Village News

What is a Mennonite?

   As a child, I asked my mother what a Mennonite was. She told me it was anyone who was a member of a Mennonite church. In 2008, when the MHV Board of Directors was interviewing me for my current role, I was asked about my view of what a Mennonite is. As I recall, I quoted my mother. They hired me anyway. In fact, I don’t think anyone challenged my response.

   Every now and then I try to engage people in a conversation about what a Mennonite is. Predictably I get various answers. Some people identify themselves as cultural Mennonites. In southern Manitoba, that would likely mean that they grew up in a home where Low-German was spoken and that they enjoyed Faspa as their Sunday afternoon meal and frequently ate foods like Vereniki with Schmauntfatt, Rhubarb Plautz or Plueme Moos. Chances are they also attended a Mennonite Church at some point, and may or may not do so any more.

   These people are identifying with a culture that evolved when a group of Mennonites left Europe in the mid-sixteenth century and fled to Prussia, which today is Poland. After about 200 years in Prussia, this group of Mennonites migrated to Ukraine, an area which then was part of Russia. Then in the nineteenth century, they started migrating to North America, arriving in Canada first in 1874.

   Marty, my wife of 43 years, is also a Mennonite. She grew up in a “Mennonite” home in Bluffton, Ohio, (a “Mennonite” community) and was baptized in a Mennonite church. However, she does not speak Low-German and had rarely heard it until I met her. She grew up eating popcorn for Sunday supper and had never eaten Vereniki with Schmauntfatt, Rhubarb Plautz or Plueme Moos. Marty’s ancestors are from the Swiss Mennonite group. Her people came to North America from Alsace Lorraine, a part of France which was at times German territory. This group has its own cultural uniqueness.

   Some of the European Mennonites who came to North America in the nineteenth century have retained some very conservative lifestyle practices, such as using horses and mules rather than tractors to work their fields, living without the benefit of electricity, or traveling by horse and buggy rather that by a motorized vehicle. We respectfully refer to these as Old Order Mennonites. Their culture is certainly unique in our present times.

   There are currently more Mennonites in Africa and India than there are in Canada. Many of these people have begun to identify as Mennonites more recently and have not developed a unique culture. I’m pretty sure very few of them speak Low-German - or Pennsylvania Dutch, for that matter. And I doubt that many of them ever eat the ethnic foods that we enjoy and serve in our Livery Barn Restaurant.

   When I attend meetings of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, which includes Mennonites from B.C. to Quebec, we don’t talk about the cultural things we have in common. Because when we consider Mennonites from around the world, we realize we don’t have a common culture. Various Mennonite groups have developed unique cultural elements, but these are not all the same.

   What we as Mennonites do have in common is a faith system. A faith system that espouses a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s son, and encourages individuals to make personal choices to model their lives on Jesus’s example, affirmed through baptism. A faith system that practices a community hermeneutic where communities of faith together seek to interpret and understand scripture. A faith system that values peace, sometimes leading to active participation in peacemaking and to conscientious objection to participation in war. A faith system that encourages its proponents to support and care for the unfortunate and the downtrodden. To be sure, Mennonites are not the only people who value and do these things. But these are the things that all Mennonites have in common.

   My intent is certainly not to belittle what we call “Mennonite Culture.” After all, the purpose of our museum is largely to preserve the Russian Mennonite culture. It’s interesting, it’s fun, and there’s no question that it’s important to preserve it. But let’s also remember that we Russian Mennonites are only a relatively small group of Mennonites globally and that the faith aspects all Mennonites have in common are also part of our story and worth preserving.

