Village News

Chicken Feathers

   When I was a young girl, our family would travel bi-yearly to my mother’s homestead, located south of a small sleepy town in southern Saskatchewan. My grandparents had emigrated from the Ukraine when they were first married in 1905. They purchased land and built their homestead. Life was not easy on the prairies but they persevered, and seed sprouted where once there were rocks. I admired their work ethic, “intestinal fortitude” and deep faith.

   My parents would pack up our station wagon with all kinds of goodies as we prepared for our mid-summer road trip. My four siblings and I would heartily barter for a window seat and then settle in for the nine-hour trip. As we traveled, we would talk endlessly about all the things that we were going to do when we got to the farm - we had all kinds of plans. The journey to the farm seemed to take forever, but Baba always welcomed us with a huge hug, a warm cup of fresh farm milk and homemade cookies. We always looked forward to sleeping in her feather bed. That was an enormous treat. Gido, a man of few words, gave us a big smile and a hearty handshake. In the morning we often woke up before the roosters’ crow. Baba usually made a big breakfast, including eggs, ham and the best homemade bread and jam. Good times.

   On one particular visit, we awoke early in the morning to find Baba’s tiny kitchen full of aunts, uncles and cousins. We wondered what was going on. Aunt Mary said, “It is chicken butchering day on the farm. So you city kids are in for a treat.” I gasped, “I can’t do that.” This was a new experience for us. We had no idea what to expect, but we soon found out. We all gathered by the barn to receive our chore duty for the day. I was assigned plucking feathers off the processed chicken. After I calmed down, Aunt Lucy kindly guided me through the feather-plucking process, and eventually we got the job done. I also had many opportunities to milk the cows, feed the pigs, learn how to make butter and operate the cream separator. I was crowned an official farm girl by the end of our visit. 

   The Outdoor Village at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) not only reminds me of my grandparents’ farm but also retells the incredible story of the perseverance and “intestinal fortitude” of the Russian Mennonites who immigrated to Canada. They made their way through difficult circumstances, and they used their ingenuity to create beauty out of ashes. They were very innovative and excelled to become top producers in their “fields of expertise.” 

   I find it very hard to choose just one building on the museum grounds as my favourite. Each building has its own rich history and is a vital part of the whole story. Each building communicates that “it takes a village to raise a child.” The MHV staff and volunteers work tirelessly to provide visitors with their best “pioneer” experience.

   This is my second season as manager of MHV’s Gift Shop, Reception, and General Store. I have had opportunities to chat with visitors from all over the world. Guests have stated time and again that the Mennonite Heritage Village museum is one of the best they have visited this year. It is clean, informative and family friendly. Our Reception staff are knowledgeable and friendly and endeavour to introduce our guests to a top-quality museum experience.

   It is an honour and privilege for me to serve alongside a talented group of staff and volunteers at MHV.

Calendar of Events

September 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Fall on the Farm festival

September 17: 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM – Open Farm Day

Village News

Pioneer Days Reflections

   It goes without saying that Pioneer Days is a signature festival for both Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and the surrounding community. We enjoy serving guests from here in the Southeast and beyond. Our volunteers often tell us interesting stories of their conversations with guests from other provinces and other countries.

   The successes of this year’s festival can be attributed to the near-perfect weather, the support of our sponsors, the involvement of many community members as volunteers, and the hard work of our staff. While we achieved many of our goals, we do well to also consider the less-than-successful aspects of last weekend’s festival.

   Total attendance at the four-day event was 5822. While we always wish for more, this is a reasonable attendance. However, last month on Canada Day we served approximately 5,000 guests in just one day, despite the fact that our offering of things to see was less robust. A significant difference between the two events was that on Canada Day we were able to offer free admission, thanks to our partnership with the City of Steinbach and a federal government grant. So clearly the price of admission can be a deciding factor for some people, either by choice or necessity.

   One of our guests lamented the “cost of attending” Pioneer Days, presumably meaning the combined cost of admission and food. Occasionally we have observed guests bringing in their own food and enjoying their meal at our picnic tables. We assume they have felt the cost of purchasing food from the Livery Barn Restaurant or the Short-Order Booth was more than they could manage.

