By Barry Dyck
On Saturday, July 1, Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will host our annual Canada Day festival in collaboration with the City of Steinbach. The unique part of this year’s national celebration is the special emphasis on Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation. At MHV, we will be highlighting three unique projects related to that theme.
Our guests will have the opportunity to view the Waldheim House roof-thatching project and talk with Colin McGhee, the master thatcher. They will also be the first guests to see our Canada 150 exhibit, Storied Places, in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. It is also timely that Steinbach’s Canada 150 mural, painted by many community individuals several months ago, will be on view during our festivities.
Our Waldheim House roof-thatching project has been very special for us, partly because it required so much time and work to bring to reality. The dream for this project actually began about ten years ago. More recently, in 2015, our Member of Parliament, Ted Falk, announced that MHV would receive a $100,000 grant under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, for the renovation of the Waldheim House. Additional funds toward this project were provided by the Steinbach Credit Union, the Thomas Sill Foundation and the Rural Municipality of Hanover. Finding craftspeople with the skills to refurbish an old log structure and install a thatched roof took considerable time and effort. Refurbishing work on the structure finally began in the fall of 2016, and the entire project will be completed this summer.
This project is also significant because such an undertaking is so rare in our part of the world. We hope many guests will visit us on July 1 and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the installation of a thatched roof.
Canada is a special place for all of us. Some of us view it as a long-standing home. Others may view it as a place of refuge, having recently come from other countries. Our MHV theme for 2017, Storied Places, invites everyone to think about a place that has been significant in their lives - be it a farmyard, lake, school, or almost any other place - and consider what specific impact that place has had on their lives. On July 1, our new Storied Places exhibit will be opening in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to submit their own stories about places that are especially meaningful to them.
Earlier this year, in preparation for the Canada 150 celebrations, 150 communities across Canada – including the City of Steinbach - were invited to produce a mural relevant to their community. When Steinbach’s citizens were asked to select a symbol for our city to be incorporated into the mural, the majority of those responding requested that the symbol be our MHV windmill. People of all ages volunteered to paint their own unique tile, later combined artistically with all the other tiles to create one large mosaic. This beautiful mural will eventually arrive at its permanent home on the Jake Epp Library building, but it is currently residing at MHV and will be available for our guests to view on Canada Day.
Our Canada 150 festivities will include a flag-raising ceremony, with speeches by our political leaders and birthday cake. The day will also feature interpreters in many of our museum buildings, horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, entertainment in our new pavilion and lots of good food. At 6:00, activities will wrap up at MHV and resume at the soccer park at 8:00. The evening activities will include music, cupcakes and fireworks.
There will be no admission charges at the museum or the soccer park. What a great opportunity for our community to get out and celebrate the 150th anniversary of our country’s confederation.
Calendar of Events
July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery
July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations
July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7
August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily
August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10
August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks