West Reserve Arrival
Sunday, September 13, 2015, was a day that I believe will stick in some people’s minds and be part of their conversations for some time to come. At 2:30 p.m. on that sunny afternoon, about 400 people gathered in a large tent at Fort Dufferin (just north of Emerson) to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Mennonites coming via steamship to Canada. From Fargo, North Dakota, they had made their way via the Red River to Fort Dufferin.
The program we had set up for this event included some things from that historical time, such as the Lange Wiesz and other songs of thanks to God. Rev. Peter D. Zacharias was one of the key presenters, speaking on the topic “Why Did They Leave Their Home Country?: From Ukraine to Manitoba, Canada (Fort Dufferin).”
The second presenter was Rev. Abe Wiebe, on the topic “The Unrest That Led the People to East Paraguay in 1948, and the Return Back to Canada”. Another interesting story was presented by Eleanor Chornoboy, called “The Role of Women During Pioneer Years.” Conrad Stoesz, vice–chair of Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society (MMHS), spoke on “The Importance of Fort Dufferin During the 1875–1879 Period of Immigration” and the Post Road. Many hearts were touched by these stories, as some listeners had not heard them before and others were re-hearing them in a more detailed and meaningful way.
We also held the unveiling of the commemorative cairn that was just recently placed on the bank of the Red River close to where the ship docked. Faspa (potluck), including Reeschtje and coffee, was also part of the day’s activities.
This event was a great occasion to reflect on these significant elements of our Mennonite history.