Village News

VN 2018 06 14

Food Stories

   We aren’t often invited to enter a food truck, tell stories and prepare one of our favourite old recipes. Normally we purchase food from the proprietor of such a venue. But our community will soon have a unique opportunity to spend time on the other side of the window.

   From June 17 to July 7, Dr. Janis Thiessen and Sarah Story will be conducting research in the north parking lot of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).

   According to the University of Winnipeg’s NewsCentre, “Dr. Janis Thiessen is hitting the road to ask Manitobans in the Steinbach area to share their food histories and family recipes and she’s inviting people to register now to participate. Thiessen, Associate Professor (History) and Associate Director of the Oral History Centre at The University of Winnipeg, is rolling into town in her newly branded and outfitted Manitoba Food History Truck, which will be parked at the Mennonite Heritage Village (231 Highway 12 North, Steinbach) from Sunday, June 17 to Saturday, July 7, 2018.

   “Manitobans will be invited to hop on board the truck to cook a dish that is meaningful to them, while research team members interview them about their lives. Research team members and students will use this innovative approach to conduct oral histories on Manitoba food history, which will be shared with the public via a podcast series, pop-up exhibits and events, a website of digital stories and maps, and a food truck cookbook.

   “The goal of the Manitoba Food History Project is to produce a comprehensive history of food manufacturing, production, retailing, and consumption in the province of Manitoba from 1870 to the present day. The two driving questions behind the research are: ‘How has food been produced, sold, and consumed in Manitoba?’ and ‘How has this changed over time?’”

   The University of Winnipeg reports that this truck will also make stops in Winnipeg and the Parkland region over the next several years.

   “The Manitoba Food History Truck (owned and operated in partnership with Diversity Foods) will travel to these three regions of Manitoba so that the project team –– including food history students and research assistants –– can conduct life-story interviews with Manitobans while they cook local, historical, meaningful recipes aboard the truck. These oral histories will help to inform people’s understanding of the business, labour, ethnic, Indigenous, and local histories within the province of Manitoba.

   “Throughout the project, research team members will be working toward producing a variety of research outcomes that will provide opportunities for students, meaningful contributions to scholarly research in food history, and engaging and accessible representations of Manitoba’s food history. This will include a collection of oral history sources (to be archived at the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg), experiential learning courses in business history & food history at The University of Winnipeg, digital stories and vignettes of Manitoba food history, pop-up exhibits and public events, a podcast series on Manitoba food history, and a Manitoba Food History Truck cookbook.”

   When MHV was approached about the concept of hosting a food truck on our campus, our first questions were “Will they be making the kind of food we make in our Livery Barn Restaurant?” and “Will they be selling food in competition with our restaurant?” They quickly assured us that they will not be producing any food for sale. It’s all research.

   Food is such a significant part of Russian Mennonite culture, as it is for many cultures. MHV is pleased to support Dr. Thiessen’s research initiative, and we invite the community to participate as well. Interested participants should sign up here or visit the project’s website at

Calendar of Events

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

June 17-July 7 – Manitoba Food History Project

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)

Village News

Feeling Sorry or Grateful?

   Every now and then, we at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) feel sorry for ourselves. Actually, we have a lot to be thankful for and few reasons to feel that way. But when certain challenges show up, we tend to compare ourselves with other museums that “have it easier,” a tendency which is not usually productive.

   For example, we’ve just learned that the roof of our Hochfeld House needs urgent attention. The shingles are old and starting to curl, and some have actually peeled off in the recent strong winds. When a roof needs new shingles, we always need to assess whether the structure under the shingles needs some repairs. In this case, we think that might be the situation.

