Western exposure

The Waldheim House

   The Waldheim House is our oldest heritage building and the first one brought to this site. It was built around 1876 by Julius Dyck in the village of Waldheim, Manitoba, three miles south of Morden. The house was dismantled a few years later and moved to a new location outside the village. In the early 1960s it was moved to Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and has been here ever since.

   The years have taken their toll, and the house is now in need of restoration, specifically the roof and the log walls, both inside and outside. For the last several years, we have been looking for resources to do the necessary repairs and have finally found partial funding for it through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Restoration will take place in 2016 and 2017.

   Recently Jerry and Marjorie Hildebrand paid a visit to MHV because they suspected that our Waldheim House may have been the one that Jerry lived in as a young boy. Their exploration of the house convinced Jerry that it had in fact been his home in the past. Following is the article Marjorie wrote after that visit.

   “In 1875, when Mennonites from the Ukraine landed at Fort Dufferin, they fanned out along the southern Manitoba border, establishing villages such as they had known in their former country. One of those villages was Waldheim located in the western end of the West Reserve and settled in 1878 by 24 families, mostly from the Fuerstenland colony of south Russia. The village broke up between 1883 to 1885. An old oak log dwelling in Waldheim, built by Julius Dyck, was moved to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach.

   “My husband, Jerry Hildebrand, lived in that log house when he was a young boy, from 1933 to 1937. He has some clear memories of the four years he lived in that square-timber log house. He also remembers the Krahns and Rempels who were near neighbors. One of the Krahn daughters now lives in the Tabor Home in Morden. When we visited her in August of 2015 she, even though she is 93 years old, remembered the Hildebrands being their neighbors. We visited the MHV this July to check on the house. Jerry is certain that it is the house where he lived in the 1930s.

   “Jerry’s parents, Bernhard and Helena Reimer Hildebrand, were a young couple with four children when they moved to Waldheim from their rented place near Friedensruh. The place had a house with an attached barn, such as the Mennonites had built when in the Ukraine. Starting off as a young farmer, he could only rent the homestead and land here as well. The family was very poor, but Jerry and his sisters had not known life any different, so at the time it didn’t seem that poor. It was the time of the Depression when it hardly ever rained. The earth was dry and the winds would blow the dirt in the air. One year his father seeded 55 acres of wheat at one bushel to the acre and in fall reaped only 50 bushels. That meant he did not reap as much as he had seeded in the ground.

   “One day the children saw their mother dumping a sack of used clothing on the kitchen table. She was crying. The Red Cross had brought used clothing to the community. She chose what she could use for her family and then repacked the remaining articles and passed them on to the Krahns next door who did the same.”

   Such contacts with people who have had first-hand experiences in the buildings which now make up our Heritage Village are especially valuable to us.

Calendar of Events

October 4 – Vespers Service (7:00 PM)

October 15 – Volunteer Appreciation Evening (7:00 PM)

Note:  As of October 1, the Livery Barn Restaurant and Outdoor Village are closed until May 1, 2016.

About the Author

Gary is responsible for the overall management of MHV. Guiding the staff, informing the board, and networking with officials, volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors and other guests. He has a business diploma and a MA in Global Studies from Providence Theological Seminary. With his family he did humanitarian work for 18 years in Asia, including being a CEO of a Compost Enterprise in China. He loves to discuss the Mennonite story and how it is relevant in our world. Learn more about the MHV.

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