   This is an ongoing dilemma for MHV. We would like our museum and our services to be available to all, and at the same time we need to ensure that the general operations of MHV are sustainable in the long term. In other words, we need a dependable income stream to pay for all the work that we do here. Our energy bill alone is $5,000 a month. We have 17 heritage structures, most of which need paint, shingles and various other repairs regularly.

   We are confident that this museum provides great value for the price of admission. We are also satisfied that our food prices align well with other local restaurants. And still, we seem to be unaffordable to some.

   MHV is blessed to have a large number of willing volunteers. During the four days of Pioneer Days, 303 people contributed at least one volunteer shift, and many contributed more. Clearly we couldn’t function without those volunteers.

   At the same time, it is concerning that several of our pioneer demonstrations were not able to function last weekend because of a lack of volunteers with the required skills to operate certain equipment and carry out those demonstrations. Steam-powered sawing and threshing, printing, manure brick-making, and other demonstrations are currently in jeopardy due to a lack of skilled volunteers.

   And we’re not alone. The CBC in Edmonton recently reported, “A lack of volunteers has led organizers of the Heritage Day event in Rochfort Bridge to call off the celebration, which was scheduled to take place Aug. 7.” From time to time we hear of small museums needing to close due to a lack of volunteers. These are sobering reports.

   Here at MHV, we are very thankful to have the willing volunteers and general community support that we currently enjoy. At the same time, we need to keep asking ourselves and others how we can remain relevant in our constituency. What aspect of MHV will people value so much that they will remain, or become, engaged in the work of MHV as volunteers, donors or members?

   We extend a big thank you to all who attended, volunteered at, or supported MHV’s Pioneer Days in one way or another.

Calendar of Events

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

September 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Fall on the Farm festival

September 17: 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM – Open Farm Day

Village News

Memories of C.U. (“Telephone”) Klassen

   After my Dad retired from being a lineman at MTS, he became a Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) volunteer. His “schtick” was to make rope at the festival events. Being a life-long inventor of gadgets, he designed and built his own “geschneez” (contraption) for twisting the strands into a rope. I'm sure he didn't Google for instructions. He had already invented Steinbach's first drive-in telephone (on a stump in front of the telephone office), a telephone switchboard, and a flat-tire indicator. But no, we were never rich, except in kids (13).

   Back in the 50's Dad was the manager of Steinbach's home-grown telephone system. He drove his 1950 Fargo all over the southeast, from St. Labre to Niverville, stringing miles of "army wire," often just laying it on the ground. It wasn't pretty but the farmers got what they wanted: a cheap and effective phone connection. We still have his pole-climbing harness with the spurs, which brother Ron (Cornie) puts on at every family gathering. C.U. usually got up and down the pole without incident, but on at least two occasions going down went a little faster than he planned. Anyway by the time he was near retirement his knees were shot, and he had to take early retirement. (Which ended up being good for MHV.)

   Part of his role as Steinbach’s telephone manager was to preside over a bunch of young telephone operators. They had the job of plugging into your incoming call and demanding: "N'er please?". You would say “line 34-2-2,” and then you could hear them ringing "drrrrt,drrrrt, drt,drt.” The operator would stay on the line long enough to know that your friend had "picked up," or longer if the information was interesting. Others on your line would tune in. Sort of a conference call, really.

   Once a year Mom would invite all the operators (except those who were working that night) to the house for a major feast. Most of the girls would hardly get through the first course, having taken three refills of chicken-noodle soup. As a boy in my early teens, I just mostly admired the girls.

   My oldest sister, Leona, was one of the operators. She drew a one-woman night shift one time and asked sister Alfrieda (Fritz) to stay with her. At about midnight, Fritz headed for the bathroom and flicked a light switch next to the door. Okay, I should tell you that in those days Steinbach had a town siren which was supposed to go off at curfew time, when all the kids were to be off the street. Anyway, when Fritz innocently flicked what she assumed to be the bathroom light switch, it turned out to be the town siren. Oops. Dad was sometimes a little “racht too” (taking short cuts) in solving electrical problems.

