Several weeks ago we received an invitation to have a Mennonite exhibit at Winterfest in Morden, Manitoba. This is a relatively new and evolving event which seeks to combine winter activities, such as boot hockey and sleigh rides, with cultural exhibits and entertainment. Having grown up between Winkler and Morden, I seemed to be the logical person to look after this exhibit.
It’s always fun meeting people at these events and introducing them to our heritage. We typically have items in the exhibit that were common many years ago but are now only seen in museums. Things like the wool sock stretchers and the candle holders for use on Christmas trees, which we chose for this particular display. While these may not be uniquely Mennonite artifacts, they do help tell the stories of our forebears and give us a sense of what life was like 100 years ago.
Our exhibit also included some local history and family trees. One of the books on our table provided information about the Cornelius Wiebe family. Cornelius Wiebe (1848-1904), and Helena Wiens (1853-1938) were my great-grandparents. A number of their seven children settled in the West Reserve, some specifically in the area around Morden. Impetus for producing the book came out of a reunion of this family in 1988.
Another local-interest book on our table was Cornelius W. Wiebe, A Beloved Physician by Mavis Reimer. Dr. Wiebe practiced medicine in the Winkler area until well beyond his eightieth birthday. He served the local school board as a trustee from 1929 to 1956. In 1932 he was elected to the provincial legislature as a member of the Liberal-Progressive coalition government. It was interesting to hear people’s memories of Dr. Wiebe as they stopped by our table.
The indoor cultural exhibits at Winterfest seemed to get quite a bit of attention. I’m not sure how the outdoor part fared on that warm, sunny afternoon with virtually no snow on the ground. I do know that the sleigh ride became a wagon ride.