   Numerous other buildings in the Village also need attention of various sorts, either immediately or in the very near future: Our windmill needs to have its entire deck replaced. That job will be undertaken this fall. The Reimer Store and The Printery need new paint. Fortunately, we have a volunteer who has adopted this project and has started scraping this week. (No doubt he would welcome some additional volunteers.) The Livery Barn Restaurant needs some significant repairs and a new coat of paint. Our hip-roof barn in the barnyard needs a new roof, some repairs and a fresh paint job. If someone had the will and the expertise to do it, we would welcome the restoration of the sling system in the barn. This apparatus was used to lift hay into the hayloft before farmers had bale elevators. The Chortitz Housebarn is also in need of repairs and paint.

   All seventeen heritage buildings on our campus are wood structures, and all but one have cedar-shingled roofs. While cedar roofs are supposed to last fifty years, the paint on the buildings below them will likely last only five years. To keep the paint on all seventeen buildings consistently looking fresh and protecting the wood, we should be painting three buildings every year.

   We must similarly be concerned about our old farm machinery. This collection of artifacts includes numerous very large items that are costly to maintain. But without restoration and maintenance, these historically valuable items will be lost. A corn binder, a manure spreader, and various other pieces with wood parts are particularly vulnerable to deterioration and loss.

   As we contemplated this very lengthy and expensive maintenance list recently and considered the fact that many other museums have only one building and a much “smaller” artifact collection to look after, we admittedly felt sorry for ourselves.

   But in the bigger picture, we know that there are many things for us to be grateful for. We are thankful that people have shown enough confidence in us to entrust important and large artifacts into our care. We are grateful to have local people and organizations with the wherewithal to maintain a complex piece of machinery like our windmill. Seeing a volunteer step up to paint the Reimer Store and the Printery is a blessing. We are thankful for the many volunteers, individual and business donors, foundations and governments who have made it possible for us to maintain our valuable artifacts and facilities over the years.

   While comparisons with other museums can sometimes result in discouragement, the reality is that we are blessed to be in a mutually beneficial relationship with our constituency. MHV preserves and interprets history, provides a community meeting place and community events, and attracts tourism, which is beneficial to many other local organizations. In return, MHV receives much-needed volunteers, skilled craftsmanship, financial resources, and meaningful artifacts with their accompanying stories. We are grateful.

Calendar of Events

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)

July 9-13, 10:00AM-4:30PM – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7

Village News

VN 2018 05 31 Kroegermhv

Sharing the Stories of Artefacts and Living Objects

   An exhibit like The Art of Mennonite Clocks, currently on display in our Gerhard Ens Gallery, doesn’t happen without a lot of cooperation. This exhibit has married the strengths of two organizations, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation (KCHF), and two ways of looking at objects: as artefacts and as living objects.

   Approximately half the clocks in the exhibition have come from MHV’s collection of artefacts. The other half have been loaned to MHV by organizations, including The Manitoba Museum and Mennonite Heritage Archives, and by individuals in the community. Most of the clocks from this latter category were loaned through KCHF.

   Artefacts are objects that are preserved, stored, and exhibited as a part of a museum’s official collection. If you’ll excuse what becomes a pun in this particular case, they are objects upon which time has essentially stopped. The state of an artefact when it enters a museum’s collection is usually the state in which it’s kept. Of course, preventative conservation measures are put in place to prevent further deterioration and to stabilize the object, but scratches in the paint or dents in metal, for example, are for the most part left as is. This is because they stand as evidence of an object’s past, as markers of its experience, and they speak to its history in a way that repairing them would erase. So in our exhibit you will see clocks that might be bent, marked, or in some other way no longer in pristine condition. These clocks bear the marks of their history.

   A Mandtler clock in MHV’s collection is a good example of how the imperfections in an object can be more important than its restoration to perfect condition. The story told by the donor at the time this clock was donated to our museum is that the scratches marring the clock’s face were made by anarchists’ swords during a home invasion in the Soviet Union prior to the family’s emigration.

