Village News

141 Years in Canada

   Swiss Mennonites arrived in Canada long before Confederation. As far back as 1785 these Mennonites were making their way from Pennsylvania to present-day Ontario. The Russian Mennonites on the other hand arrived in Southeastern Manitoba in 1874, seven years after confederation. Life in Canada has been good for these people, as it has for many other people groups who immigrated around the same time, but many things have changed over the decades.

   Mennonites arriving from Russia at that time were covered by an agreement with the government of the day which made large tracts of land available to them and guaranteed them freedom to operate their own private schools and exemption from military service.

   During World War I new rules were imposed on all schools with respect to flying a flag, teaching only in the English language, and having teachers certified by the Manitoba Department of Education. Many Mennonites expressed their objection to these impositions by leaving Manitoba for Mexico and Paraguay in an effort to recover lost freedoms.

   During World War II exemption from military service was no longer guaranteed. Young men who were summoned to enlist for military duty had to defend their position as conscientious objectors to a judge. In some cases judges decisions did not favour the arguments of these young men resulting in some brief prison terms. Those who were granted Conscientious Objector status were expected to perform alternate service in areas such as health care, forestry and construction of national parks.

   The willingness of Mennonites to enlist for military service has also changed over time. During World War I very few Mennonite men agreed to this level of public service. During World War II, several decades after schools came under the authority and regulation of the Province, various reports indicate that anywhere for 30% to 50% of young Mennonite men enlisted. This change had a profound effect on many families, churches and communities.

   In the late nineteenth century many villages were established by Russian Mennonite settlers. This had been the pattern in Russia and was being duplicated in Canada. By the beginning of the twentieth century homes were being built on farms outside of the villages to allow farmers more ready access to their farm land. Many villages in southern Manitoba have since disappeared.

   For centuries Mennonites have sought lives of separation from the world which resulted in somewhat cloistered existence. Until the mid-twentieth century many Mennonite churches conducted worship services either entirely or predominantly in German. In the last half of the twentieth century many Mennonite churches have adopted English as their main language. This has made it easier for these churches to reach out to English speaking people of any cultural or faith background.

   Given the fact that many Mennonites still remember their own refugee experiences, or at least remember stories of the experiences of their parents and grandparents, there has been a concern for current day refugees in many Mennonite communities which has manifested itself in the hosting of significant numbers of refugee families.

   As Mennonite churches and communities have opened themselves to other languages and cultures, individuals have pursued involvement in many non-traditional careers and public leadership roles. Whereas a century ago Mennonites would have largely been involved in agricultural careers, today they pursue careers in multiple professions, including high levels of elected public service.

   These dramatic shifts in culture, faith and lifestyles provide us at Mennonite Heritage Village adequate reason to preserve and interpret our history for the benefit of generations to come.

Calendar of Events

July 13-17 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

July 31-August 3 – Pioneer Days (10:00–6:00 daily)

August 10-14 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

Village News

New Donation

Some artifacts weigh very heavily in my hands, despite being made of cotton and leather. Gerda Klassen recently donated several articles of clothing, including a white cotton vest, long blue skirt, and handmade leather slippers belonging to her great-grandparents, David and Katharina Dick. According to the family’s stories, the couple were wearing them the day they were killed by Russian anarchists in 1919.

Like many Mennonites in Russia, David and Katharina Dick were prosperous and owned a great estate called Apanlee in Molotschna Colony. They lived there peacefully with their children and grandchildren. After the Russian revolution of 1917 and subsequent civil war, anarchists led by Nestor Makhno emerged from the chaos and spread ruin across South Russia. On October 30, 1919, they came to Apanlee. All day, groups of bandits came and went, raiding the house and taking everything they could carry.