   That siren woke the whole town, and Constable Ben Sobering jumped out of bed and roared around town trying to find the emergency. The C.U. Klassen family on Mill Street was a little red-faced that night. But not for long. We were proud of our dad (and mom), and two years ago we installed a pocket park on Brandt Street, at the foot of Ellis Avenue, in their honour. Take a rest on the bench on your next walk. C.U. there.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

VN 2017 07 27 Bible

At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we collect and exhibit objects that help us tell the story of Russian-descendant Mennonites. I am very used to accepting family heirlooms into our collection, but I never imagined that MHV would accept a piece of my own family's history during my tenure here.

   For years I had been hearing about the Wieler Family Bible, which was in my grandparents' possession, but somehow I always managed to forget about it when I was at my grandparents' home (no doubt distracted by family and food). Finally, at the Easter gathering before last, my Grandpa Wieler decided it was time to bring out that bible. I thought it would be the size of a modern bible, maybe a hundred years old, so imagine my surprise when my grandfather walked into the kitchen carrying a book that was almost 18" tall, 10" wide, 4" thick, and printed in 1716. He said that he and his surviving siblings were concerned about its future and asked me if a museum would want it.

   The Wieler Family Bible was printed by Johann Detleffsen in Prussia (now Poland). The scriptures are Martin Luther's German translation, with commentary by 17th century German theologian Paul Tossanus. Its black leather cover, embossed with the initials "F.A.W." and the year 1734, is in remarkably good condition. Although stained in some spots with age and use, the rag paper the bible was printed on has ensured that the type and woodcuts are as crisp as the day they were printed.

   The Wieler genealogy has been traced back to Peter Wieler (ca. 1737-1786), but he was born a generation after the bible was printed. Could "F.A.W." be the initials of his father or grandfather? Could this really have been in the family for three hundred years? There are several inscriptions that may, when translated, shed some light on the matter. But they also complicate things, as one of the inscriptions on the title page seems to have been written by Peter Hildebrand (1754-1849), who wrote the first history of the Mennonite immigration to Russia. How did he get a hold of this bible?

   The trail of ownership only picks up when the bible was already old. As far as I can tell, it came to Canada with my great-great-grandparents, Cornelius (1850-1924) and Margaretha (Klassen) Wieler (1846-1942), in 1875. They settled on the West Reserve, around what is now Winkler, in either Gnadenthal or Ebenfeld. They were excommunicated from their Old Colony congregation when they moved on to their own homestead shortly thereafter. They moved back and forth between North Dakota and Haskett, Manitoba, before settling in Walhalla, North Dakota. My great-grandparents, Jacob C. (1885-1967) and Katherina (Suderman) Wieler (1896-1973) moved back to Haskett for good in the mid-1920s.

   The bible stayed in Walhalla until Cornelius, son of Cornelius and Margaretha, passed away in 1961. A friend of his gave the bible to my great-grandfather, Jacob C. Wieler. After his and Katherina's deaths, the bible passed to their son, also Cornelius. After his death, it passed to his brother, my grandfather, Henry.

   My grandfather passed away before he could sort out the bible's future with his surviving siblings. But just last week my great-uncles Frank, Peter, and John Wieler and my great-aunt Jane (Wieler) Braun completed the donation paperwork. The Wieler Family Bible will now make its home at MHV, where its history will be documented and kept for future generations.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

PHOTO: VN 2017-07-27 Bible.jpg

CAPTION: The Wieler Family Bible title page, with an inscription by Peter Hildebrand (1754-1789).

Village News

Volunteerism

   When I started my job at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in 2009 I was introduced to five women who volunteered as our receptionists, each taking on that role one day a week. They would answer the phone, greet guests who came to visit the museum, and help anyone who wanted to make a purchase in the gift shop. This was a valuable and essential service to MHV, and still is today.

   Over time, these five women have chosen to gradually reduce their involvement in this role for a variety of reasons, none of which involves less love for MHV. We are grateful that several new volunteers have stepped up to serve MHV and our community in this capacity. However, we currently do not have enough volunteers to keep the reception desk staffed during all open hours. To fill this need we’ve turned some of the reception work over to paid staff. Our paid staff are talented people and good to have on our team. At the same time, having to replace volunteers with paid staff places a financial burden on our organization.

