Mennonite Heritage Village

Running to the Neighbours

June 9, 2022 

By Gary Dyck 

This week I had a fascinating discussion with my parents (who were born in the early 1930s) about their experiences with neighbours. At the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we love recreating the village experience of old when neighbours were     helpers. Although one person grew up in Saskatchewan and the other person in Manitoba, both their families would run to their neighbour’s house when a thunderstorm was coming. ‘Why would you go out into a thunderstorm when you were already home?’, I asked with incredulity. ‘To feel safe’, was their response.  

Instantly, I had this striking image of my near-six-foot Mennonite grandmother in her long black dress grabbing the hands of as many kids she could at the time (12 in total) and with heads down, taking large strides with them to the neighbour’s farm across the road as lightning flash around them. I guess safety comes from sharing danger as a community. 

The stories of my parents running to neighbours as kids continued for a while. My father told of one time in late April where he only had time to put on one shoe as he and his siblings ran to the neighbours again. There was no thunder, but they were on the move again. The next day they returned home, and he found he now had twin sisters! When you are in a family of 12, you don’t always know what is going on, but there definitely was safety in numbers for those families.      

I would love to hear your stories about how you or your parents were helped by their neighbours. Maybe you have another idea why they would run to the neighbours during a thunderstorm. Please join our social media and share! You can find us on Facebook as “Mennonite Heritage Village Museum”, or on Instagram and Twitter @mhvillage.  

Our Spring Gala was a success! Over $20,000 was raised for our Chortitz Housebarn and our new exhibit, Leaving Canada: The Mennonite Migration to Mexico,     is now open to the public. In the near future, we will also post a highlight video of the gala as it included some special music dealing with the theme     of ‘leaving’. A big thank you to our sponsors HyLife, Sunshine Nurseries, and Home Wine & Brew. 

Do you want to learn more about the topics surrounding our current exhibit, Leaving Canada: The Mennonite Migration to Mexico? If so, MHV and the Plett Foundation have partnered with the University of Winnipeg to present a speaker series surrounding topics that are relevant, not only for those who left in the Mennonite migration but also for us today. These events are a combination of in-person and virtual attendance. Official times will be announced shortly on our website. 

May you always have good neighbours. As American writer Elbert Hubbard said, “Man’s greatest blunder has been in trying to make peace with the skies instead of making peace with his neighbours.” 

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.

Tractor Trek, June 11 Join us for a day of stories, food, and trekking with tractors! Register today using the form on our website or pick one up at our reception. All proceeds for this fundraiser support both the Eden Foundation and the Mennonite Heritage Village.  

Summer in the City, Friday, June 17 to Sunday June 19. Enjoy fresh homemade waffles at the MHV booth on Steinbach’s Main Street.  

Father’s Day Lunch Buffet, Sunday, June 19. Take dad out for a Mennonite feast at our Livery Barn Restaurant. Better yet, pay for admission and make it a full day with a stroll on our grounds, checking out our classic machinery, and visiting our farmyard animals.