Calendar of Events

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

April 19 – 7:00 PM, Auxiliary Film Night: Seven Points on Earth

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Village News

Hours, Minutes, Seconds

   This year Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is celebrating clocks, devices for measuring time.
   Whereas nature measures time in years (equinox to equinox) and in days (midday to midday), people are on their own when dividing up each day. There is nothing in nature that sets the length of hours, minutes or seconds.
   So who decided on 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute?
   The honour for the hours seems to belong to Egyptian astrologers living more than 4,000 years ago. Using complex star gazing, they decided that daylight should have 12 divisions and that the night should be divided into 3 or 4 "watches," corresponding to actual time periods when night sentinels stood guard. Maybe that's where we got the word "watch."
   To tell the time, Egyptians used sundials during daylight and water clocks day or night. A water clock was simply a container filled with water which was allowed to drip at a constant rate. Dropping water levels corresponded to elapsed hours. This primitive clock was very inaccurate but close enough for their purposes.

   The 60 minutes and seconds come from the Mesopotamians, also about 4,000 years ago. Whereas we count by 10s, doubtless because we have 10 fingers, they decided to count by 60s. This was nice for them because 60 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30! For people who did not have decimals, this system yielded lots of neat fraction possibilities: 1/30, 1/20, 1/15, 1/12, 1/10, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2. These fractions were very useful in dividing farmland and sacks of barley.

   As astronomy became more sophisticated, a precise system was invented, based on 12 constellations seen along the orbits of the planets, each one rising and setting at more or less equal intervals. This was the first 24-hour system, with 2 hours allotted to each constellation. It gave rise to the zodiac and all that astrological nonsense which is still very much alive today.
   The 24-hour system spread to the Mideast, to India, to Greece and Rome, and from there to us. Curiously, it was also developed in China about 500 BC. Before that, the Chinese had a kind of decimal system but then changed to the 12-hour daylight clock, perhaps due to contacts with the Mideast. Whereas the Middle Eastern love of the number 12 was probably related to the number of "moons" per year, in China it was supposed to have come from the observed 12-year orbit of Jupiter.

   Ancient Hebrews were not fond of astrology for theological reasons, but even they liked the number 12, noting that Jacob had 12 sons, giving rise to the twelve tribes, which probably was echoed in Jesus' 12 disciples.

   Nowadays, the “second” is still the ultimate standard for time measurement. According to Google, it is now defined as "9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that gets an atom of cesium-133 to vibrate between two energy states." Thus an ancient time measurement is enshrined in modern language.

   In more recent eras, the many ordinary and ornate clocks now residing at MHV have faithfully roused Mennonite farmers to get ready to do their milking and schoolchildren to find their boots for the morning walk to school. Now they are resting and waiting for your visit.

Calendar of Events

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

April 19 – 7:00 PM, Auxiliary Film Night: Seven Points on Earth

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Village News

“Must-See-Ums”

   Social media contests don’t usually get my attention, but the one that made its way into my Inbox today was an exception. Maybe it did so because it creates an opportunity for Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) to win a prize and get some added publicity without spending more money.

   This contest has been initiated by Travel Manitoba, a provincial Crown corporation whose purpose is to promote tourism in our province. They focus on local, national and international markets, promoting fishing and hunting lodges, community and music festivals, museums, campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, and a variety of other tourist destinations and activities. They seek to inform tourists about the rich and varied activities that make visiting Manitoba worthwhile.

   As one of seven provincially appointed Signature Museums, MHV has collaborated with Travel Manitoba in a variety of ways. Along with numerous other museums, MHV is currently being promoted as a “Must-See-Um.” Travel Manitoba has created this handle because they believe in the opportunities museums present to the tourism industry. Museums offer a variety of intriguing exhibits, stories and experiences that are not necessarily available elsewhere in their respective communities.

   The contest Travel Manitoba has designed is a friendly competition between “Must-See-Ums” (museums) in Manitoba. Each of the thirty-two museums listed invites people to cast online votes for them. There are five rounds in this competition, and voters are allowed one vote in each round. So it’s important to check the voting site frequently to be aware of the completion of one round and the initiation of a new one.

   To cast your votes for MHV, access the contest at www.exploremb.ca, or on our MHV Facebook site. Scroll down to the “Must-See-Ums Madness” post and click on the link there. This leads to a long page of information and instructions, and eventually to individual boxes for each of the thirty-two museums. Clicking on MHV’s box will make the poll available, allowing one to vote and showing the latest poll results.