At about 11:00 p.m. a carriage with five men pulled up before the house. The group burst into the building and lined up father David, mother Katharina, brothers Jacob and Johann, and employee Mr. Schellenberg against a wall. Other family members and servants hid in the bushes outside. The leader of the intruders demanded fifty thousand rubles. David told him that all their money had already been taken. He asked for permission to go to the other employees on the farm, sure that he could borrow that amount from them. The request was refused. David was shot and fell to the floor, gravely wounded, and he pretended to be dead. Mr. Schellenberg jumped out a window. John threw himself on the bed, waiting for the bullet. When David whispered to him, “Save yourself!” John also leaped out the window. Jake was able to escape through a door. Katharina tried to escape too but was shot twice, her head shattered by explosive bullets. David died from his wounds a day later. In the final hours a choir from Aleksanderkrone came to sing comforting songs.

David and Katharina’s son, David D. Dick, was serving in a military hospital, a conscript of the White (Imperial) Army. It was not until he returned home two weeks later that he learned of his parents’ deaths.

Siblings Anna, Lydia, and Johann were all lost in Russia. Marie, Jacob, Katharina, Justina, David D., Else, Luise, and Helene were able to escape and immigrated to Canada with their families in 1924.

We are honoured to preserve these artifacts and their story at Mennonite Heritage Village.

Calendar of Events

  • July 1 – Canada Day - FREE ADMISSION (10:00-6:00)
  • July 13-17 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8
  • July 31-August 3 – Pioneer Days (10:00–6:00 daily)
  • August 10-14 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

Village News

Tractor Trek

Family Pictures 2012 117

   Last week I spent some time on a friend’s farm just a mile from where I grew up in the Burwalde area between Winkler and Morden. It was interesting to see his current line of farm equipment. His newest tractor is only a year old, and apart from the steering wheel and the knobby tires, it bears relatively little resemblance to the tractors we grew up with in that area quite a few years ago. Digital readouts have replaced round gauges with needles in them. The only lever in the cab is about five centimeters long, and that is the lever he uses to shift gears. The other controls are a combination of buttons and “touch-screen” computer monitors. These monitors allow him to control both the operation of the tractor as well as whatever implement he is pulling.

   In stark contrast, 46 people spent a good part of last Saturday driving tractors that are at least 50 years old along a 53-kilometer route in an effort to raise money for Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Eden Foundation. None of these tractors had computer monitors or digital read-outs on them. Most had three or four gauges and five to ten levers, depending on the make and vintage. Furthermore, none of them had air-conditioned cabs. In fact none had any sort of cab, and few had seats designed to encourage good posture for a whole day on the field.

   It would seem that these drivers must just enjoy old tractors, and they do. But they also value the two organizations benefiting from the proceeds of the event.

   I suspect they also enjoyed the fun, food and camaraderie they experienced through that day. After a substantial hot breakfast in the Livery Barn Restaurant and a prayer for safety, the trek headed for Blumenort. Keeping 46 tractors together in a tight group became particularly challenging when the group needed to cross the highway at a traffic light. In Blumenort, we drove through town past the seniors’ home and then pointed the tractors toward Landmark. The lunch stop in Landmark allowed both drivers and guests to vote for their favourite tractor. A barbecue lunch and fine hospitality were provided by the Landmark Kinsmen.

   With a cooler wind in our faces, hinting at the possibility of rain, we headed south to Randolph. There the folks at the Neufeld Garage had prepared coffee and snacks for the drivers and any guests who wanted to drop in to see the tractors. The guests were also invited to cast a ballot for their favourite tractor. From there we headed back to Steinbach in warm sunshine.

   In addition to a fine dinner at MHV, the drivers and guests were given the opportunity to win prizes through a silent auction. The judges also announced their decisions with respect to a number of award categories in which all tractors had been entered. Ben Unger’s beautifully restored 1961 Allis Chalmers D-19 Diesel received the Driver’s Choice award, and Kent Reimer’s 1963 Massey Ferguson Super 90 earned the People’s Choice award.

   The contrasts between the lovely old tractors we spent the day with on Saturday and the high-tech tractors like the one I saw recently at my friend’s farm are significant. Technology has brought about so many changes. It’s interesting to contemplate what might be written about today’s tractors 50 years from now. It would be even more interesting to see what tractors will look like in 50 years.

