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women will be open to the public on Tuesday, June 14. The exhibits will formally be launched on Monday, June 13 at 7:30 PM at MHV. This event is open to the public.

Calendar of Events

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event; Leaving MHV at 9:45 AM

- June 12 – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Village News


   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is a registered charity, so fundraising is a major activity for us. While we cover about 60% of our expenses with revenue from our own business entities – the Livery Barn Restaurant, Village Books and Gifts, facility rentals, and admission sales – we need to engage in various forms of fundraising in order to cover about 25% of expenses. The other approximately 15% is normally funded by various government grants.

   Our earliest campaign of the year is typically our search for sponsors. Right now our list of sponsors includes 62 businesses and individuals who value the work of MHV and who have chosen to support a particular element of our program. We try to acknowledge their generosity through signs in the Village, a sponsor page on our website, verbal mentions at our festival events, and in other ways.

   Our Tractor Trek is usually our first official fundraising event, happening on June 11 this year. Vintage tractor owners and drivers will each raise sponsorship for a 50-km ride around the countryside on tractors that are at least 50 years old. This event is always a joint venture between MHV and Eden Foundation.

   June 17-19 we will move our MHV waffle and vanilla-sauce production to Steinbach’s Main Street and expect to sell approximately 1,000 waffles to Summer in the City festival attendees. This is a large undertaking and involves dozens of volunteers to make it successful.

   This year our annual Heritage Classic golf tournament has been moved from early September to August 10. It will again be held at The Links at Quarry Oaks. Golfers are invited to join us for a Texas Scramble tournament and dinner.

   Supper From the Field, featuring locally grown food, will take place September 18. This year we will be moving the meal from the Livery Barn Restaurant to our Auditorium. Further information will be released closer to that date.

   We are also pleased to announce that we are currently working on an innovative and unique fundraising event, which we have never done before and have not seen previously in our community. Whereas some of our MHV events tend to be more appealing to men than women, this new event will likely be most appealing to women. Details will be released as they are developed.

   Last but certainly not least, we are also putting substantial effort into our capital development initiative, Foundations for a Strong Future. This includes informing our constituency of our plans, connecting with people who value the work of MHV, and writing grant applications to governments and foundations. This initiative will allow us to build a new Summer Pavilion to replace our big white tent, restore a number of heritage buildings, replace all the 26-year old furnaces and air conditioners in our Village Centre, pay down our debt, and supplement our endowment fund. We are aiming to raise $3,000,000 to cover all of these areas. MHV will have a strong foundation from which to continue its mission when this initiative is complete.

   Many people will agree that asking for donations isn’t always a comfortable task. We are grateful to all who make the asking easy, even those who must decline but do so kindly and graciously.

Calendar of Events

- June 5 – 32nd annual Lions Charity Car Show; 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event; Leaving MHV at 9:45 AM

- June 12 – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Village News


   On a recent road trip to a cabin in the Whiteshell, my wife and I reviewed our wills. This review was not in response to a terminal-illness diagnosis or a change in marital status or anything that significant. We simply had not looked at the document for about five years and felt it was time to review it.

   A lot of things can change in five years. In our case, three grandchildren were born. Three of our parents joined the fourth in eternal rest. Our involvements with several charitable organizations changed.

   So there are many good reasons to review one’s will from time to time. For young families, the birth of children is perhaps one of the most significant reasons to review a will. Leaving instructions as to how the children will be looked after in the event that both parents should pass on is very important. This includes appointing guardians who will become responsible for the care of the children. If there is no will, it is likely that the courts will appoint guardians.

   As children mature, they can become involved as executors, perhaps jointly with one another or with other mature and experienced friends or family members. These roles can change over time.

   Lawyers will often include a Power of Attorney package with a will. This includes documents appointing someone to look after one’s business affairs when one is no longer able to do so. An accident or severe illness can create a need for this person with little or no notice. This package may also contain documented instruction on how one wishes to be treated in case of incapacitation through a terminal illness, including the appointment of a Proxy to make decisions about one’s end-of-life care.

   For some people, and at a certain stage in life, additional issues become important in estate planning. According to the Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) website, a current and detailed estate plan can provide continued support for favourite charities, while also minimizing taxes. MFC is skilled and available to help people with estate planning matters.

   Wills can be produced in various ways, including writing them by hand or using a printed template. Because each of these methods has some particular requirements, we would encourage consultation with a lawyer so that all aspects of the will are done in a way to minimize challenges.

   Money that is gifted to an organization through one’s estate can be significant to that organization’s operating fund or to its endowment fund. At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we have an endowment fund that generates income for the ongoing operation of the museum. The capital in the fund is not available for general use so will remain a source of income solely through its earnings. Our fund is currently relatively small, and we would like to see it grow to become a stable and reliable source of revenue.

   One of the challenges I face is offering the invitation for people to include MHV in their wills without seeming greedy or disrespectful. Maybe this article can appropriately provide that invitation.

Calendar of Events

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa with Mary Ann Loewen and Eleanor Chornoboy – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- July 1 – Steinbach’s Canada Day festivities – 10:00–6:00

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.