   We encourage readers and friends to support MHV in this online contest for two reasons. Sharing such posts on social media is an easy way for our supporters to once again remind friends of the presence and activities of MHV. This competition also puts us in a position to potentially win the grand prize, which is an opportunity to have a professional video made of some aspect of our museum. MHV is on several social media sites, and we have a YouTube channel. All of these are prime places to post a quality video which invites people to engage in the work of MHV.

   So it’s really quite simple. To support MHV in a very cost-effective way, simply vote and share. Thank you for your participation.

Calendar of Events

March 21 – 7:30 PM, Annual General Meeting

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

April 19 – Auxiliary Film Night, “Seven Points on Earth”

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Village News

“What do these stones mean?”

   Last weekend I attended the annual gathering of the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba. Several speakers used stones as images to help illustrate their specific point. One of these speakers referred to an event described in the fourth chapter of the biblical book of Joshua.

   In this narrative we find the migrating Israelites confronted by the Jordan River at flood stage on their trek from Egypt to the “Promised Land.” After miraculously clearing a dry path for them through the river, God instructs one representative of each of the twelve Israelite tribes to take a stone from the middle of the river and together build an altar with them on the other side. The purpose of this altar is “to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them [what happened here]. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6 & 7 NIV)

   A river at flood stage would be a huge barrier to this migrating group of more than 600,000 people, especially with no bridges or ferries in sight. Miraculously the waters were parted, and all the people and their livestock and possessions made it to the other side. The altar was intended to be a reminder to future generations of God’s miraculous provision for the Israelite people - an experience well worth remembering and recounting.

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) might similarly be considered a type of “altar.” It is a “memorial” designed and maintained to remind current and future generations of God’s faithfulness to another people group on a very challenging journey. Spending an hour or two at MHV is a great way for younger people to vividly encounter stories about the experiences of their ancestors, including some of the “Jordan Rivers” they had to cross and how they were enabled to do so.

   While this museum primarily tells the story of the Mennonites who came from Russia to Canada as refugees, beginning in 1874, MHV can also be a reminder to people of other ethnicities of their own stories of immigration and “Jordan River” crossings. Many of the pioneer elements in the Mennonite experience which we display through our artifacts and exhibits are also common to other ethnic groups, such as spinning wheels, butter churns, horse-drawn sleighs, and wood-fired cook stoves.

   Refugees arriving in Canada more recently have come from a wide variety of countries and bring memories of all kinds of experiences with them. It is important that they also find ways to preserve these memories, both the difficult ones and the joyful ones.

   Our daughter and son-in-law recently took their two children to Disney World and related venues in Florida. Undoubtedly one of the family’s objectives in this excursion was to have a good time. Perhaps equally important in the minds of the parents was a desire to help their children build wonderful childhood memories, memories that add to their quality of life and can’t be taken away from them.

   Granted, family trips to Disney World have very little in common with refugee migrations. But our grandchildren will now retain great memories of their recent Florida excursion. The ancient Israelites most surely took with them spectacular memories of crossing the Jordan River on dry ground. And our ancestors who migrated from another country in times of distress have left us with numerous artifacts and stories of their own memories. So when our children ask “What do these stones (museum artifacts and exhibits) mean?” let’s ensure that they get answers that preserve the memories of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents . . . .

Calendar of Events

March 21 – 7:30 PM, Annual General Meeting

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

April 26 – 7:00 PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Village News

Olympics, Controversies, and the Mysteries of Soviet Tea Glass Holders

   As the 2018 Winter Olympics closed in South Korea on Sunday night, my mind wandered to the artefact collection at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This connection might not be one most people would naturally make, so let me explain...