   As the overall workload at MHV continues to grow and some of our long-serving volunteers in many areas are moving into well-deserved retirement, we wonder why we’re not finding enough new volunteers to fill their roles. Maybe it’s been caused by gradual changes in our western society. During the time that I lived in my parent’s home in my childhood and youth, my mother was a full-time “employee” of our farm, and her job was to manage the home. Apart from two weeks of substitute teaching in our one-room country school when the regular teacher was ill, she never had a job outside of our home after she became a mother. And that’s how it was in many homes at that time.

   The picture can look quite different in today’s households. My wife and I have two adult married offspring. They and their partners all have careers. In many such households, parents are working all week, spending their evenings feeding the children, putting them to bed, and getting lunches ready for the next morning. That leaves laundry, yard work, taking the kids to lessons, cleaning the house and shopping for the weekend. Finding time for community volunteering as well is just not easy in that scenario.

   It seems today’s society also places higher value on leisure activities than in earlier times, and no doubt this is important, given the busy schedule of many families. Once an investment has been made in a cottage, a boat, a pair of skis, or a full set of hockey equipment, it’s important to utilize that investment for the purpose for which it’s intended. If there is any remaining time for volunteering, that time is limited.

   We in Steinbach are blessed to live in a community that has so many good volunteer opportunities. From churches to recreational sports to arts and cultural activities, there is no end of opportunities. In fact, it feels at times that the demand for volunteers is increasing while the supply is dwindling.

   My intent is certainly not to make anyone feel guilty for not volunteering or for not spending more time volunteering, or for leaving a long-held volunteer post. There are still large numbers of active volunteers in this community, and we appreciate each one. My purpose is simply to raise this subject for thought and consideration, and maybe to suggest an alternate solution.

   When I was a child, my parents often used the phrase “We have more time than money,” usually to punctuate the need for hard work. Considering our lifestyles today, many of us would be more likely to say that we have more money than time. How many of us hire someone to clean our house or paint our house or complete a landscaping project on our yard? How many of us spend $10 on the way to work to wash our vehicle because we didn’t have time to do it ourselves on the driveway the night before?

   So here is my suggestion:  For those of us who have more money than time and who don’t have time to volunteer, how about paying for a volunteer? A volunteer who puts in one day per week will work about 400 hours per year. Place whatever value you feel is appropriate on the work of that volunteer and make donations in that amount to the charity of your choice. This will not create more volunteers but will help to pay for some of the staff who must be hired to replace departing volunteers.

   Right now MHV is recruiting volunteers for various responsibilities at Pioneer Days on the August long-weekend. We look forward to finding people who will take one or more shifts during this weekend, when many people will be coming to enjoy our museum and our community. If we miss calling to invite your participation, please call us at 204-326-9661.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

MHV “Home” For Staff

   In my role as Office/Rental Manager here at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), I tend to be more personally involved with the business side of our facility than with the “museum” side of things, except to say that I am always proud of the work that our Curatorial staff does with setting our annual theme and putting together very high-quality exhibits. However, this year’s theme - Storied Places - and current exhibit have connected with me in a much deeper way and are continually reminding me of my own story as it relates to this workplace, my home for 40 hours per week.

   Growing up in a certain area often makes it a very natural place for people to stay and continue their lives. I myself often feel like I have grown up at MHV. My earliest memories date back to the mid 1970’s when I was a young boy and my grandfather, David P. Reimer, was an MHV volunteer.

   Grandpa Reimer was at that time quite involved in many different areas here at MHV. When for the first time I was asked if I would like to ride with Grandpa on an old tractor in the Pioneer Days parade, I have to admit I was hesitant. The parade would take quite a long time, likely pushing the limits of my childhood attention span, and so many people would be watching; it was a pretty tall request for such a young person. But once I was convinced that I would do it and would like it, I did - and it’s actually become quite a special memory.

   The creation of special memories at MHV continued through my early years. My mother was recruited at some point to give tours, and during those tours I spent most of my time with Grandpa Reimer in the Blacksmith Shop, sometimes operating the bellows used to fan the fire or trying to sharpen a tool on the large sharpening stone wheel. Grandpa tried to teach me how to hammer the iron, and later how to make things out of tin and understand the workings of the small model steam engines.

