The next event in our series of 50th Anniversary celebrations is Founders Night, which takes place on Saturday, March 22, at 7:00 PM in the Auditorium at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This will be a celebration of the people who had the vision and energy to initiate this museum and put the time and effort into actually making it happen. John J. Friesen, a former MHV board member, has been planning and organizing this event and has an excellent program in place.
When John started this project, the first question he asked was, “Who were the Founders?” There were numerous answers, such as the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, John C. Reimer, the first Board of Directors, etc. While many of these answers were correct, we realized we had to create a definition of a “Founder” for this particular purpose which adequately recognized the people who were instrumental in the initiation and early development of MHV.
After considerable thought and collaboration with numerous people, we decided to recognize both Founders and Builders. Founders, for purposes of this event, are those eight individuals who signed the original incorporation documents which were approved in 1964. They include Klaas R. Barkman, Eugene Derksen, Gerhard Ens, Ted E. Friesen, Harry Loewen, John C. Reimer, Jacob J. Reimer, and John H. Warkentin.
Builders, for our current purposes, are those people who served on the Board of Directors for a term of at least 5 years during MHV’s first 10 years. There are 13 names on this list. The first President of the MHV Auxiliary, Tina Peters, will also be recognized as a Builder.
It is not surprising that many of these people are no longer with us. We have tried to make contact with all still living and with family members of those who are not. We would like to have representation from each family of our Founders and Builders at our celebration event.
The program will also include a number of items in addition to the recognition of the Founders and Builders. The well-known Eastman Male Choir will provide musical inspiration and entertainment with music from the 60’s, and Eric Friesen will be the evening’s guest speaker. Eric is known to many as a long-time radio host on CBC. To others, he is known as the son of Ted E. Friesen, one of the Founders of MHV. Dessert and coffee will be provided by our MHV Auxiliary.
While there will be no admission charged for this event, attendees will be given the opportunity to make donations to cover the cost of a plaque honoring our Founders and Builders, as well as to provide operational support for our museum. Many museums are owned by cities, municipalities and other levels of government. Mennonite Heritage Village (Canada) Inc. is a privately owned, independent museum, controlled and supported by its members.