   In 2016, Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History at the Manitoba Museum and MHV’s former Senior Curator, spotted a set of six metal tea glass holders (also called “Podstakannik”) at a sale at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. Noting their unique style and obvious roots in the Soviet Union, he donated them to the artefact collection at MHV. This is where our story begins.

   Although they have earlier roots, glass holders took on a new kind of significance during the Soviet era. Tea in Russia was often served in glasses rather than cups. To provide stability and enable a tea drinker to enjoy the beverage comfortably without touching the hot glass, holders with handles were designed, into which the tea glass was inserted.

   During the Soviet era, these tea glass holders, and the prominent cultural place they occupied in Soviet society, were used by the Soviet government as prime advertising space. All six of the Podstakannik in the Sawatzky donation showcase various achievements of the Soviet era.

   All of them feature a design of grapes and foliage stamped onto the silver-plated copper and nickel alloy. The fronts of four out of the six depict an image of a globe above a branch with leaves on the left and a satellite on the right. In the centre of the globe is the Kremlin, with satellites (including the famous Sputnik 1) shooting upwards towards a crescent moon. The front of another of the glass holders features the image of the Soviet hammer and sickle in front of a building with light beams crisscrossing the sky.

   It is the sixth and final Podstakannik which connected this year’s Olympics and its related controversies to MHV’s artefact collection. The front of this one features the prominent image of the Olympic rings in front of the iconic Olympic torch. Above this there are a star and a flag bearing the year 1980. That was the year Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics and another year of Olympic controversy involving Russia, characterized perhaps most memorably by the US-led boycott of the games as a protest against the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.

   Although their history contains some gaps, we do know that the tea glass holders residing at MHV belonged to Heinrich Hamm, whose family was a part of the “Great Trek” out of the Soviet Union in 1943-1945. While they made it to Germany and received permission to immigrate to Canada, the family’s history states that Heinrich and his older brother Woldemar were separated from their parents as they were getting ready to board the ship, ready to emigrate.  Woldemar was shot and Heinrich was captured by the Soviets and shipped off to Siberia, where he was forced to work in a gold mine. He was finally able to come to Canada in 1965.

   The mystery about these tea glass holders is how they came to be in Heinrich’s possession. From analyzing the design on the four holders celebrating the space achievements of the Soviet Union, we can assume that they could have been manufactured as early as the late 1950s. It would therefore be feasible that Heinrich could have had them in his possession when he came to Canada. Others, however, like the one decorated with the 1980 Olympic rings, was clearly produced long after he left the Soviet Union. We can only guess that perhaps he received this Podstakannik (or even all of them, for that matter) from friends still living in the Soviet Union. Some artefacts don’t give away their secrets that easily.

   These six artefacts have been in MHV’s collection for over two years now, but what brought them to our attention again recently was an unsolicited package we received in the mail a few weeks back. The package contained two tea glass holders with the identical space-themed design as the four in the 2016 Sawatzky donation. What makes these two unique, however, is that they came in their original, mint-condition packaging. Additionally, one of the boxes included a small slip of paper, a type of “Certificate of Authenticity,” also in pristine condition. The certificate indicates that the glass holders were produced as limited editions and that the item inside the box was #411 and was purchased in 1986. While these artefacts still require more research, their addition to the collection helps contextualize the earlier tea glass holders from the Sawatzky donation and help us better understand some of these modern artefacts.

   As a side note, we generally prefer not to receive artefacts  without prior consultation (as in the case above). It is usually a very complicated process to connect with the legal owners, and we need to get a history of the object in order to know if it would fit in our collection. So if you have something you would like us to consider for our museum’s collection, please give us a call and ask to speak to one of the curators. We would be more than happy to discuss your object with you.

Calendar of Events

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

March 30 - Closed for Good Friday

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

Image Caption:

Three of the tea glass holders in MHV’s collection. On the left is the one from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and on the right, the one with the Soviet hammer and sickle (both from the 2016 Sawatzky donation). In the centre is one of the space-themed tea glass holders, with its original packaging, which recently arrived at MHV.