   Artefacts in a museum’s collection also change legal ownership from individuals to the museum. They receive a high level of protection as part of the collection, with strict environmental, access, and care restrictions placed on them, and they become accessible to the public in ways that objects held in private homes don’t typically have the opportunity to be. As MHV’s curator, I feel honoured when I get to sit down with individuals who are donating items to our collection and am entrusted with not just the item itself, but also with the history the item has carried for that person or that family, sometimes for generations. I count these interactions with donors as one of the most fulfilling parts of my job and some of my key reasons for doing what I do.

   In contrast to museum artefacts, objects kept in people’s homes in the community continue to accumulate a history. They continue to have a life of their own. The clocks loaned from the community for our current exhibit are part of the life in the houses from which they come, part of the story of their owners’ lives. These living objects don’t have the restrictions placed on them that artefacts in museum collections do, so they are free to be repaired, painted over, or otherwise altered – sometimes for better and sometimes perhaps not. Visitors to The Art of Mennonite Clocks will see wonderful examples of beautifully repaired clocks, like Ernest Braun’s Werder clock (see last week’s “Village News” column), as well as examples of more debatable restoration choices. Even their temporary presence in this exhibit becomes a part of the history of these living objects in a way that’s quite different from artefacts held in museum collections. These community clocks come from private homes and are sharing a family history in a very public way. These objects will undoubtedly be deeply missed in family homes during their time in our exhibit, so it is quite special that they’ve been loaned to us. We are grateful to those individuals who have contributed so richly to our exhibit by sharing their clocks with the public in this way.

   As we heard from the stories that were told at our exhibit opening a few weeks ago, Mennonite wall clocks are a unique artefact, with a full and rich history. MHV, with our collected artefacts, and KCHF, with the stories and visual records in its virtual collection, both have a role in helping to preserve this history. We hope to do so through our current exhibit as we highlight the role which these unique objects played in the span of Mennonite history. As visitors will also see in the exhibit, there is still much more to be done in terms of research on individual clocks and on this group of objects as a whole. So in addition to generating interest in the clocks themselves, we hope that our exhibit will also spur research into the material and social history surrounding these artefacts and their various makers.

Our goal with this exhibition is that visitors experiencing The Art of Mennonite Clocks will see these clocks as bearers of a long history and as works of art, inside and out, in their own right.

Calendar of Events

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)

Photo caption:

As a central piece of the Mennonite home, clocks often bear markers of the experiences of their owners. This clock hung in the home of Abram and Susanna Loewen of Neu-Schoensee, New Russia. During the Russian Revolution, the soldiers’ swords scratched the paint on the clock, a reminder of this tumultuous period in Mennonite history.

Village News

History of a Werder Clock

   “I have good news and bad news,” was what the late Arthur Kroeger said to me on the phone in June of 2013. The good news was that he had managed to repair my clock, but the bad news was that it was not a Kroeger clock.

   The clock is a round-face Werder design which, according to Mr. Kroeger, was no longer made after 1840. Moreover, the primitive face painting, unusual one-hand mechanism, and two-piece face design are indications that the clock was manufactured in Prussia by a non-Mennonite tradesman and then brought to Russia (Ukraine), most likely by a Mennonite family.

   Which family that was is a matter of speculation. What is certain is that the clock arrived in Manitoba aboard S. S. Peruvian in July 1875 in the possession of the Wall family, either the son Johann (1848) as family legend suggests, or the widow of Johann Wall Sr. (1818), Susanna Krahn (1824), who had in the meantime married Johann Mueller. Both son and mother ended up in Rosengart, West Reserve, where the clock kept time for over thirty years.

   There are some unknowns: was the clock purchased new or second hand? Was the clock brought into the family from a wife’s family at some point along the way? How did the clock get into the possession of the Johann Wall family? If in fact the clock was purchased new by an ancestor of Johann Wall (1848) who brought it to Manitoba, then a most likely scenario is that his great grandfather Johann Wall (1768) of Danzig acquired the clock there prior to emigration in 1795, and it was passed on to the succeeding generations of sons until it ended up on the ship with his great grandson. If the clock was bought second hand, then its provenance is impossible to guess. If the clock came via a wife’s family, then again the trail leads to Prussia and an early acquisition date by either the unknown wife of Johann Wall (1768) or perhaps via Helena Redekopp (1798) the wife of his son Johann Wall (1793).

