Mennonite Heritage Village

Food Stories

Village News (June 14, 2018)

By Barry Dyck


Food Stories

We aren’t often invited to enter a food truck, tell stories and prepare one of our favourite old recipes. Normally we purchase food from the proprietor of such a venue. But our community will soon have a unique opportunity to spend time on the other side of the window.

From June 17 to July 7, Dr. Janis Thiessen and Sarah Story will be conducting research in the north parking lot of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).

According to the University of Winnipeg’s NewsCentre, “Dr. Janis Thiessen is hitting the road to ask Manitobans in the Steinbach area to share their food histories and family recipes and she’s inviting people to register now to participate. Thiessen, Associate Professor (History) and Associate Director of the Oral History Centre at The University of Winnipeg, is rolling into town in her newly branded and outfitted Manitoba Food History Truck, which will be parked at the Mennonite Heritage Village (231 Highway 12 North, Steinbach) from Sunday, June 17 to Saturday, July 7, 2018.

“Manitobans will be invited to hop on board the truck to cook a dish that is meaningful to them, while research team members interview them about their lives. Research team members and students will use this innovative approach to conduct oral histories on Manitoba food history, which will be shared with the public via a podcast series, pop-up exhibits and events, a website of digital stories and maps, and a food truck cookbook.

“The goal of the Manitoba Food History Project is to produce a comprehensive history of food manufacturing, production, retailing, and consumption in the province of Manitoba from 1870 to the present day. The two driving questions behind the research are: ‘How has food been produced, sold, and consumed in Manitoba?’ and ‘How has this changed over time?’”

The University of Winnipeg reports that this truck will also make stops in Winnipeg and the Parkland region over the next several years.

“The Manitoba Food History Truck (owned and operated in partnership with Diversity Foods) will travel to these three regions of Manitoba so that the project team –– including food history students and research assistants –– can conduct life-story interviews with Manitobans while they cook local, historical, meaningful recipes aboard the truck. These oral histories will help to inform people’s understanding of the business, labour, ethnic, Indigenous, and local histories within the province of Manitoba.

“Throughout the project, research team members will be working toward producing a variety of research outcomes that will provide opportunities for students, meaningful contributions to scholarly research in food history, and engaging and accessible representations of Manitoba’s food history. This will include a collection of oral history sources (to be archived at the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg), experiential learning courses in business history & food history at The University of Winnipeg, digital stories and vignettes of Manitoba food history, pop-up exhibits and public events, a podcast series on Manitoba food history, and a Manitoba Food History Truck cookbook.”

When MHV was approached about the concept of hosting a food truck on our campus, our first questions were “Will they be making the kind of food we make in our Livery Barn Restaurant?” and “Will they be selling food in competition with our restaurant?” They quickly assured us that they will not be producing any food for sale. It’s all research.

Food is such a significant part of Russian Mennonite culture, as it is for many cultures. MHV is pleased to support Dr. Thiessen’s research initiative, and we invite the community to participate as well. Interested participants should sign up here or visit the project’s website at

Calendar of Events

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM – Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

June 17-July 7 – Manitoba Food History Project

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)