Mennonite Heritage Village


Village News (May 2, 2019)

By Gary Dyck



Earth-shattering, mind-altering, life-changing events don’t happen every day. However, for myself, they do happen on a smaller scale every time I spend a concentrated amount of time at the Mennonite Heritage Village with an artefact and its story. It happens again when I stand on the grounds while data is downloaded into my brain from reading a panel, a tour guide or from my eye making a connection with something I have heard before. For example, the other day it was pointed out that the north side of our village street with its house-barns is how it would have looked in the late 1800’s; while the south side with its store, printery and blacksmith is how it would have looked in the 1920’s. Now I see it. Now it is obvious – but it did not exist in my eye or mind before. Steinbach and many Mennonite communities in Canada and Russia started out as a street of house-barns.

Notice how we have two churches and two schools and yet none of them are in the centre of the village? When I asked a Ukrainian church historian how their villages were set up in Manitoba I found out that they did not line up their homes and farms like my grandparents did, but would sometimes have four homes close together, each on the corner of their quarter-section of land closest to the other. Then when they had the means they would build a church and then a community would be formed around it. Mennonites, however, usually formed their community first and then added the church and the school on the edge. Could it be it was community first, church and education second? By church I don’t mean their faith, but the institute of church. Now that I see it, now it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder if we need to figure out how to be community again. Today we have more streets than ever and yet so little connection with each other. Let’s not lose this value of community.

The scientific term for these ‘aha moments’ is called paradigm shifts. You had a paradigm, a worldview, that served you well, but then new information, a new experience came and moved that subject into a different light. There can be a fundamental change in your thinking or even a subconscious assumption you had.

Those ‘whoa moments’ are one of my favourite things in life. First, the feeling of it is a cool sensation. Second, it often helps me to appreciate something more or a new way. It widens the context from which I see and empowers me to handle more, to do more, in the world.

Museums are one of the best places to go to have such a change. ‘Museum as opportunity for paradigm shifts.’ I walk into museums with abated breath, my mind open and my heart singing ‘hit me with what you have’. At Mennonite Heritage Village we have built it, and you have come. Now come again and look for more, seek those paradigm shifts, and – they – will – come.

Calendar of Events

May 1, Village Grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant open for the season

May 2, Low German Primer starts (a course for beginners) – 7pm (sign-up now!)

May 11, Manitoba Day celebrations

May 25, Russländer Tribute Fundraiser Banquet – 4pm