Village News

Winter Carnival

   Planning an outdoor winter festival is risky business, as attendance can easily and significantly be affected by inclement weather. For this reason, we are thankful that last Saturday was a pleasant day weather-wise. A brief spell of cold afternoon wind didn’t seem to discourage the children and parents enjoying our first Winter Carnival at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).

   From 10 AM till 4 PM, guests came to check out our various outdoor activities. A bonfire provided warm-ups as needed, as well as an opportunity to create s’mores. Music DJ’d by Summer Bounce Entertainment enhanced the overall atmosphere.

   The most popular activity appeared to be the horse-drawn bobsleigh rides. Menno Barkman and John Krahn graciously gave of their time to provide the rides, using Menno’s team of Morgans. The hard-packed snow on our village streets made a suitable track for them.

   We are grateful to the City of Steinbach for creating a large outdoor skating rink for our guests to enjoy. There are no boards around it, so it’s not a hockey venue, but a number of guests brought their skates and enjoyed the ice surface for pleasure skating. Sledding opportunities were provided by Fast Brothers, who kindly moved a bunch of snow on our yard to create a small hill.

   In addition to these activities, guests also enjoyed ice bowling, mini-golf, plank (smoosh) races, tug-of-war, and a beanbag toss, complements of sponsors such as The LumberZone, Birch Auto Supplies, Metalmaster Autobody, Firewood 2 Go and PBX. The temperature was just a little too cold to stage the planned snowman-building contest. Perhaps we’ll try a snow-sculpturing contest next year instead.

   In the Village Centre, a beverage bar sponsored by Sweet Life Tea and Coffee Ltd. offered hot chocolate, tea and coffee, as well as some snacks. A canteen staffed by volunteers provided hotdogs and cold drinks sponsored by Sobeys. Each table in the canteen offered one or two table games for guests to enjoy while they warmed their fingers and toes.

   It’s appropriate for MHV to stage such an event, as our museum is an established meeting place in the community. We host three summer festivals attended by thousands of local visitors, as well as tourists from far and wide. We like to help people remember where they came from and how they got here. This Winter Carnival focused on activities that go back many decades, maybe longer. No electronic games were part of this carnival.

   The fact that so many individuals, businesses and organizations stepped up to contribute products and services for this event tells us there is an appetite for a winter carnival such as this in our community. This was our first attempt at staging one. Although attendance was modest, it was clear that our guests were having a great time. Is there enough interest in our community to build on this event and stage another one next year? We would love to hear thoughts and suggestions from our readers. We’d like to know how you think this festival could be enhanced to provide an even more valuable service to our community.

Calendar of Events

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

March 30, closed for Good Friday

May 1, Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the outdoor village

Village News

“I Love to Read”

   Village Books and Gifts, located at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), specializes in a large variety of unique books and gifts that help tell the story of the Russian Mennonites, their immigration to Canada, and the many contributions they made along the way.

   I am excited about the variety of historical, hard-to-find items on our gift shop shelves. Whether you want to cozy up to the fireplace with a good book, or invite friends and family over for a games night, we have something for everyone. Our current business hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and we are open year-round.

   February has been designated as “I Love to Read Month” across Canada. In celebration of this nationwide focus, MHV invites you to our first annual “An Evening with the Authors” on Thursday, February 22, at 7:00 PM in our Auditorium. Five authors will showcase their newest book, answer your questions and sign purchased copies. Light refreshments will follow. Let me introduce the authors to you:

Luann E. Hiebert:

   “Luann lives in Steinbach, MB. She recently received her PhD from the University of Manitoba (2016) — studying contemporary Canadian prairie women’s poetry. She is an adjunct instructor teaching English Literature courses at Providence University College (Otterburne, MB), and a course at SBC (Steinbach Bible College).

   “Her debut poetry collection — What Lies Behind (Turnstone Press, 2014) — was shortlisted for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book and the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry (2015). Her poems have been published in magazines, such as Rhubarb, the Society, Lemon Hound, and Prairie Fire, and more recently, anthologized in 29 Mennonite Poets (Mennonite Literary Society, 2016) and the forthcoming Tree Poems Anthology (League of Canadian Poets, 2018).”

