An evening that celebrated the 60-year history of the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach, raised more than $21,000 for the MHV last Friday night.

Interim Executive Director, Robert Goertzen, is pleased with the number of guests that came out that evening.

“We had a full house. We had 100 people who wanted to know more about the museum and wanted to hear that their support is still important, and from what we heard and what we listened to that evening, came through loud and clear.”

Former Premier Edward Schreyer speaking at the 2024 MVH Gala in SteinbachFormer Premier Edward Schreyer instrumental in giving funding to build the museum's windmill, spoke at the 2024 MVH Gala in Steinbach.

Goertzen adds another highlight for him was listening to their featured speakers.

“It was fascinating to listen to someone who actually saw the museum develop in certain ways, like the Right Honourable Edward Schreyer who was an MLA and a Premier of our province, and later on an MP. He was involved in some of the developments, and assisted and even knew the founders (of the MHV), and that was really interesting to hear.”

Kevin Chief speaker at the MHV Gala shared his story at the fundraiser Friday night.Kevin Chief speaker at the MHV Gala shared his story at the fundraiser Friday night.

Goertzen continues, “And then Kevin Chief gave us a challenge, to be willing to share our stories and to listen to each other’s stories. He also talked about the power of forgiveness, moving on, and recognizing that as neighbors and friends, we need to support each other. It was encouraging to be reminded of those things.”

Goertzen says the theme of the 2024 Spring Gala was “It takes a village”.

He noted that this year, MHV staff and board members are making it a goal not only to look back at the history of the museum and the city of Steinbach, but also intentionally looking forward to the great things in store for the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum and the area.

Goertzen adds he hopes the point was made in their choice of speakers for the evening, which included the Former Manitoba Premier Edward Schreyer, who was in office from 1969 to 1977 and was instrumental in supporting early projects undertaken by the MHV’s founders.

Schreyer took time to tell the evening’s guests stories of his recollections of the beginnings of the Museum facilities we see today. He started by noting that reminiscing at his age, and about Steinbach was a “pleasant thing”.

“I came here as a young Member of Parliament for the area just north of here. Extending from more or less the TransCanada down the highway all the way up to Norway House. So, it was a combination of farmland and bush country.”

Schreyer continued, “It was an impressionable time for me. I learned a lot and become enthusiastic about a lot of things. Few things more exciting than in the case of this community of Steinbach, and the people that were the spark plugs, that helped to get things moving and keep things moving back then.”

Edward Schreyer (left) visiting with Rick Duerksen at the MHV Gala in Steinbach.Edward Schreyer (left) visiting with Rick Derksen (Eugene Derksen's son) at the MHV Gala in Steinbach.

Schreyer took a moment to thank Eugene and Bruno, the Derksen brothers, for their moral support and encouragement.

“I was scarcely Premier for more than a few months after I was sworn to office in 1969, and I received a request for a visit from the late JJ Reimer. And so naturally, I agreed to have a meeting with him, and to listen to him state his case as to why Steinbach really needed to build a memorable kind of historical image, and that it needed a bit of help from senior government.”

Schreyer notes in the meeting, the group from Steinbach talked about their plan.

"They had a dream that they would build for the 100th anniversary of the settlement here, memorializing the arrival of the first group from the old country here in 1874 at the mouth of the Rat River. And they had in mind to build a historical building of sorts (Artifacts Building) and the windmill.”

The structural design of the Artifacts Building at the MHV

“And the plan was so specific and detailed that it even included the name of the firm where they were going to get the heavy-duty carpenter to build the windmill itself from. From Holland.”

The thing that really made an impression on Schreyer was the way the group was enthusiastic about the project and were only asking the government for 33% to 50% of the cost of the project, “but no more, and the Dutch windmill was built.”

He says to his recollection the request from Steinbach for funding from government was the first example of applying the concept of today’s “policy for supporting community efforts to retain and maintain and preserve cultural heritage.”

2001 design plans for the new MHV windmill after the original one was burntIn July 2001 design plans for the new MHV Windmill were drawn up, after the original one burnt down in October 2000.

“The windmill was built. It was built well. It lasted. It burned in a tragic incident. It was rebuilt. It stands as a symbol to JJ Reimer, and all those who worked with him on the committee. They deserve recognition in historical perpetuity. And I'm proud to be part of that.”

Looking around the room, Schreyer congratulated the guests on the many successes of the MHV from its beginnings up to 2024. “You deserve credit, and I'm here to extend credit to you, along with all your other fellow Canadians.”

At the end of the evening, Interim Executive Director reminded the guests at the Gala of the mission statement of the MHV.

“To preserve and exhibit for present and future generations the experience, the story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.”

Robert Goertzen added, “And tonight we are grateful for those community leaders who saw the need for this and took the initiative, and we're remembering the stories of an entire community.”

“Whether we're celebrating or listening to stories, MHV wants to be that place, that home for stories, and we believe that it's a great way to connect with each other. So that's why I believe that the Mennonite Heritage Village is an important part of our community.”

Goertzen says, the MHV welcomes 50,000 guests every year.

“Our 400 volunteers listen to their stories, and we share our stories, and we are just grateful for the support that we get.”

“We all play an important part of achieving our goal to tell a particular story of the early Manitoba Mennonite Settlers, who many of us have direct family and church ties to, you enable us to listen to the stories of our friends and neighbors, like our indigenous and Metis neighbors who have even older stories. Then we have our newcomer friends shaping new stories in a new home, Mennonite Heritage Village, for all of us. We're all members of this community.“

Mennonite Heritage Village sod turning ceremonyMennonite Heritage Village Artifacts Building sod turning ceremony. (Photo credit: Mennonite Archives)​​​​​​
MHV Artifacts Building under constructionMennonite Heritage Village Artifacts Building under construction (Photo credit: Mennonite Archives) 
Mennonite Heritage Village Artifacts Building complete and open to publicMennonite Heritage Village Artifacts Building complete and open to the public. (Photo credit: Mennonite Archives)
Mennonite Heritage Village Museum Artifacts Building today, May 29, 2024Mennonite Heritage Village Museum Artifacts Building today (May 29, 2024)


Mennonite Heritage Village “It takes a village” Spring Gala 2024 took place on Friday, May 24, featuring Keynote speaker Kevin Chief who is a Board Member of True North Youth Foundation, Former MLA and Cabinet Minister. And recollections on MHV’s heritage by Edward Schreyer who was the 16th Premier of Manitoba (1969 to 1977) and Governor General of Canada (1979 to 1984). Musical entertainment for the evening was by the Connor Derraugh Trio. A jazz trio from Winnipeg.

The next event at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach is happening on Thursday, May 30. Maawanji'iding Ziigwan - Spring Gathering is a joint venture with the Hanover Teacher's Association and the MHV celebrating their partnerships with the Indigenous community. Maawanji'iding Ziigwan is an evening of culture teacher and story-telling featuring Cory Campbell, an Ojibway Songkeeper and Storyteller and Elder James Nelson erecting a tipi on the MHV grounds. The tipi raising will begin around 4pm, and the evening begins at 6pm.