   The clock can be placed with certainty in the hands of the Johann Wall family of Neuendorf, Chortitza, prior to emigration. From Russia the clock has again followed the migrations of Mennonites, coming to Manitoba to arrive in Rosengart, West Reserve. According to Susan Wall Funk (1927), the clock was inherited by her father, Isaak Wall (born in 1886 in Rosengart, WR), one of the younger sons of Johann Wall (1848). GRANDMA data base indicates that before 1909 the family moved to Saskatchewan where several children were born. In 1922 or so, Isaak Wall took the clock to Mexico with him and it kept time for them in Blumenhof, Swift Colony. In 1936 they returned to Manitoba, living in the Morris area, and later in the Plum Coulee district. Upon the death of Isaak Wall in 1946, the clock ended up with daughter Mary Wall, who eventually gave it to her sister Justina (Wall) Doerksen, the youngest. Somehow, during that time, maybe during a move, the pendulum was lost. Susan Wall Funk commented that it had been fairly worn already at that time, but still serviceable. The last direct descendant to own the clock was Susan Wall Funk, who lived near Grunthal with her husband Jacob. During the years in Grunthal, a new pendulum was constructed by John Broesky. In the 1990’s, the Funks sold their place and moved to Kleefeld, having an auction at which the clock was sold to Orlando Hiebert, a relative of both Susan Wall Funk and her husband Jacob Funk. Ernest Braun, Tourond, bought the clock from Orlando in fall of 2012 and took it to Arthur Kroeger to be repaired.

   Today it is part of The Art of Mennonite Clocks, the new exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), jointly sponsored by the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation and MHV.

Calendar of Events

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)

Village News

The Magic of Clocks

   The Art of Mennonite Clocks, our new exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery, was formally opened to the public with a ceremony on Manitoba Day, May 12. A crowd of enthusiastic guests heard introductory comments by Andrea Dyck, Curator at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and manager of this exhibit, and Liza Kroeger, Director of the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation, a partner in this exhibit. These were followed by stories about how some of the clocks in this exhibit happen to be in Canada today. Guests then spent time exploring the exhibit, which consists of more than 30 clocks and interpretive panels that tell the stories about them.

   The Kroeger Clock Heritage Foundation has been established by the family of the late Arthur Kroeger, a descendent of the Kroeger clock-making family. Mr. Kroeger was a friend of MHV and the author of Kroeger Clocks, published by MHV and currently sold at Village Books and Gifts in the Village Centre. We are grateful for the resources this foundation has brought to the new exhibit. We also appreciate the support of the MHV Auxiliary and Manitoba Heritage Grants, which also helped make it happen.

   Some of the clocks in this exhibit have come from our MHV collection, some from the collection of the Manitoba Museum, and some from individuals who have graciously loaned them to us. We are thankful for all of these contributions, which together have resulted in an outstanding exhibit.

   One of the things I find intriguing when I consider these clocks is the fact that so many were brought to this country by people immigrating, often under very adverse and stressful circumstances. It’s hard to imagine a more challenging possession to pack and transport for weeks, or sometimes months, of travel.

   Some of the stories we heard on Saturday provided details of the arduous journey the clocks (and their owners) had to endure. One of our storytellers, as a young boy, had his family’s clock stored under his seat on the horse-drawn wagon traveling for months from Russia to Germany. Another said that when their clock was hung on the wall, their new house felt like a home.

   These clocks had such high value to the families who owned them that they went to unusual lengths to keep them in their possession. I wonder what made the clocks so important. Was it their economic value? Were they heirlooms handed down from previous generations, carrying more sentimental value than economic value? And how does my own value system today align with the value systems of my forebears who brought such clocks with them? Thanks to Andrea Dyck and her team of talented people, I and many others will now have a year to reflect on these questions and talk about them with our families, friends and acquaintances.