   At MHV we sometimes talk about the fact that history is always in the making. Eventually everything becomes “history.” Which makes me wonder what stories MHV will be telling in 50 years and what technology will be used to tell those stories. Imagine our smartphones and Apple Watches being on display as artifacts in a museum. A lot of interesting things will no doubt happen on the way to that point.

Calendar of Events

June 19-21 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 21 - Father's Day Lunch Buffet (11:30-2:30)

July 1 – Canada Day - FREE ADMISSION (10:00-6:00)

July 13-17 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8

Village News


   I planted my vegetable garden last week. It would not feed a large family for many months of winter, but it does provide some fresh produce in summer. My flower gardening is restricted to maintaining beds of perennials, most of which I got from my mother’s gardens, and hanging a couple of flower pots at the front door, both of which I purchased at a local greenhouse.

   Not only did my mother provide me with perennials for our yard, she also taught me almost everything I know about gardening. It was her habit to brighten the vegetable garden on our farm with some annual flowers. This was a common practice in gardens planted by Mennonites for many decades. While I don’t follow that practice precisely, one of my main perennial flower beds shares a small plot with our vegetable garden.

   In past generations, gardens were often expected to feed a family through the entire winter, so they needed to be very large--as was our garden on the farm. Cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons and muskmelons all take up a lot of space. My mother planted these in rows, not just a single plant like you would now see in my own garden. So in late summer it was easy to go to the garden, pick and wash a few muskmelons, scoop out the seeds, and fill them with ice cream for a very enjoyable dessert.

   Mom taught me that radishes can be planted very early and that they come up very quickly, given the right conditions. She also taught me that asparagus is one of the very earliest garden vegetables to be harvested. Asparagus tips make a very tasty snack, as does kohlrabi.

   Gardens in Russia were known for their prolific orchards. The orchard on our Manitoba farm included many different kinds of fruit. In addition to numerous varieties of apples, we had pears, apricots, plums, chokecherries, gooseberries and currants. Our favourite crab apple was the Trail variety. My cousins still tell me how much they enjoyed those apples. Most of our plums grew wild in the bush and along shelterbelts. There is no better jam than that made from wild plums.

   We learned that one doesn’t need a good eating apple to make a good pie. Some of our apples were very sour but when baked in a pie became quite delightful.

   Gardens also taught us some life lessons. They helped us understand the value of work. No garden does well without hard work. We also learned some patience. There is nothing one can do to make a garden grow faster. But there will eventually be a reward if one works hard and waits patiently.


Believe it or not, Mennonite Heritage Village has a Facebook account. In fact, just last week our MHV Facebook page achieved the milestone of 1,000 “likes.” On June 2, when we had reached 985 “likes,” we posted that we would give a copy of our recently published book, A Collected History, to the 1,000th person to “like” our page. The very next day, Lecoka Café House in Steinbach became our 1,000th “like” and won the book. Congratulations, Lecoka!

Calendar of Events

June 13 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (leaving MHV at 10:00 am)

June 21 - Father's Day Lunch Buffet (11:30-2:30)

July 1 – Canada Day - FREE ADMISSION

Village News

“Did You Know?”

   The Morning Show hosts on AM 1250 like to play a game they call “The Radio Edition of Did You Know.” With apologies to Michelle, Al and Jayme, I’d like to play a round of “The Village News Edition of Did You Know.”

   Did you know. . . that Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) can issue a charitable-donation receipt for the donation of an artifact? For example, if someone donates a car that has a significant Mennonite story attached to it and has a substantial economic value, it would be seen as an in-kind donation. In such a situation we would invite the donor to have the car appraised by a certified appraiser. MHV would then purchase the car for the appraised value, and the donor would make an equivalent donation to the museum. The cash donation would then be eligible for a charitable-donation receipt. While many artifact donations have significant historical value, rarely is the economic value worthy of a charitable-donation receipt.

   This is also a valid way to make other donations to the museum. If someone wishes to donate hay for our livestock, we will exchange cheques and issues a receipt for the donation.

