It’s always exciting to bring an old artifact “back to life.” This happened recently with an old hay wagon that had fallen into a state of disrepair.

The information we have suggests that this wagon was used to feed horses at gatherings such as Sunday worship services. The wagon is long and built specifically as a “feeder” for horses, making it suitable for “refueling” horses during the church service.

Last winter a group of volunteers made use of our heated shop to do much of the restoration work. Here’s what Jessica McKague, our Assistant Curator, had to say about the project:

“With MHV’s diverse and extensive collection, there is no shortage of fascinating artifacts to discover and showcase. The number of potential projects here at the museum is endless, so every year we take on a few more, each one challenging us to delve into a different aspect of the Russian Mennonite story. Many artifacts require conservation or restoration, and these can be ambitious goals. However, the process of researching and rebuilding can be as rewarding as showcasing the artifact, bringing it back to its former glory.

“The hay-wagon project undertaken this year is no exception, and has expanded our understanding and appreciation of the incredible ingenuity and skill of our favourite prairie pioneers. Dick Friesen, head of the project, remarked that restoring the hay wagon was a ‘wonderful project with a wonderful crew’. The most difficult part of the project - rebuilding the four wooden dished-out wheels – was significantly helped along by wheelwrights Dave McCallum and Al Peterson, who kindly volunteered their tools and expertise. Dick Friesen and the Mennonite Heritage Village warmly thank the volunteer wagon crew for restoring this c.1890 hay wagon for MHV’s use in parades and demonstrations for years to come.”

Volunteers from left to right: Dick Friesen, Dave McCallum, Henry Zacharias, Cornie Loeppky, Jack Loewen, Peter Kehler, and Dave Ginter. Missing – Al Peterson.

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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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