   In MHV’s current collection of artifacts, we have a model of a Chortitz Housebarn that my grandfather built. I have distinct memories of working with him in his garage at home to cut some of the blocks and shingles for that model, and later even trying to nail a few of the shingles onto the roof. I had to be so careful not to split the shingle.

   Both of my grandparents have long since passed, but my parents have remained an important part of the volunteer workforce here at MHV. I have in my personal collection of photographs two pictures: one is of Grandpa Reimer operating the forge in the MHV Blacksmith Shop; the other is of my father in the very same pose in the same Blacksmith Shop.

   I myself don’t operate the forge, and I don’t build things out of wood or metal like my family predecessors, but I am more than happy to be a part of the work at MHV in my own ways. When I go outside and see that someone has lit a fire in the Blacksmith Shop, when I get to watch the Pioneer Days parade with my kids, or when I’m at an MHV festival event and the Steam Club fires up the old steam engine, all the old memories come flooding back. When I interact with MHV’s many rental clients, they often ask if they can look around the village. And when they ask me about some of the things they are seeing, I’m always more than happy to tell them the stories of how I grew up here and how MHV remains very much a part of “home” for me.

Calendar of Events

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

    

Village News

Storied Places smallest

Photo: VN 2017-07-06 - Storied Places.jpg

Caption: Our new exhibit, Storied Places, is in the Gerhard Ens Gallery until Spring 2018.

VN 2017 07 06 Colin M east slope1

Photo: VN 2017-07-06 Colin McGhee working on east slope of roof

Caption: Master Thatcher Colin McGhee working on east slope of roof, June 20, 2017

 

Waldheim House

   Our Waldheim House restoration project is nearing completion! As mentioned in previous articles, the logs, ceiling, roof structure, and interior of the house were restored over the winter by local contractor Walls that Speak. The thatching component of the project was completed this weekend.

   This leaves the Waldheim House, built in 1876, with a roof that will last 50 to 60 years with proper maintenance. The roof is thatched with Phragmites reeds harvested around the Dauphin area. These are naturally water-resistant, and are packed so tightly that they are pest- and rodent-resistant as well. If you didn't get a chance to see thatching in action, visit our Facebook page Mennonite Heritage Village Museum and take a moment to browse through our Waldheim House Restoration Project album for photos.

   We will re-open the house in mid-July, after we have had a chance to clean up the site. Walls that Speak will take care of the exterior, and the Curatorial department will work in conjunction with our Custodial team to clean up inside the house. We need to wipe down furniture and put it back where it belongs, hang curtains, make the beds, and put back all of the props and artifacts that make the house look lived-in. With a few exceptions, the interior will look much as it did before the restoration project. However, the work done over the last year will ensure that the Waldheim House stands in good condition for many more years to come.

   Keep checking our website, www.mhv.ca, and our social media accounts for the latest news on when the Waldheim House re-opens. If you're curious about what exactly the restoration entailed, visit our Facebook photo album, Waldheim House Restoration Project, and the latest edition of MHV's Village Voice (available on our website and at the museum) for more information.

   We would like to acknowledge and thank the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, Steinbach Credit Union, Thomas Sill Foundation, RM of Hanover, and the private donors who made this project possible.

Storied Places

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) opened its new temporary exhibit, Storied Places, on July 1st in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. In this exhibit, we talk about how Mennonites made Manitoba their home after they moved here in the 1870s, and ask our visitors what makes a place "home." At the end of the exhibit, we invite our visitors to tell us about a place in Steinbach that is important to them so we can create a “storied” map of Steinbach. The exhibit is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6:00 p.m. Sundays during July and August.

Calendar of Events

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Canada 150

   On Saturday, July 1, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will host our annual Canada Day festival in collaboration with the City of Steinbach. The unique part of this year’s national celebration is the special emphasis on Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation. At MHV, we will be highlighting three unique projects related to that theme.

   Our guests will have the opportunity to view the Waldheim House roof-thatching project and talk with Colin McGhee, the master thatcher. They will also be the first guests to see our Canada 150 exhibit, Storied Places, in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. It is also timely that Steinbach’s Canada 150 mural, painted by many community individuals several months ago, will be on view during our festivities.