   Did you know. . . that MHV takes artifacts on loan? Our collection includes a number of artifacts that the owners are not prepared to part with permanently but, for a variety of reasons, chose to leave the item in the care of our curators. We typically write loan agreements spanning three to five years so that we are obliged to maintain contact with the owner to renew the agreements from time to time. Some valuable pieces have been added to our collection in this way.

   Did you know. . . that you can enjoy lunch at the Livery Barn Restaurant (LBR) without necessarily paying admission to the Village? Guests who come only to eat lunch are not expected to pay the usual admission fee. This practice is designed to give local people the opportunity to enjoy the change of scenery that a stroll down the Village Main Street offers en route to a fine lunch at the LBR. If guests then decide to tour the village after lunch, we ask that they pay admission on their way out. We enjoy seeing local people bring their out-of-town guests to enjoy this unique experience.

   Did you know. . . that the former “West Reserve” will celebrate its 140th anniversary this summer on Saturday, July 18? Mennonite settlers first came from the Chortitza and Fürstland areas of Russia to this region west of the Red River in 1875. Within two years, 25 villages were established here. Today the area includes Altona, Plum Coulee, Winkler and quite a number of those original villages.

   Did you know. . . that there are a number of ways to ensure that one’s estate makes a significant donation to support the work of MHV? A very simple option is to include MHV as a beneficiary in one’s will. A common method is to allocate a percent of the proceeds of one’s estate to charity, to as many organizations as one wishes to support. Another method is to include a charity as a “son” or “daughter.” For example, in a situation where one’s family is grown and independent, someone who has three children might specify that the estate is to be divided into four equal portions, one for each child and one for the charity.

   Life insurance is another option. One can purchase a life insurance policy naming MHV as the beneficiary. While it is impossible to predict when this benefit will be available to MHV, one can be assured that it will be a significant amount.

   There are many other things to be learned at MHV. One good way to learn more about our work is to register as an MHV volunteer. Check out the “Involvement” section of our website at for volunteer opportunities.

Calendar of Events

June 7 – Lions Car Show, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

June 13 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek

June 21 - Father's Day Lunch Buffet

July 1 – Canada Day - FREE ADMISSION

Village News

Food For Thought

   Following their successful exhibit Menno Meets Modern in 2014, which juxtaposed historic and contemporary Steinbach and family histories, we have again invited Paul Reimer’s Advanced Photography class from the Steinbach Regional Secondary School to exhibit at Mennonite Heritage Village through our summer season. This is an excellent opportunity for the students to show their work in a public exhibit. For the museum, it’s a chance to support and engage with the local community and fill our exhibit cases with fresh, meaningful art work.

   In keeping with MHV’s 2015 theme, Mennonite Food: Tastes in Transition, the students were tasked to create photo essays, each focusing on a different aspect of Mennonite food. For those students with a Mennonite background, this meant cooking with parents and grandparents and investigating family stories. Other students looked at Mennonite food from another perspective, such as exploring MJ’s Kafé in downtown Steinbach and the Livery Barn Restaurant, located on our museum grounds. Examples showcased include Faspa, Zwieback, and Komst (Cabbage) Borscht.

   Each photo essay includes a self-portrait and bio of the student photographer, charming photos of food and family, recipes, and descriptions of the student’s work and findings.

   Visitors might be surprised to come across Brayden Epp’s photo essay on pinto beans wrapped in tortillas topped with cheese and guacamole. This is simply one of the newest additions to the canon of Mennonite foods! Just as Mennonites picked up and adapted Borscht and Vereniki (cottage-cheese perogies) from their neighbours in South Russia (now Ukraine), so have Latin American menu staples become part and parcel of “Mennonite food” for those Mennonites who immigrated to South and Central America in the 1920s–1950s. This mish-mash of food cultures can even be seen (and tasted) here in Steinbach at grocery establishments such as Pay Me Foods and the restaurant El Vicino Foods.

