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

Village News

Heritage Classic

   For some of our readers, the words “Heritage Classic” will immediately bring to mind our annual golf tournament, the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament. However, those who visited Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) this past Sunday will more likely think of our Heritage Classic Car Show. Both are valid associations with the term.

   The first Sunday in June has traditionally been the date of the Lions Club’s annual Wheels of Hope Lions Charity Car Show. For many years MHV has been the venue for this event. When the Lions Club gave notice that they would not be planning a car show for this year, we at MHV decided that such an event was too good and important to drop. And at that point MHV’s Heritage Classic Car Show was conceived.

   Patricia West, our Development Coordinator, clearly brought much of the energy and passion to the project. She had been attending the show since she was a small girl and couldn’t bear to see it disappear. So she rallied some staff participation, wrote a plan and a budget, recruited some volunteers, and delivered our first-ever MHV car show last Sunday.

   The project wasn’t actually quite as simple as this might sound. It has been suggested that some classic car owners won’t even consider taking their vehicle out of the garage if there are any significant clouds in the sky. We were also told there are other car shows within driving distance of our facility almost every weekend at this time of year, and possibly some during the week. Despite these potential hindrances, close to 100 classic cars and trucks, plus a few motorcycles, registered for judging at our newly minted event.

   MHV’s Heritage Classic Car Show is a great family event. Everyone who came last Sunday to see the beautifully restored vehicles also got to see the entire museum. We provided significant play value for children, offering horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, painted tattoos, an inflatable bouncer, a petting zoo and a lot of open space for running around. By planning and hosting such events, MHV serves our community by adding to the quality of life of its residents.

   We would like to begin planning our second annual Heritage Classic Car Show very shortly and would value suggestions and ideas about how we could make the show even better. Contact Patricia West at [email protected] or at 204-326-9661.

Tractor Show

   This coming Sunday, June 11, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the Southeast Implement Collectors will be staging their vintage tractor show at MHV. Dozens of beautiful old tractors will line our Village Main Street for the day. Tractor owners and operators will be participating in some skill-testing games, and there will also be a parade of all the tractors on display. This will be a great opportunity to mingle with other tractor enthusiasts and share stories and memories from the past. In addition to the tractor exhibits and activities, the entire village and Livery Barn Restaurant will be open for you to explore and enjoy. Surely a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Calendar of Events

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

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

Village News

Joining the Team
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are in the process of hosting tryouts for their team. The rookies arrived last week and the veterans joined them on Sunday. There are a lot more players trying out for the team than will be selected to stay. The team will play two preseason games to complete their tryouts and training. Then the real season begins.
At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) we don’t have a preseason or training camp where all prospective staff and volunteers are assessed “in action” and then only some are invited to stay. However we usually do have a lot of applicants vying for the few paid jobs we have to offer.
For our 2017 season, we have invited three rookies to join our staff, who will become well acquainted with many of our volunteers over the summer. Kayla Berg will be our Education Program Coordinator. She and Alanna Donohoe, our Education Program Assistant, will organize and administer our Education Program during the summer months. They will host thousands of students coming to MHV on school field trips, recruit and resource the volunteers who faithfully come to deliver this program, host daycare groups, and run the Pioneer Day Camps in July and August.
The third team member to join us is Tamara Unrau, who will serve as our Program Assistant. As the “right hand” for our Program Director, Anne Toews, she will assist with preparing for festival events and calling volunteers to invite participation at various levels. Our volunteers can expect to hear pleasant and enthusiastic approaches from all three of these rookies at some point this summer.
While many people typically apply for our paid jobs, there are even more people who happily volunteer in many and various roles we have at MHV. Two areas require the largest number of volunteers. The Education Program has already been mentioned. This is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys interacting with children. We need volunteers to explain what life was like in a one-room school, help with a craft or schnetje-baking, assist with horse-drawn or tractor-drawn wagon rides, tell a story of what is was like to spend a winter living in a Semlin, and other similar roles. This is normally a two to three-hour shift and usually ends around noon.
The other major volunteer opportunity is for our festival days, including Canada Day, Pioneer Days, and Fall on the Farm. Each day has about 100 volunteer shifts that need to be filled, so the opportunities (and the needs) are significant.
Additionally we need volunteers to work on carpentry projects, operate the old printing press, do demonstrations in the Blacksmith Shop, cut grass, and restore old vehicles.
There is no need to wait for one of our pleasant staff to invite you. Anyone looking for a volunteer opportunity should feel free to let us know by calling 204-326-9661. Our volunteers have the joy of a fulfilling role in an important community initiative and are also eligible to receive a 50% discount coupon for lunch in the Livery Barn Restaurant on the day they are volunteering. MHV is a great place to volunteer.
Calendar of Events
June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show
June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek
June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show
June 16-18: Waffle Booth at Summer in the City
June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day lunch buffet
July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations

