Mennonite Heritage Village

New Acquisition Sheds Light on History of Education in Steinbach Part Two

by Andrea Klassen, Senior Curator

ED note: Last week Andrea wrote about G. G. Kornelson one of Steinbach’s first teachers who taught for over thirty years and then ‘retired’ and became a Watkins seller in South-East Manitoba. Feature photo: G. G. Kornelsen’s bicycle, ca. 1947, from his days as a Watkins dealer. Here is part two…

A photo from archives of The Carillon (exact date of publication is unknown, although it was likely published within the last thirty years), brings these two disparate pieces of Kornelsen’s career together and explains the importance of G. G. Kornelsen’s bicycle in MHV’s collection. The photo shows Kornelsen sitting on the seat of a shiny new bicycle, complete with a basket hanging on the front and a bright light (powered by the friction of the front tire) mounted on the handle bars and a leather tool kit attached to the leather seat, with a crowd of people looking on in the background.

The story goes that in 1947, long after Kornelsen’s teaching career had ended, a former student saw Kornelsen eyeing a new Rudge Whitworth bicycle and comparing it to his own eighteen-year-old bike. Kornelsen had been a well-liked teacher in the community and so the former student rallied his peers (also Kornelsen’s former students) and within a few hours, they had enough money to purchase the new bicycle for their former teacher. Kornelsen used the new bike to make his rounds as a Watkins dealer. Along with the bicycle, the David G. Falk donation also included a Watkins kit outfitted for a bicycle, filled with Watkins products.

According to Gordon Falk, the bicycle stayed in the Kornelsen family until it was given by Bill Kornelsen (G. G. Kornelsen’s son) to David G. Falk in the 1980s. It was on display at Broken Wheel Antiques until it closed in 2010 and last week became one of the newest artefacts in MHV’s collection.

ED note: This story is a great inspiration of ‘crowd-funding’ before there was even such a phrase. Please check out our Dirk Willems Peace Garden on now! Friday, November 6th is the deadline for all online pledges and gifts to be rewarded. Also, we plan to host an online Premier event on Peace Sunday (November 8). See our website for the latest details.

Calendar of Events

Galleries and Village Books & Gifts are open year-round.

Now until April 1, 2021: “MCC 100 Years” exhibit

November 8, 4 p.m.: Peace Sunday Online with Wilma Derksen. This will now be an online event. More details on our website.