   Our Waldheim House roof-thatching project has been very special for us, partly because it required so much time and work to bring to reality. The dream for this project actually began about ten years ago. More recently, in 2015, our Member of Parliament, Ted Falk, announced that MHV would receive a $100,000 grant under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, for the renovation of the Waldheim House. Additional funds toward this project were provided by the Steinbach Credit Union, the Thomas Sill Foundation and the Rural Municipality of Hanover. Finding craftspeople with the skills to refurbish an old log structure and install a thatched roof took considerable time and effort. Refurbishing work on the structure finally began in the fall of 2016, and the entire project will be completed this summer.

   This project is also significant because such an undertaking is so rare in our part of the world. We hope many guests will visit us on July 1 and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the installation of a thatched roof.

   Canada is a special place for all of us. Some of us view it as a long-standing home. Others may view it as a place of refuge, having recently come from other countries. Our MHV theme for 2017, Storied Places, invites everyone to think about a place that has been significant in their lives - be it a farmyard, lake, school, or almost any other place - and consider what specific impact that place has had on their lives. On July 1, our new Storied Places exhibit will be opening in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to submit their own stories about places that are especially meaningful to them.

   Earlier this year, in preparation for the Canada 150 celebrations, 150 communities across Canada – including the City of Steinbach - were invited to produce a mural relevant to their community. When Steinbach’s citizens were asked to select a symbol for our city to be incorporated into the mural, the majority of those responding requested that the symbol be our MHV windmill. People of all ages volunteered to paint their own unique tile, later combined artistically with all the other tiles to create one large mosaic. This beautiful mural will eventually arrive at its permanent home on the Jake Epp Library building, but it is currently residing at MHV and will be available for our guests to view on Canada Day.

   Our Canada 150 festivities will include a flag-raising ceremony, with speeches by our political leaders and birthday cake. The day will also feature interpreters in many of our museum buildings, horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, entertainment in our new pavilion and lots of good food. At 6:00, activities will wrap up at MHV and resume at the soccer park at 8:00. The evening activities will include music, cupcakes and fireworks.

   There will be no admission charges at the museum or the soccer park. What a great opportunity for our community to get out and celebrate the 150th anniversary of our country’s confederation.

Calendar of Events

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily

August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10

August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

Village News

Campaign Update

   In September 2015, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) rolled out our continuing development initiative called Foundations for a Strong Future. This focused campaign is designed to address several of our museum’s more significant needs, apart from day-to-day operations.

   The projects it will cover fall into three categories. The first is Building Restoration. This involves the rejuvenation of several of our heritage buildings.

   The major item in this category is the Waldheim House, the oldest building in our village and the first building to be brought to this site. With the help of a Canada 150 grant and additional gifts from the Thomas Sill Foundation, the Steinbach Credit Union, the RM of Hanover and numerous individuals, this project is now well underway.

   Our Windmill and the Old Colony Worship House have benefited from repairs and new paint. The Windmill does still need additional significant maintenance.

   This category also includes the replacement of all the 27-year-old furnaces, air conditioners and air make-up units in our Village Centre. This part of the project is essential for the preservation of our artifacts, by maintaining control of our climate in the galleries and artifact storage rooms. We have completed the first stage of this project, with two more to go.

   The second project category is New Construction. We have almost completed our new event centre, which will function as a permanent and enhanced version of the big white tent we used to erect annually. This building will serve MHV’s Education Program and festival events and will also provide the community with a new venue for such events as parties, receptions, family gatherings, and staff picnics. This facility is almost complete and we expect to have the landscaping done by July 1.

   Financial Stability is the third project category. This involves the elimination of our debt and the enhancement of our Endowment Fund. Both of these are essential for efficient operations year to year.

   MHV continues to be blessed by gifts from a generous constituency and significant grants from governments and several supportive private foundations. To date, our cash and pledges exceed $2,100,000 toward a goal of $3,000,000. So we are well on our way to meeting that goal.