Village News

Pennant

   On May 19, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) opened the newly arrived traveling exhibit Nice Women Don't Want the Vote. Developed by the Manitoba Museum to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Manitoba women gaining the right to vote, this exhibit outlines the historical context of the Suffragist movement in Manitoba, identifies the women who had a direct influence in the movement, and acknowledges some of the movement's shortcomings.

   The exhibit title comes from a quote attributed to then-Manitoba Premier Sir Rodmand Roblin in a 1945 book by Nellie McClung: "'Now you forget all this nonsense about women voting,' [Roblin] went on in his suavest tones.'You're a fine, smart young woman, I can see that. And take it from me, nice women don't want the vote.'"

   Despite Premier Roblin's convictions, many women did want the vote. Calls for women's suffrage began as soon as Canada became a country, but women did not get the right to vote federally until 1918. Women in Quebec were only allowed to vote provincially starting in 1940.

   There were two prominent beliefs that underlaid women's belief in their right to vote, though most women did not fully subscribe to one or the other and operated under a mixture of the two. The first was known as equal rights feminism, the belief that women had the inherent right to participate in society as equals to men. The second was maternal feminism, based on the premise that women were perceived to be more inherently moral than men. As such, their participation in the political process would lead to improvements in the lives of women and their children, eliminate social problems, and bring progress to society. Many suffragists also fought for reforms to property laws, which denied women title to their deceased husbands' property, and for temperance, which called for the prohibition of alcohol.

   Although the movement was incredibly important to the lives of women, Nice Women Don't Want the Vote also touches upon some aspects that we find uncomfortable today. For example, enfranchisement (voting rights) was used as a means of assimilation. Women were only "worthy" of voting once they accepted the values of white, mainstream Anglo-Saxon Canadian society. For example, Mennonite men and women were denied the vote under Wartime Elections Act of 1917 due to their status as Conscientious Objectors. The suffragist movement also ignored the rights of Indigenous people. Until 1960, First Nations people, regardless of gender, were not allowed to vote unless they surrendered their status under the Indian Act.

   Ideas about what it means to be a woman have changed drastically in the last century, thanks to succeeding "waves" of feminism, but we still have a ways to go. This makes one think. What other unwritten rules or assumptions do we use to exclude people or groups from participating fully in today's society? What will people think about our culture in a hundred years? 

   After our visitors have gone through this exhibit, we invite each one to vote at our voting kiosk. The option is given to comment on three questions: "What is one issue facing Canadian women today that has yet to be resolved?"; "If you could say one thing to a suffragist from 100 years ago, what would it be?"; "I want to vote because..."

   Nice Women Don't Want the Vote may be viewed in the Gerhard Ens Gallery until June 19.

   "Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live? Do we not bear our part in citizenship? Do we not help build the Empire? Give us our due!" - Nellie McClung

Calendar of Events

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

June 16-18: Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day lunch buffet

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

PHOTO: Pennant

CAPTION: Suffragist pennant, early 20th century. See this and more at Nice Women Don’t Want the Vote, at Mennonite Heritage Village’s Gerhard Ens Gallery until June 19th.

Village News

Open for Business

   Our new event centre, built to replace the big white tent and give us much-improved facilities for programing and community use, served as a very useful overflow facility for our restaurant’s Mother’s Day buffet. Our weekly Sunday Buffet in the Livery Barn Restaurant (LBR) is popular on most Sundays, but it is always most popular on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

   Perhaps the quaint setting in a “barn” or the relaxing walk from the parking lot to the restaurant is the attraction. But more likely it’s the great food and friendly service that keeps people coming back.