   Welcome to our SRSS student photographers: Allison Wiebe, Juls Bergmann, Rayeil Chua, Caroline Seale, Megan Kis, Tommy Mueller, Brooklyn Gigolyk, Brayden Epp, Elizabeth Anna Winter, and Cherise Hiebert.

The Sisters of the Holy Rock

   Every year at about this time, the MHV Auxiliary plans a fundraising Faspa event. This year the entertainment at the event was an enjoyable set of music by The Sisters of the Holy Rock. This group is a not-for-profit organization whose stated purpose is to help other charities with fundraising events. They have a repertoire of familiar and likeable music which pleased our audience of about 200 people last Sunday. Following their lively concert, a Faspa of buns, cheese, jam, cake and coffee provided a setting for warm socializing.

   We appreciate the work of both the MHV Auxiliary as well as The Sisters of the Holy Rock in generating support for Mennonite Heritage Village.

Calendar of Events

June 7 – Lions Car Show, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

June 13 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek

June 21 - Father's Day Lunch Buffet

July 1 – Canada Day - FREE ADMISSION

Village News

By Barry Dyck

“Winter” on the Farm

   The Victoria Day long weekend used to be one of my favourite times of the year. What could be better than a three-day weekend at the time of year when spring is turning to summer? The grass is green but still short. The days are long but not too hot. Flowers and trees are blossoming, but the weeds have not yet taken over. I remember such weekends with fondness.

   Sadly, this year’s Victoria Day long weekend did not fall into that category. The grass was green but partially covered with snow. The days were long, but several of them were very cold for May. The blossoms on the trees were in danger of freezing, and gardens were too wet to even walk in. Those were just minor personal frustrations, but they gave rise to more challenging issues for Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).

    Spring on the Farm is traditionally our first festival of the season and has for years taken place on Victoria Day. So for weeks prior, we plan and prepare for that day. Plans are coordinated with the Southeast Implement Collectors, because this event includes their annual tractor show. Arrangements are also made with the petting zoo, the entertainers, and other service providers. About 100 volunteers are recruited. Food and other supplies are purchased. The yard and heritage buildings are groomed and cleaned. Sponsors are signed up, and promotional materials are prepared. All this is done well in advance, in anticipation of hosting up to 2000 guests when that day finally arrives.

   So when Spring on the Farm turned into Winter on the Farm this Victoria Day, we made the difficult-but-necessary decision to cancel the show. With snow on the ground and a strong north wind, we determined that the few guests who might attend despite the cold weather would not enjoy these conditions. We also determined that the volunteers who would be coming to serve our guests would also not enjoy their roles in these conditions.

   As it turned out, the weekend’s foul weather created other challenges as well. Several roofs were already found to be leaking during Thursday’s rainfall. Given the storm warnings and forecasts for 80 mm of rain on the weekend, those leaky roofs urgently needed to be fixed. The crawlspace under the Village Centre is well serviced by sump pumps, but the drainage around the building is so poor that water coming off the roofs readily makes its way into the crawlspace, creating puddles and a lot of humidity. Wind warnings always create anxiety with respect to the security of our tent. The 40 x 100 foot canvas is always eager to cooperate with the wind. When the soil around the tent gets saturated with water, the challenge of holding the tent in place becomes increasingly difficult.

   I know that the One who creates and controls the weather cares about us as individuals and, I believe, cares about organizations like Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). So at a time like this, I am peaceful about the fact that I can’t control the weather, even when it seems unsuitable for the day. What challenged me were the decisions that needed to be made to minimize the negative impacts of the weather. How would I get roofers to come and repair leaks on a Saturday? What short-term measures could be taken, again on a Saturday, to improve the drainage around the Village Centre so the crawlspace wouldn’t flood? (And how will we find the resources down the road to do that major drainage repair?) If the forecast of 80 km/hour winds, mixed with rain and snow, would actually materialize, how would we keep the tent from coming apart? How many times during the night would I need to check the tent to ensure its security? And finally, how would we decide whether or not to cancel Spring on the Farm? These were the questions that dampened the pleasure of this long weekend.