Eleanore Chornoboy:

   “Eleanor Hildebrand Chornoboy published her first novel — a historical fiction, Katarina: Mennonite Girl from Russia, in November, 2017. She has published two collections of vignettes about Mennonite life in rural Manitoba, Faspa: A Snack of Mennonite Stories, and Faspa with Jast: A Snack of Mennonite Stories told by Family and Guests.

   “In addition, she has published two children’s books, Snow Angels and Pajama Tears. Currently she is researching family stories. Eleanor lives in Winnipeg.”

Betty Barkman:

   “Betty has lived on the banks of Joubert Creek for many years and loves it. Betty’s favorite genre is writing true stories, like an autobiography sort of but that reads like a storyteller’s version that is not only easy to read but also intriguing and alive. Betty will be presenting her seventh book.”

Shirley Hiebert:

   “Shirley Hiebert is the daughter of Gertrude Harder from East Steinbach (formerly Hunga Wäare Dee). She is the niece of Bishop Henry K. and Mary Schellenberg. Captain Hiebert was killed in a plane crash in 1993 in northern Ontario. Shirley's career has been in health care, much of it in remote northern communities as a nurse practitioner and researcher. Her PhD research was done in collaboration with First Nations. Her newly released The Captain's Widow written as a creative non-fiction tribute to the people who had a role in her journey is her first book.”

Armin Wiebe:

   “Armin Wiebe is the author of five novels, his latest novel being Grandmother, Laughing. His stage play, The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, is set in the mystical community of Gutenthal. Tatsea, set in Canada’s subarctic at the time of first contact between the Tłı̨chǫ people and the fur traders, was awarded the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. Armin’s Shorts is a collection of short fiction written over a period of more than 30 years.”

Calendar of Events

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

Village News

VN 2018 02 08

New Exhibit (by Jenna Klassen)

   As we patiently count down to spring, we in the Curatorial Department at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) are enthusiastically planning our 2018 exhibit for our Gerhard Enns Gallery. This exhibit focuses on the Mennonite wall clocks that have decorated Mennonite homes and been passed down through the generations. It explores the Mennonite craftsmen who built the clocks, the role of these clocks in Mennonite culture, the changes and differences in clock mechanisms and designs, and the beautiful restorations done by Arthur Kroeger in recent years.

   We are excited to display approximately thirty clocks in this exhibit, many coming from the clock owners in our community. MHV boasts seventeen of our own wall clocks, built by various clockmakers, which demonstrate diverse decorative designs and a range of mechanism complexities.

   To make this exhibit come to life, this year we are partnering with the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation (KCHF), with additional support from the Heritage Grants Program of the Province of Manitoba and the Mennonite Heritage Village Auxiliary.

   Inspired by Arthur Kroeger and his passion for restoring Mennonite clocks, the KCHF has dedicated itself to continuing Arthur’s work. The KCHF is committed to preserving the history of Mennonite clockmaking, Mennonite history as told by the histories of these clocks, and the memories the clocks still hold for their owners today. To do this, the KCHF is professionally photographing Mennonite clocks around the world, documenting their histories through research and interviews with the clock owners, and compiling detailed information about these clocks so we can better understand these historical objects.

   Our partnership with the KCHF has given us at MHV resources that we would not have had access to without this relationship. In addition to financial support, the KCHF has generously given us use of their research materials, beautiful professional photography of clocks already cataloged for their virtual collection, and their staff resources. They have also connected us with clock owners willing to let us display their historical clocks in this joint exhibit.

   Currently, the KCHF is creating a virtual museum where this information will be accessible with just the click of a mouse to all who are interested. More information can be found at www.kroegerclocks.com.