   This year just over 400 people chose the LBR as the place to treat “Mom” with a lunch she didn’t need to cook. The restaurant itself only has seating capacity for about 100 people, so additional space was needed. Since the weather was a little too cold and windy to eat at our outdoor picnic tables, our new building saved the day. We had set up just over 100 chairs in there on Saturday, assuming that 200 total seats would be enough as people came and left over a period of three hours. But the extraordinary turnout sent us scrambling to roll out a few more tables and unpack six more boxes of new chairs. In the end, we did find seating for everyone inside the two buildings.

   Features of our new building include glulam beams, a wood ceiling, six large glass overhead doors to allow in a lot of light, and a polished concrete floor. Visitor’s comments about both the venue and the food were positive. We are thankful to the Penn-Co people who worked extra hard to get the building ready in time for this event.

Chortitz Oak Trees

   There are two oak trees in our village that are direct descendants of the great Chortitz Oak Tree in Ukraine. One of them, the one you see when you walk out of the Village Centre onto the village street, produces acorns every year. The squirrels are very quick to pick them up for their winter food supply, but someone managed to beat the squirrels to the harvest some years ago.

   Those acorns were gathered and planted, and little oak trees began to grow in a little plot on the west side of the Peters barn. By now, some of these trees are six and seven feet tall, so we realized it was high time to move them to permanent locations.

   Our main village street is lined with trees, mostly Manitoba Maples. In some places, the trees have died and been removed, leaving open spots. This week we filled nine of those open spots with nine oak trees transplanted from the little plot. Thanks to Dan and Trish Friesen of Timber Trails Tree Farm for bringing their very efficient tree-moving machine to make this job so much easier. The transplanted trees are generation-three descendants of the great Chortitz Oak Tree. The stories of this historic tree will live on at MHV.

Calendar of Events

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show

Village News

Local History Lectures

   On Saturday, May 6, approximately 70 people gathered at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) to listen to three presentations on Family, Food and Spirituality. This was the second annual lecture event hosted by the Eastmenn Historical Committee of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. This year MHV was a co-sponsor. It was a privilege and pleasure to join the committee in offering these lectures to the community.

   The first speaker was Dr. Val Hiebert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence University College. Her topic was Changing Perspectives of Marriage & Family Throughout the History of the Church to the Present. The first part of her talk described the various models of family that have existed through time. She covered the eras of the Old Testament, New Testament, Early Church, Middle Ages, Protestant Reformation, Colonial Period, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, and Twenty-First Century. It was interesting to observe how family dynamics and values changed from one era to another. The place of children and the role of women in the family saw particularly significant changes over time.

   In her discussion about the nineteenth-century family, Dr. Hiebert referred to research done by Winnipeg archivist Conrad Stoesz which explored unique Mennonite family values and practices of that era, some of which were rather startling.

   In light of all of the changes in family values throughout the centuries, Dr. Hiebert pointed out that “traditional family values” has meant different things in different eras. She encouraged us to consider the over-arching principles taught throughout scripture, particularly the two major reoccurring themes of love and justice.

   Daphne Thiessen, a self-proclaimed homemaker, provided wonderful reflections of her joy in planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing food as spiritual exercises. She spoke of her satisfaction with the way that preparing and sharing food causes her to slow down. To Daphne, the preparation of food is much more an art than a science, ensuring that each effort has a unique outcome. The fact that all plants and animals must die before they become food reminds her of the sacrificial gift of salvation.

   Local historian and author, Ernest Braun, rounded out the evening with an interesting discussion on the Waisenamt. This was a mechanism of the early Mennonite communities, going back to the time when Prussia/Poland was home to Mennonites, that sought to ensure that widows and orphans would have the economic means to care for themselves when a spouse/parent died. Braun suggested that this Waisenamt was one the earliest forms of a Credit Union. It was particularly interesting to note that this organization accumulated enough money over time to fund a significant portion of the migration costs for Russian Mennonites coming to Canada in the late 1800s.

   Several of the sessions included a question-and-answer period following the lecture. The organizers intend to publish the content of these lectures sometime in the future to make them available to those who were not able to attend.

   We at MHV are grateful to the Eastmenn Historical Committee for the initiative taken to plan and host these events.