   The Art of Mennonite Clocks will be on display in the Gerhard Ens Gallery until about this same time next year. This stunning exhibit is well worth the trip (or several trips) to MHV to explore it.

Calendar of Events

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)

Village News

Partnerships Wanted

   What would all of us do without partnerships? While our culture pushes us toward independence in many aspects of life, we really are quite dependent on others for many things that make life both livable and enjoyable.

   We partner with medical practitioners in our efforts to maintain good health. We collaborate with educators to develop knowledge and skills. Farmers, food processors and grocery stores become our partners in maintaining our food supply. In many cases we partner with a spouse in raising a healthy, productive and community-minded family.

   Healthy museums will typically have a variety of productive partnerships as well. Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is fortunate to have many friends who support us in a variety of ways. We have previously highlighted the relationships we have with a number of organizations. For example, our MHV Auxiliary fundraises on our behalf. The Steinbach and Area Garden Club plants and maintains our gardens through the summer in exchange for meeting room space. The Southeast Implement Collectors support our Tractor Trek and stage an annual Vintage Tractor Show in support of MHV. The Southeast Draft Horse Association faithfully uses their teams of horses to do heritage demonstrations and give wagon rides on festival days. And Steam Club ’71 members own a steam engine located on the museum grounds, which they operate on our festival days.

   There are many local businesses and individuals who provide us with goods and services that enable us to run this operation. Others provide sponsorship and donations to enable us to purchase these goods and services. Federal, provincial and municipal governments provide support for museums through various legislations and grant programs.

   I was also reminded of another level of partnership recently when I encountered three people cleaning all the items behind the display glass in the Reimer Store on MHV’s Main Street. The volunteers doing this cleaning are actually descendants of the late John C. Reimer, the man who donated that building and many of the artifacts in it to MHV. In fact, one of the three is a daughter of Mr. Reimer, and the other two are his granddaughters. So the baton is being passed on to the next generation. These three women attend to this cleaning task regularly and do so without MHV’s prompting.

   We have a similar partnership in the Reimer Tinsmith and Harness Shop, which is located behind the Blacksmith Shop. Two generations of Reimer descendents annually spend a half-day thoroughly cleaning this shop.

   There is certainly no glamour in doing this work. The only compensation they receive is a warm word of thanks and a half-priced meal ticket at our Livery Barn Restaurant. Perhaps their reward comes from the realization that generations of people will be enjoying and learning from these buildings and their artifacts. Or maybe it’s the service to our community that motivates these generous people. Providing this kind of support to MHV serves to enhance this community meeting place and world-class tourist destination.

   Would you be interested in serving MHV and our community in a similar way? We would be happy to engage more individuals, families, social/church groups, and businesses in “adopting” a building, or even an old tractor, truck or car, with a commitment to restore and maintain it. There are many such opportunities here, and we’ll gladly help you find one that is a good match for you. Call us at 204-326-9661 or send an email to [email protected].

Calendar of Events

May 12, 9:00AM–5:00PM - Manitoba Day (FREE Admission)

May 12, 10:00AM - Gardening Workshops

May 12, 11:00AM - Manitoba Day Ceremony

May 12, 1:00PM - Exhibit Opening: The Art of Mennonite Clocks

May 13, – 11:30AM–2:30PM - Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM - Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

Village News

MB Day

Manitoba Day at the Museum

   On Saturday, May 12, our province is celebrating its 148th birthday. Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is joining in with planned festivities.

   How would you celebrate a milestone? With a cake? With singing? With family activities? Or with story-sharing among friends and relatives? At MHV, you can experience all these things on Manitoba Day.

