West Reserve 140th Anniversary

   The first Mennonites to come from Russia to Canada arrived in Southeastern Manitoba in 1874, in the area then known as the East Reserve and today as the Rural Municipality of Hanover. This is one of the reasons why the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is located where it is.

   According to an article written by Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein and published in Manitoba Pageant some time ago, Russian Mennonite immigration to Canada peaked the following year, making up 12% of settlers in Canada. As all the land previously designated for this people-group was taken up, new areas were explored, including land west of the Red River. The area between Emerson on the Red River and Mountain City, a small community just south of Morden at that time, was also considered and subsequently settled by many Mennonites. A parcel of 17 townships extending 18 miles north of the US/Canada border became known as the West Reserve, today making up the Rural Municipality of Rhineland (ten townships) and the Rural Municipality of Stanley (seven townships).

   Klippenstein further states that in the same year, 1875, many Mennonite immigrants arrived at Fort Dufferin, just north of Emerson, having come by steamer from Moorhead, Minnesota. These immigrants largely made their way west and settled in villages, in keeping with dwelling patterns from Russia and also used in the East Reserve. Eventually more than 50 villages were established. The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) states that more than 3,000 settlers arrived in the West Reserve in 1875 and another 800 in 1876. By 1880 a significant number of Mennonites had migrated from the East Reserve to the West Reserve, despite the fact that the land was almost treeless and they had to haul logs for fuel and lumber from forests farther west.

   Blumenort and Reinland were two of the first villages to take shape in the West Reserve. The first church in this area was built in Reinland and is today the Community Centre in the village.

   This Community Centre in Reinland will be conducting a dedication service for its cemetery and celebrating Reinland’s 140th birthday on July 18. As part of this day of celebration, the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society (MMHS) will commemorate the 140th anniversary of the arrival of Mennonites in that area formerly known as the West Reserve. A Book Launch for Outsiders Gaze: Life & Labour on the Mennonite West Reserve 1875 – 1922 will be part of the afternoon event.

   Celebrations begin at 11:00 a.m. with a parade of innovations. Lunch and supper will be available, and the evening will include Low-German and other entertainment and fireworks at dusk.

Calendar of Events

July 31-August 3 – Pioneer Days (10:00–6:00 daily)

August 10-14 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

September 7 – Fall on the Farm (10:00-5:00)

September 9 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament

September 20 – Supper From the Field

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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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