Calendar of Events

May 12: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Manitoba Day

May 14: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM – Mother’s Day Buffet

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors Tractor Show

Village News

Family, Food and Spirituality

   Mom, Dad and three kids. Isn’t that what the family is, and what it has always been? Actually, my Mom and Dad had thirteen kids, but we still fit the pattern of an isolated family unit with definite boundaries. Val Hiebert, a professor at Providence University College, has studied the family from a historical, biblical, and sociological point of view. She will share her insights in a talk at the Mennonite Heritage Village this coming Saturday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m., taking a good look at this idea of the family throughout history from the point of view of the church.

   She says: “We often hear the appeal among Evangelical churches and organizations to return to traditional family values. A chronological journey through the social and theological history of the Church suggests that the Church, influenced by a combination of cultural norms and biblical interpretation, has held to a wide variety of views on what constitutes a biblical marriage and family throughout different historical eras. Social location in history deeply influences how the Biblical text has been and is being read and applied. What might this mean for us today?”

   The evening will also include two short talks on other subjects related to the family and spirituality. Ernie Braun, our local historian and stand-up comic, will talk about the Waisenamt. This was a Mennonite agency which looked after the financial affairs of orphans and single parents. Probably not a natural occasion for comedy, but wait for it.

   In the old days, when one parent died--usually the mother--the rule was that her children were entitled to receive half of the family estate upon reaching majority. That meant they would get half the estate at the time of the death of the mother, so usually this amount had to be kept in trust for the children and invested for their benefit in the meantime. So the Waisenamt had to take care of a lot of money. How did this play out? How did it affect spirituality? Come to Ernie’s talk and find out.

   The other short talk will be given by Daphne Thiessen, a homemaker living in a semi-rural community with husband Randall and two young sons. She is passionate about gardening and cooking and has taken the time to reflect on how this ties in with spirituality. Most of us take these things for granted, but a mindful meditation on food leads us to marvel at its daily blessing. Come for the feast.

   The idea of having annual lectures on historical topics was started last year when the EastMenn Historical Committee sponsored talks about the Métis and the indigenous people of southeastern Manitoba. Those talks have been published in last year’s issue of Preservings. This year the Mennonite Heritage Village has joined EastMenn in sponsoring the talks in their facility. Hope you can make it!

Calendar of Events

May 6: 7:30 PM - Local History Lectures – Family, Food and Spirituality

May 12: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Manitoba Day

May 14: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM – Mother’s Day Buffet

June 4: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Heritage Classic Car Show

June 10: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM – 8th Annual Tractor Trek

June 11: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Southeast Implement Collectors Tractor Show

Village News

It's gearing up to be another busy spring at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). Despite this week’s snow, we are just about ready for the May 1 opening of our village for another season. Besides getting our outdoor village ready, we are hard at work preparing one of this summer's gallery exhibits, Storied Places, which will open on July 1. Storied Places uses artefacts to explore the stories Mennonites tell about themselves and about what it means to call Manitoba “home.” Stories about “place” shape who we are as people, and this exhibit encourages our visitors to think about the stories that have shaped them.

   For the last couple of years, we have been working to involve local schools and institutions in designing and producing our exhibits. This year we welcomed the new Advanced Photography class from Landmark Collegiate to participate in our Storied Places theme. The Advanced Photography teacher, Todd Peters, explained that he was looking for opportunities to apply his students' learning outside of the classroom. We were all too happy to partner with them so that the students could exhibit their theme-inspired photographs beyond their school setting.

   Curator Andrea Dyck and I went to Landmark Collegiate in the fall and spoke about the concept behind Storied Places. We talked about how Mennonites made Manitoba "home" when they first migrated here in the 1870s, and we told some stories connected to our own favourite places. We then asked the Advanced Photography students to think about places that were special in their personal lives. This pondering inspired the photo essays they created to exhibit at MHV, which was their final assignment for the class.

   Teacher Todd Peters and I installed the exhibit over spring break, and Andrea and I were excited to see how well the students' assignments had turned out. Each student in the class had taken photos of places that were important to them, and then explained why by telling the stories behind them. For example, some students wrote about their childhood home, their grandparents' house, or their family's cottage. One student based his assignment on his dad's workshop. Another focused her assignment on the field outside her house; where we might see an empty space, she sees a place full of memories. The students appreciated the opportunity to create and display their own exhibit as well. One student says, "Not only did I get to explore themes in photography, in this case ”places,” but through this, my work can be displayed in a public place for others to see."