   Manitoba is rich in its diversity. At Mennonite Heritage Village, we tell the story of the Russian Mennonites who travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and halfway across the North American continent, beginning in the 1870’s. They came here to maintain their religious freedoms and to pursue economic opportunities.

   We recognize that the story we tell at our museum is part of a larger Manitoba story that includes the Metis communities, the Indigenous communities and the many other European settlers who decided to make Manitoba their home. Manitoba continues to welcome newcomers to our province every year, from all parts of the world. Although our museum does not have the resources to tell everyone’s story, we value every person and their history. So we invite the whole community to come join us in celebrating our home, Manitoba.

Manitoba Day Activities – May 12

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM – Museum Grounds and Village Centre have FREE admission all day.

10:00 AM - Plant Pansies for Mom: A Manitoba Day Celebration

   Children will experience the joys of gardening as they learn to plant pansies. Experienced gardeners from the Steinbach and Area Garden Club will show children how to plant pansies in a pot, complete with a Manitoba flag, that they can take home for Mother's Day.

10:00 AM - Yoga For Gardeners: A Steinbach and Area Garden Club Workshop

   Led by a certified Yoga Instructor, you will learn some gentle exercises to help prevent sore muscles as you begin gardening this spring. You will come away from this 1/2-hour workshop refreshed and ready to begin your gardening journey. Everyone is welcome to attend. No experience is necessary.

11:00 AM – Flag-Raising Ceremony and Short Program

   We will highlight the significance of Manitoba Day with speeches by dignitaries and local government officials and with music by the choral ensemble ACCENT. The flag-raising ceremony will be followed by food and conversations as birthday cake and coffee/beverages are served.

1:00 PM - Official Exhibit Opening: The Art of Mennonite Clocks

   This new exhibition showcases 33 Mennonite wall clocks and their stories, spanning more than two centuries. It is a joint exhibition created by Mennonite Heritage Village and the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation.

All Day - Our Outdoor Village will be open to everyone, the Livery Barn Restaurant will be serving its menu of traditional Russian Mennonite food, Village Books & Gifts will feature an assortment of handmade toys, clothing and household goods, as well as new and used books, and Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides will be available all day.

MHV Calendar of Events

Tuesday, May 1 - Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant now open for the season

Sunday, May 6, 2:30 PM - MHV Auxiliary Faspa (Mennonite Floor Patterns - Margruite Krahn)

Saturday, May 12 - Manitoba Day (ceremony, workshops, wagon rides, etc.)

Saturday, May 12, 1:00 PM - New Exhibit Opening: The Art of Mennonite Clocks

Sunday, May 13, 11:30 AM - Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet: Take mom out for a Mennonite feast at the Livery Barn Restaurant

Saturday, June 9 - 9th Annual MHV/Eden Foundation Tractor Trek

For more information, call 1-204-326-9661, email us at [email protected], or visit our website at .

Village News

Endowment Funds

   The prospect of having someone else match or stretch one’s own donation to a worthy cause is attractive to many people. In 2014 a friend of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) offered to match all new donations earmarked for a specific project, up to a maximum of $100,000. By the end of that year, funds had been raised to that amount, so our friend issued a matching cheque, and MHV was doubly blessed.

   We have a similar yet very different opportunity available to us now. On April 1, 2018, the Manitoba Government initiated the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program where new private donations to the endowment fund of a museum or an archives will be matched at a rate of 50 cents per dollar. The Province has made $5,000,000 available for this for a three-year period beginning April 1.

   An endowment fund is a pool of money invested for the specific purpose of generating ongoing revenue for an organization. In other words, the fund itself is not available for use, but the investment earnings from it are usable and will continue to be in perpetuity. For example, twenty years ago, friends of former federal cabinet minister Izzy Asper rallied to establish such an endowment fund. They collected $265,000 to be invested. In the succeeding 20 years, the earnings from this fund have provided gifts to its beneficiaries of $270,000, and the fund has a current value of $315,000. In addition to contributing more than its original value, the fund itself has grown.