   Although spring feels far off, preparation for such an exhibit begins early. In the first weeks of the new year we decide the themes we’d like to explore in the exhibit, design the layout with the graphic designer, select which artefacts or objects will best illustrate our themes, and write the initial text for the interpretive panels.

   For me, exhibit writing has been the most challenging part of this process so far. In university I became accustomed to writing lengthy essays, often over twenty pages long. While this was challenging at times, I have come to learn in the last few weeks that it is even more challenging to discuss an entire topic in just two hundred words (or less)! There is often far more information than space to say everything you would like to say, so exhibit writing becomes a hard lesson in learning what can be left out and how to write the remainder very succinctly to make every word count!

   Despite its challenges, creating an exhibit is an exciting and creative part of being a curator! We look forward to sharing our hard work with you when this exhibit opens in May.

Winter Carnival (by Patricia West)

   We are super excited to open our outdoor village to you on February 17 for our brand new event, the Winter Carnival. We will have so many fun things happening that day. There will be a tug-of-war contest, a hood hustle (try it out - it’s a lot of fun), snowman building (if the weather is suitable), ice-skating, bowling, sledding and much more. We have the City of Steinbach to thank for their hard work creating our skating rink.

   Warm yourself in the Village Centre with hot chocolate, coffee or tea from our Hot Chocolate Bar, sponsored in part by Sweet Life Tea. There will also be a canteen on site to purchase lunch and snacks.

   It has been fun creating this new event for you, and we hope you will come out and enjoy the day with us on Saturday, February 17, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission to this event is free. 

Calendar of Events:

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

 

 

 

Image Caption: This wall clock was made by one of the clockmaking Kroegers in the 1910s. It was brought to Canada in 1924.

Village News

Robert G 2018 01 30

New Program Manager

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will be welcoming a number of new team members in 2018. This week we are pleased to introduce Robert Goertzen, who has joined us to take on the role of Program Manager. Robert is a lifelong resident of the Steinbach area and has been involved in various aspects of community life, including work, recreation and church. He has a bachelor’s degree in history, with particular interest in Mennonite history.

   As MHV’s Program Manager, Robert will oversee our Program Department, which includes three major focus areas:

   Our Volunteer Program is crucial to the health of our museum. Museums typically rely heavily on volunteer labour, and we are no exception. Robert will be responsible for the recruitment, supervision, training, and recognition of many of our volunteers. This is a critical role, given the significant number of volunteers we need to call on throughout the year and the amount of turnover our volunteer pool experiences.

   Our Education Program provides off-site learning opportunities for many students in Southern Manitoba. Each year we serve between 3,000 and 4,000 students, coming from our Southeast region, from Winnipeg, and sometimes from beyond. Although most of our student visitors descend on us in May and June, to take advantage of our outdoor village, Robert will be looking for ways to provide education programing throughout the year.

   MHV’s festivals are a large part of our service to our community. Each year we provide three major festivals: Canada Day (in partnership with the City of Steinbach), Pioneer Days (in partnership with the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce), and Fall on the Farm. These festivals help to bring our community together, develop tourism in the Southeast area, and generally make Steinbach a great place to live. Robert will be taking the lead in planning and delivering these festivals.

   While these three program areas are each separate “deliverables” in Robert’s job description, they are all focused on increasing MHV’s relevance in our community, enabling us to continue telling the stories of the Russian Mennonites, and engaging with an essential community of volunteers. We are pleased to have Robert on our team to lead this important part of MHV’s work.

Guys & Dolls Gala

   One of our new community events coming up in February is the Guys & Dolls Gala. Here’s what Patricia West, the event organizer, has to say about it:

   “We are having an exciting and rather intense start to the new year here at MHV. So many new ideas are coming forward which are turning into new opportunities for us, resulting in new events for you.

   “One such idea has evolved into our February 16 Guys & Dolls Gala for students in Grades 10–12. We are very excited to host this 1920’s-themed teen social. Come dressed in 1920’s attire (gangster/flapper style) or whatever you’re comfortable in. We aren’t picky! You’ll discover that the foyer of Mennonite Heritage Village has been transformed into a replica of a back alley. With lights off, the stars will guide your way along a brick-walled path from the entrance doors to the Auditorium.