   We are also currently partnering with Paul Reimer's Advanced Photography class at SRSS to create their own photo essays to go with our Storied Places theme. Their exhibit doesn't go up until later this spring, but in the meantime you can still view their exhibit from last year, Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Women We Know, on the west side of our auditorium.

   Landmark Collegiate's Storied Places will be on display in the east-side cases of the MHV Auditorium through our summer season.

Calendar of Events

April 27: 7:00 PM – Volunteer Orientation

May 1: 9:00 AM – Outdoor village opens for the season

May 1: 11:00 AM – Livery Barn Restaurant opens for the season

May 6: 7:30 PM - Local History Lectures – Family, Food and Spirituality

May 12: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Manitoba Day

 

 VN 2017 04 27 Mikayla Ps assignment

 

 PHOTO: VN 2017-04-27 - Mikayla P's assignment.jpg

CAPTION: Mikayla's photo essay for Storied Places, on display in MHV's auditorium. She took photographs around her yard and explained why each place was important to her by telling the stories behind them.

Village News

Storied Places

  One of the heritage buildings I especially enjoy visiting at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is the Barkfield School. It’s the public school located just west of the Windmill. The large windows, wooden desks and floors, large blackboard,and displayed textbooks all remind me of the Burwalde School between Winkler and Morden where I attended classes from grades one through eight.

  We normally had about 30 students in the school. I spent all those years in a grade with two other boys. In fact, during the years I attended the school the boys generally outnumbered the girls, which was fine with me because I grew up in a home with two sisters and no brothers, and most of my cousins who were close to my age were also girls.

  The Burwalde School was the place where I learned to read, write and do arithmetic. I learned about English grammar as well assome German grammar. I learned about health and geography, history and music. This was my foundation for much future learning.

  To get my schoolwork done, I needed to learn to focus on my assignment and not be distracted by the other activities in the classroom. This was not always easy because there were usually eight grades in the room, and the teacher was addressing at least one of these grades all the time. The room was rarely silent.

  I learned to enjoy stories and reading. In the back of the classroom there was a library. By today’s standards it was very small, but it had a variety of interesting books including at least one about the Boxcar Children. I may have read that one more than once. Our teacher would usually read to us after lunch, and because we had such a high percentage of boys in the class, we were often able to convince the teacher to read Hardy Boy books.

  On the school yard I learned a lot about sports. I learned to play softball, soccer, football and hockey. Most winters one of the local farmers would level a patch of snow on the school yard, haul truckloads of water with his three-ton truck, and flood a patch of ice. When it snowed he would bring his snow blower and clear the snow off the ice. On this makeshift rink we learned to play hockey at recess. Fortunately it was not highly competitive hockey, because most of us had no safety gear.

  Softball was our school’s competitive sport, where we would regularly play against five other country schools. Often on a Friday afternoon our teacher would borrow a farm truck from one of the farmers so that the entire student body could climb into the truck box and ride several miles to the next school for a ball game. This is where I learned about teamwork and sportsmanship and how to win and lose. I guess I didn’t learn these lessons particularly well, because I find I still don’t really enjoy losing.

  At Christmas time, our school would prepare a program for the broader community. This involved learning songs, poems and individual parts in short plays or dramas. This was my first introduction to choir participation and public speaking. I recall that on one occasion we even did a Low-German play.

  Beyond these numerous educational opportunities, I also learned how to make snow forts and tunnels, hunt gophers on the school yard, make whistles from Caragana seed pods, and play board games inside at recess on cold or rainy days.

  Not all the things we learned have beencritical to ensuring a successful and meaningful adult life, but in many ways the experiences of those eight years in the Burwalde School played a major role in shaping who I am today. Curiously, althoughI don’t remember ever being excited about going to school in those years, my memories of school experiences are largely positive.

  I now enjoy my visits to MHV’s Barkfield School because of the stories from my past which this school brings to mind. We at MHVare interested in hearing your own stories about places that are meaningful to you,particularly stories that are represented by an artifact or heritage building. What can you share with us?

Calendar of Events

April 27: 7:00 PM – Volunteer Orientation

May 1: 9:00 AM – Outdoor village opens for the season

May 1: 11:00 AM – Livery Barn Restaurant opens for the season

May 6: 7:30 PM - Local History Lectures – Family, Food and Spirituality

 

 

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

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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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