   For the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program, the Winnipeg Foundation will be managing all dollars raised during these next three years. After that, the funds for each participating organization will be transferred to local community foundations, in our case the Steinbach Community Foundation Inc.

   MHV currently owns a small endowment fund, managed by Abundance Canada, which is worth just under $100,000. The income it generates is used to assist with the operation of our museum. Many universities have substantial endowment funds, some of which are clearly earmarked for scholarships or bursaries.

   This Manitoba Government initiative is a new opportunity for MHV and for our constituency. Between now and March 31, 2021, every dollar donated to our MHV Endowment Fund, to an accumulated maximum of $50,000, will be stretched by an additional 50 cents by the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program. The limit of $50,000 has the potential to expand at the end of the three-year period, depending on how successful the other museums and archives have been in their fundraising.

   We are delighted about this opportunity and hope that many of our constituents will find it compelling as well. At the same time, we hope that donations made to the MHV Endowment Fund will not “cannibalize” donations that would otherwise be going into our annual operating fund. It is essential that we maintain a sufficient revenue stream to fund the daily operations of MHV.

   Donations to the MHV Endowment Fund can be made in person, by mail, or through the Canada Helps facility on our website at Securities donations are also welcome and would be processed by the Winnipeg Foundation.

   While the static nature and the relatively conservative investment strategy of an endowment fund may seem less than appealing to some donors, we need to remember that this fund will continue serving our organization for the future life of MHV.

Calendar of Events

April 26 – 7:00PM, Volunteer Orientation

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

May 6 – 2:30PM, MHV Auxiliary Faspa (Mennonite Floor Patterns - Margruite Krahn)

May 12 – 9:00AM–5:00PM, Manitoba Day

May 13 – 11:30AM–2:30PM, Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet

Village News

Volunteers Matter

   Today Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) hosted a class of Grade 11 students from one of our local high schools. A question posed to us during a conversation with the group was, “What are the most significant challenges of operating the museum?” The answer to this common question is “money and volunteers.” We need money to operate the museum, and in order to be frugal with the limited dollars available to us, we try to get as much work as possible done by volunteers. Volunteers have only so much time and energy to give and are in high demand by other organizations as well. So MHV’s invitation to potential volunteers needs to add attractive value to their lives.

   People living in this part of Manitoba are regularly made aware of numerous opportunities to volunteer their time and talents to worthy causes. Many organizations including schools, churches, sports teams, and various other charities are dependent on volunteer labour. Most of these organizations would not be able to pay for the skilled labour they need and still make ends meet. Our community has a wealth of individuals who know the value of volunteering and who willingly participate in one or more causes.

   MHV offers many varied options to anyone who wants to volunteer. Some people make themselves available for a three-hour shift during one of our major festival days (Canada Day, Pioneer Days, or Fall on the Farm) to help cook in the Short-Order Booth, supervise parking, sell tickets, provide demonstrations of heritage skills, or other similar tasks. Some volunteers come once a week to work on a task like mowing lawns or maintaining gardens. Others enjoy coming almost daily in May and June to support our Education Program, as up to 200 school children per day visit us on their field trips. These Education Program volunteers function as historical interpreters in various of our heritage buildings, drive the team for our horse-drawn wagon rides, or teach the children how to bake Schnetje.

   There are some significant benefits to volunteering at MHV. These include an opportunity to meet new people, a warm satisfaction that comes with serving one’s community, a free Season Pass to our museum, and a 50% discount on a meal in our Livery Barn Restaurant on the day that one is volunteering. That’s a pretty good value proposition.

   Our current list of volunteers includes over 300 names. These people range in age from 14 to 84, and perhaps even a little older. There are tasks suitable for this entire age range. We are thankful for each one who willingly helps with any of these tasks. Because no one can volunteer forever, we are particularly thankful when new volunteers join us to step in for those who are no longer able to participate.

