The Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society (MMHS) was incorporated in 1964 with a view to preserving and researching Mennonite History in various forms. This act established the groundwork for a museum, today known as Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). In 1979 the MMHS formally became two separate groups. The museum was mandated to preserve Mennonite history through the collection of artifacts and the interpretation of the stories accompanying those artifacts. The group retaining the MMHS name then focused on research, writing, publishing, teaching and the like.
On April 26, 2014 the MMHS held its Annual General Meeting at the Community Centre in Neubergthal. Approximately 30 people participated in the day’s activities. Both the East Reserve and the West Reserve were well represented.
The morning was spent at the sight of the Bergthal School Project in the village of Neubergthal. This building, the Altbergthal School, was constructed in 1904 on a sight three miles west of Altona. In 1982 the building was moved to Altona to serve as a museum. More recently the building, having fulfilled its museum role, was moved to Neubergthal to be preserved as a historic building.
Our tour of the building allowed us to see some interesting elements of its history. The interior walls had been removed to replace windows. These walls revealed that the school was built with three relatively small windows on either side of the classroom. These windows had been replaced by much larger windows on one side and small high windows on the other side, a pattern common in most one-room school buildings of the past. All the desks were oriented so that the students would have the natural light source on their left. As part of the restoration project these windows were removed and narrower windows were installed to match the original configuration.
After a fine lunch of home-made soup, bread and pie, the Annual General Meeting was convened. Hans Werner chaired the meeting, Eleanor Chornoboy recorded minutes and Bert Friesen provided financial reporting. The financial statement revealed that the operation had generated a surplus of just over $4000 in 2013.
A major item in the afternoon sessions was the implementation of the recently amended bylaws. An Advisory Council with members from the two standing committees of MMHS and two individuals each from the four Affiliate Members (Mennonite Heritage Village, The Chair of Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg, The D F Plett Historical Research Foundation, and GAMEO Manitoba) were appointed. Additional affiliated members may be considered in the future.
Seven members were elected to the board of directors. These directors will provide leadership to the activities of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. It’s good to see a renewed vision for effective and efficient functioning of the organization.