   “Activities will be happening in both the Auditorium and the Multi-Purpose Room. Enter the Auditorium and dance the night away. Supreme Entertainment will be DJ-ing the event and will also be providing a photo booth. The photos will be printed so that you can take home memories of your night.

   “In the Multi-Purpose Room, you will find a Prohibition-style games/“smoking” room. (We would like to thank Retro Chique Antique Shop for allowing us to use items for décor.) Pull up a chair and play some poker, crokinole or other such board games. Maybe even grab a “cigar” (chocolate of course) and have a blast with your friends.

   “Head on up to the “bar” and sample some of our Prohibition-themed beverages (non-alcoholic) with a twist. Tip our lovely bartenders while you are there or, in tradition, ask their advice on anything you wish.

   “It is shaping up to be a great night. Many very excited teens have already rushed out to get their tickets for Friday, February 16, from 8 PM – 12 AM. Keep in mind, we have limited seating, so you may want to buy yours today. Tickets will be required to enter.”

Questions?  Call Patricia at 204-326-9661 or email at [email protected]

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors

Village News

Mennonite Historical Society of Canada

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is an institutional member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC). Society members gathered in Calgary January 18–20 for committee and board meetings, as well as the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Approximately 25 representatives from British Columbia to Quebec participated in these meetings.

   The objectives of the MHSC are “to carry out activities that aid in the preservation and interpretation of the history of the Mennonites in Canada, and to work together with other national and international organizations to aid in the preservation and interpretation of the history of Mennonites worldwide.” Examples of projects the society has either initiated or supported include: The initiation of the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), a rich online resource for Mennonite and Anabaptist history; the development and maintenance of the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID), an online database of historical images, available to researchers as well as the general public; and the granting of Awards of Excellence to individuals who have made exceptional contributions in the preservation and interpretation of Mennonite and Anabaptist history.

   MHSC’s membership includes provincial Mennonite historical societies, Mennonite church conferences, and other related institutions such as Mennonite Heritage Archives, Mennonite Heritage Village, and Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies. The annual membership gatherings give individual representatives the opportunity to develop relationships which facilitate networking beyond the meeting days.

   The Mennonite Archival Image Database is a relatively new initiative. The database itself is still being built, and users are still learning how to use it. The annual MHSC gathering provides opportunities for user training as well as further development of the system.

   This year’s MHSC Award of Excellence was given to Henry D. and Erna Goerzen from Alberta. Both were present to receive the award. They have been active in preserving archival materials for the Conference of Mennonites in Alberta. Their past contributions include the securing of a steel grain bin against moisture and rodents, then building shelves inside for the storage of archival material until a more suitable place was found. Henry also travelled in Alberta to document stories of conscientious objectors, some of which were later published in the book Alternative Service for Peace in Canada During World War II, 1941-1946.

   The MHSC Executive Committee elected at the recent meeting is almost identical to last year’s committee. Royden Loewen – Chair; Richard Thiessen – Vice Chair; Alf Redekopp – Secretary; Conrad Stoesz – Treasurer; and Barb Draper – Member-at-Large. We appreciate the time and talent these people bring to their roles in order to maintain a functioning society.

   The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada is now fifty years old and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at its next AGM, to be held in Winnipeg in November of this year. To help celebrate this milestone, the Center for Transnational Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg will collaborate with MHSC to stage a 50th anniversary conference around the theme A People of Diversity: Mennonites in Canada since 1970.

   The MHSC is a great example of how institutions of similar interests are able to support and encourage one another and also work together to accomplish things that no institution could do alone.

Calendar of Events

February 4, 7:00 PM - Vespers Service

February 16, 8:00 PM - Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, 10:00 AM - Winter Carnival

February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening With the Authors

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

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.

Login