   As it turned out, Racka Roofing came to fix our roof on Saturday (thank you!); the crawlspace got wet but didn’t flood seriously; the tent threatened to come apart a couple of times, but nobody had to sleep onsite to monitor it; and the decision to cancel Spring on the Farm actually came quite easily and was broadly supported by staff, board members, volunteers and the public. Another lesson in faith, perseverance and patience.

Calendar of Events

May 24 – MHV Faspa with The Sisters of the Holy Rock; 2:30 PM

June 7 – Lions Car Show

June 13 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek

The Familiar and The New

The Familiar and the New

   I hope no one will be surprised to learn that May 1 was opening day for the summer season at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This happens every year on the same day. The Village is now open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

   This year our guests can expect to experience many familiar things and also numerous new things. Certainly the Village will be familiar to our repeat visitors with its heritage buildings, monuments, open spaces, trees, flowers and water features. The barnyard, complete with a wide variety of farm animals, will also feel, sound and smell as it has in the past. Once again friendly staff and volunteers will be present to enhance the experience.

   The cuisine in the Livery Barn Restaurant, with its aroma, flavour and abundance, will not only remind guests of previous experiences in the restaurant but hopefully also of many meals they have enjoyed in their parents’ or grandparents’ homes. Along with our traditional vereniki, farmer sausage, borscht, kielkje, and plautz, we are again offering the Saturday brunch and the Sunday lunch buffets. Our bakery will again be producing much fine fare, including our famous sticky cinnamon buns.

   In addition to the ethnic food, the restaurant will be offering daily lunch specials. The Thursday special will again be homemade soup and bread - all you can eat. There are typically three types of soup and three types of bread to choose from. Friday’s special is a fish entrée, usually a pickerel fillet, with lemon pie for dessert. People who are only coming to the restaurant for lunch are not required to pay admission. Those who stay to tour all or part of the Village are expected to also pay normal admission.

    But not everything remains the same. One of the big changes is in the General Store. Roxanna and Nita have substantially reorganized the inside of the building. The artifacts on display in the store and the merchandise made and sold by local artisans have been tastefully re-arranged to give the place a new but traditional feel. Additionally, the number of artisans merchandising their products in the store has grown to 14. As a result there are a lot of newly offered items for sale. For many of our guests, a visit to our General Store is a significant part of the MHV experience.

   While a significant number of our visitors return year after year, and perhaps even more frequently, we also have the pleasure of meeting many new visitors. Just last Sunday I met a mother and her two children who had come out from Winnipeg for their first visit. The children were particularly interested in the animals. When they told me how much they had enjoyed the experience I sensed they would likely become return visitors. I also met a local family on their first visit to MHV. It’s hard to describe their astonishment at the richness of their experiences in the Village. They will definitely become return visitors because they purchased a Family Membership which includes a season pass for the year.

   We are pleased to offer the familiar and the new. And we are always pleased to host guests who appreciate either one, or both.

Calendar of Events:

May 10 – Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet in the LBR

May 18 – Spring on the Farm and Tractor Show

May 24 – MHV Faspa with The Sisters of the Holy Rock

June 7 – Lions Car Show

June 13 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek

Setting up the Village

Setting up the Village

   Readying our historical village for the summer season is a great undertaking. Curtains, bedding, and tablecloths are laundered and ironed; straw mattresses are fluffed; floors are swept and windows are washed. With help from Erna Friesen, who has volunteered to wash and iron the village linens this year, we arrange everything from the elaborate Himmelbad (heaven’s bed) in the Chortitz housebarn’s Groote Stow (parlour room) to the humble teacher’s schlopbenkj (sleeping bench) in the private schoolhouse.

