Mennonite Heritage Village

An Ode to Back Roads

July 21, 2022

By Gary Dyck

It was 6:30pm on a warm July day when we took our bicycles off the rack. We knew it was a late start, but we felt we had plenty of time to complete the 50-kilometre Manitoba Peace Trail. Starting at the Mennonite Landing Site, where the Rat River meets the Red River, we knew that whatever trials, or adventures, awaited us would not compare to what our ancestors faced in their journey to our starting point – the site where, nearly 150 years ago, the Mennonites travelled across Russia, continental Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and more, to build a new village.  

As we headed east towards Steinbach and the dozen villages in between, we found ourselves in a sea of green spread out below us, and a sky of blue dotted with white fluffy mountains were above us. Andrew Penner, who lived on the other side of the prairies, described this kind of trip well in the July 16th Calgary Herald:  

“True, when you’re burning rubber on the backroads – something I’m kinda fond of – it’s not always an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat adventure. But it’s not really supposed to be either. Cruising down the gravel roads – through one-bar towns, past ancient elevator rows and buckled barns, beside blazing canola fields, and below brilliant baby-blue skies spattered with cotton-ball clouds – is supposed to be a reflective, cerebral thing. You know, a meditation on the gilded glory of the Great Plains. Of course, when you throw in a few booze-fueled neighbours and some thunderheads-gone-wild, well, a little adrenaline rush could also be in the cards. And I know this: I’m not alone in my appreciation for the backroads of Alberta. During these trying days, it seems more and more people are drawn to quieter places.”

Andrew Penner, Calgary Herald

The back roads of the prairies are amazing places for wonder, nature, busy working, and providing that expansive-freedom-peaceful-feeling.  

Cycling the peace trail
Testing out the Peace Trail from Niverville to Steinbach.

This August 20th Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Eden Foundation will be co-hosting the first annual Peace Trek fundraiser using the historic Peace Trail. Sign-up on our website today! We also need help with developing the Peace Trail. This Saturday (July 23) MHV and others will be working on the portion of this trail that runs from Keating Road along the Blind Creek that comes up to the south of Ledingham GM. You are welcome to join us at the grassy parking lot on the south side of the creek off Highway 12 at 9:00am. We plan to have a professional syctheman with a couple scythes to train others. It should be a memorable experience. If you are interested in helping with the Peace Trail or Peace Trek, contact me at: or 204-326-9661. 

My first attempt riding the proposed Peace Trail was an adventure. We were not able to complete it before dark, but it did provide beautiful sunset pictures and visits with locals along the way. See the fun video on MHV’s Events page for the Peace Trek. Hope you can join me on August 20th!    

Upcoming Events:

MHV’s grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant are open seven days a week. The restaurant is open 11 am to 4 pm, and the grounds are open 9 am to 5 pm. Thursdays we are open 9 am to 8 pm. Sunday we are open 11:30 am to 5 pm.

Leaving Canada Speaker Series: July 26, 7:00PM “Putting Down Roots in Mexico,” by Kevin Dyck, Curator at Museo Menonita in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico. Free event, click to register here.

Pioneer Days: July 30 to August 1 Our biggest festival of the year will take place Saturday through Monday of the August long weekend. Relive the experience of the early Manitoba Mennonites during our annual Pioneer Days festival! Enjoy traditional Mennonite food, activities for kids, live demonstrations, music, guided tours, and more! 

August 20 – Peace Trek 2022: Together with the Eden Foundation, Mennonite Heritage Village is proud to be hosting our first annual cyclathon and marathon! Choose to bike, run, or participate in a relay on the Peace Trail; a newly established route that passes waypoints of history and nature in south-east Manitoba that you won’t want to miss.