   One of the critical aspects of a focused campaign such as this is the risk of losing operating cash flow. Sadly, some of our regular operating donations are being allocated to the campaign instead. While we understand how this works, it doesn’t reduce our significant need for annual operating funds. Taxes, energy bills, insurance premiums and salaries must be paid if we are to appropriately maintain our collection of artifacts and continue our established programs.

   MHV’s vision is to be the premier interpretive centre of the Russian Mennonite story. We are pleased to be able to offer Southeastern Manitoba a tourist attraction visited by people from more than 50 countries every year. And we feel it is our responsibility and privilege to be a community builder, offering our community gathering places and creating festival events where we can celebrate together.

   Foundations for a Strong Future is still underway. We are very grateful for the significant support we have been receiving for our projects. Almost $900,000 is still needed to fulfill our plans, which are critical for the ongoing success of MHV. Will you join us in this ongoing project? Inquiries may be directed to Barry Dyck at 204-326-9661 or [email protected] Donations may be mailed to MHV, 231 PTH 12 North, Steinbach, MB. R5G 1T8 or processed through our website at www.mhv.ca.

Calendar of Events

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

Village News

Tractor Weekend

   For those of us who grew up on farms and drove tractors that were manufactured before about 1970, last weekend had a lot of nostalgia to offer. A Tractor Trek on June 10 and Tractor Show on June 11 kept vintage tractor enthusiasts quite occupied.

   The Tractor Trek is an annual fundraising event sponsored jointly by Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Eden Foundation. This was the eighth consecutive trek where vintage-tractor owners and enthusiasts canvassed friends and acquaintances for pledges and then drove their tractors more than 50 kilometers to earn those pledges. Forty-seven tractors were registered, and their pledges totaled just under $37,000 at the end of the day.

   This year the route took the group east to Aime Boivin’s place to see his network of miniature railroads and then on to the Dawson Trail Park in Richer. Many local residents were ready to serve us lunch at the park and cast a ballot for their favourite tractor. We enjoyed their warm reception. On the way back to MHV we stopped for coffee and Schnetje at Penner Pumpkins in the Giroux area.

   Dinner and an awards ceremony were held in the new MHV Pavilion. Awards were given in three classes: Antique (1950 and older), Classic (1951-1954), and Working Class (1955-1967). Within each of these classes there were four award categories: Judge’s Choice, Smoothest Running, Quietest Running, and Best Opportunity for Improvement.

   Additionally there were awards for the oldest driver – Peter W. Wiebe; oldest tractor – a 1940 Cockshutt 70 owned and driven by Bob Schmor; lowest horsepower – 1953 IHC Farmall Super C owned by Linden Reimer and driven by Chris Chetwynd; longest family-owned – 1954 Case DC4 owned by Werner Rempel and driven by Lorne Derkatch. The organizing committee was pleased and encouraged by the number of tractors involved, as well as the funds raised.

   Some of these vintage tractors were parked at MHV for the night and then placed on display on MHV’s Main Street on Sunday for the Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show. This proved to be a fine photo opportunity for numerous photographers.

   Sunday’s audience enjoyed a parade of the tractors, complete with information about each tractor and its owner. The parade was followed by a demonstration of starting one tractor by turning its pulley with another tractor. Perhaps the most challenging part of this demonstration was getting the two tractors aligned so that the belt transferring the power wouldn’t jump off the pulleys.

   One of the tractor games following this demonstration was the Chain Drop, where a long chain was hooked to the back of a tractor, and the operator had to move the tractor back and forth as quickly as possible, depositing every link of that chain into a two-foot-square box. A second game involved backing a four-wheeled trailer into a designated spot between four pylons. The degree of difficulty in this game can only be truly appreciated by those of us who have ever tried to back a four-wheeled trailer. The last game involved driving a tractor onto beams on a fulcrum and positioning the tractor in a place where it balances. In other words, the beams cannot be touching the ground at either end.

   Each event was timed to see who completed it in the shortest time. Drivers and spectators alike enjoyed these competitions.

   Amid the games, judging, driving and fundraising, there were many stories shared over those two days. These stories remind us of various elements of our heritage and in so doing, help create community among people with common interests. It is our hope that these events will be even bigger and better next year.

Calendar of Events

June 16-18: Cultural Booth and Waffles at Summer in the City

June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery

July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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