   We will be hosting a Volunteer Orientation event on Thursday, April 26, at 7:00 PM in the MHV Auditorium. This will be a time for existing volunteers to be briefed on regulations and procedures for our upcoming season. It will also be a time for new and potential volunteers to learn more about the many various opportunities that exist here and to connect with our staff members.

   Please consider checking out what we have to offer at MHV. If you are unable to attend and would like to know more about volunteering at MHV please check out our website at or call 204-326-9661 and ask to talk with Robert Goertzen. A community with many volunteers is a healthier community.

Calendar of Events

April 19 – 7:00PM, Auxiliary Film Night: Seven Points on Earth

April 26 – 7:00PM, Volunteer Orientation

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

May 12 – 9:00AM–5:00PM, Manitoba Day

May 13 – 11:30AM–2:30PM, Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet

Village News

Is One Museum Like Another?

   Six staff members from Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) traveled to Morden, Manitoba, this week to visit the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC). It is one of Manitoba’s seven Signature Museums and one of over 200 museums spread across our province. This museum focuses on the discovery, preservation and interpretation of marine reptile fossils found in the Morden/Miami area and throughout the province. They are not a dinosaur museum, although they do have dinosaur fossils. Dinosaurs lived on land, whereas the mosasaurs in this collection inhabited the sea which at one time covered much of central and eastern Manitoba from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. There is much more information about the interesting work of the CFDC on their website at

   These fossils, the artifacts which the CFDC preserves and works with, were first discovered in the twentieth century and continue to be excavated to this day. The geological structure in that area consists of layers of bentonite interspersed with layers of shale. Bentonite is a clay that has been mined there for decades. As layers of bentonite were mined and cleared out, layers of shale were broken up to access the next strata of bentonite. In breaking up the shale, fossils were discovered but initially viewed only as a curiosity. In about 1970 it was realized that these might be rather significant geological artifacts, so at that point serious collection and study were initiated.

   The artifacts at Mennonite Heritage Village are largely everyday domestic items which go back 100 years and more. So by comparison, they are very “new” artifacts but they have been collected and preserved for a long time. And none would likely be classified as a “significant” discovery in the broader world.

   The artifacts (fossils) at the CFDC have stories within them, as do the artifacts at MHV. And it’s those stories that make collecting and exhibiting them so interesting. Being so old, the fossils don’t yield their stories easily. Much study and research needs to happen in order to understand what life may have been like in this great prehistoric sea millions of years ago. In contrast, at MHV we find it relatively easy to collect the stories about our artifacts. In many cases, the donors who bring them to us can sit down and tell us where they come from, why they are here, and what their significance was to our forebears 100 or more years ago.

   While there are pronounced differences in the way CFDC and MHV operate their respective museums, there are also significant similarities. Both museums run a variety of robust programs, and our education programs appear to be quite similar. Staff and volunteers in both locations create curriculum geared to provide education about their artifacts to people of all ages. Most notably, we both focus on school children. Museums are popular places for teachers to take their students on field trips and for parents and grandparents to take their children and grandchildren for a family outing. Both museums also offer guided programs, day camps, and general availability to the public.

   Both CFDC and MHV are significantly dependent on volunteers. Very few, if any, museums in Manitoba are able to operate without the support of volunteers. These generous people assist with delivering the education programs, preparing artifacts, maintaining facilities, and much more.

   Museums such as ours also depend on their communities to support them financially, through cash or in-kind donations or through sponsorships. Governments, businesses, and individuals regularly step up to the plate with support for these entities that do so much to improve the quality of life in their communities.

   As unique as each of Manitoba’s 200 museums is, all work hard to preserve valuable historical artifacts and records, and all are eager to host guests from across the province and beyond. This summer, when so many museums will be open, why not consider a day trip, or several, to visit some of these treasures in our province.

Calendar of Events                                           

April 19 – 7:00 PM, Auxiliary Film Night: Seven Points on Earth

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

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

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.