   Rather than hiding away their bedding in a linen closet, the Mennonites put them on display. The Himmelbad, so named for its cloudlike appearance, is piled high with layers of wool or feather mattresses and sheets, with pillows on top. The Groote Stow was a showroom for silent signs of status: the dowry chest, the clock, the china cabinet, and the guest bed stacked high with richly embroidered bedding. The very best needlework would be on the top layer – a way for Mennonite women of the house to show their artistic skill. The Groote Stow also doubled as a guestroom, and the Himmelbad was used to host overnight visitors.

   Our Chortitz housebarn’s Groote Stow would not be complete without a Kroeger Clock. Each winter we bring it indoors to protect it from the harsh winter temperatures. The Kroeger Clock represents a tradition of Mennonite-made clocks and a culture of time consciousness.

   The Mennonites loved to plant lush flower and vegetable gardens and kept beautiful fruit orchards. Mennonite women in particular expressed themselves through the decorating of their homes and yards with flowers. This affection for flowers can be seen in the names given to Mennonite villages in Manitoba, such as Rosenort, meaning “Place of Roses”.

   Some flowers were planted near the house in window boxes. Mennonites particularly enjoyed geraniums (Ommeraunje). Each spring here at MHV, pots of geraniums which have been kept indoors through the winter are set in the windows all around the Village. Mennonite women also planted such flowers as the Hollyhock (Stockroos), Lilly (Lelje), Marigold (Stintjnoagle), Rose (Roos), and Pansy (Schwaulum-Uag). Thanks to the hard work and support of the Steinbach and Area Garden Club, this Mennonite gardening tradition is kept alive each year at the Mennonite Heritage Village.

Opening for the Season

   Both the Village and the Livery Barn Restaurant (LBR) will open for business on Friday, May 1. Remember that guests who just come for lunch at the LBR are not required to pay admission.

Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting

   Approximately 40 members attended the Annual General Meeting of Mennonite Heritage Village at the museum on April 7. Willie Peters, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, filling in for a convalescing John Klippenstein, led the assembled members through approximately 75 minutes of reporting, business and celebration.

   The report from the Board of Directors provided information on its work in the past year. The approval and maintenance of board policies was a major part of the work. The board also processed an invitation to membership in the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, and participated in a Chortitza Oak Tree planting ceremony at the offices of Mennonite Central Committee in Winnipeg in celebration of both organizations’ 50th anniversaries.

   The Executive Director reported on a number of operational highlights from 2014. The publication of A Collected History; Mennonite Heritage Village was clearly one of the accomplishments that has been celebrated. This volume will serve as a souvenir for many of our guests allowing them to own an “exhibit” that will remind them of MHV and the stories we tell.

   Last year we again addressed a number of facilities issues. The Lichtenau Church and the Steamer Shelter were painted and a number of buildings received new eaves troughs. The Village Centre Doors were equipped with electric door openers for improved handicapped access and an electronic billboard was installed near the highway.

   While our Auditor always provides a very encouraging report, this year the tone of his comments was particularly buoyant. While we’ve operated with a balanced budget for a number of years now, this year our statement actually reported a significant surplus. This was due to a large bequest received during 2014 and a very successful drive to pay off some of our debt in December. Given that bequests are normally one-time contributions and that the December drive was entirely designated for debt repayment and not for current operations, we will still need to be as frugal as ever in our 2015 operations. The members accepted a balanced budget for the current year.

   A slate of four directors was elected to the board. Allan Kroeker, Carol Kroeker and Sid Reimer were reelected and Roland Sawatzky was elected to his first term. Each board member is eligible to server three terms, each being three years in length.

   Anne Friesen was recognized for her ten years of service on the Board of Directors. Anne was first appointed as a representative of City Council and then was elected by the members. Her interest in the work of MHV was inspired by the passion of her late husband, H. K. Friesen. Anne has served the community through her involvement on the MHV Board and its committees with diligence and integrity.

   Immediately following the conclusion of the AGM the Board met to organize its Executive Committee. John Klippenstein was elected as Chair, Willie Peters as Vice Chair and Carol Kroeker as Secretary.

   As is the case with many events at MHV, there was opportunity to socialize and share stories around cookies and coffee after the conclusion of the meeting.

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.