Mennonite Heritage Village

Stony Brook?

Village News (December 7, 2017)

By Glen Klassen, Board Member


Stony Brook?

Steinbach grew up along a brook, but was it stony?
Answer: The streams that drain the RM of Hanover into the Manning Canal and then into the Red River are cut into a thick layer of Lake Agassiz clay, so these could hardly be considered “stony.” The closest watercourse that actually has enough stones to form rapids is the Roseau River near the US border.
Why then did the settlers arriving here call it Stein (stone) Bach (brook)?
Answer: Because the name was imported from Ukraine. About half of the first settlers in Steinbach, Manitoba, came from Steinbach, Ukraine (then Imperial Russia). This was a farming village along the northwest bank of the Bazavluk River, about 60 km northwest of Nikopol. That river has stony banks; ergo, Steinbach. That community was populated by the Kleine Gemeinde sect of Mennonites. All of them packed up in 1874-1875 and went to North America, leaving their homes and farms to other Mennonite farmers. Those unfortunate people were later massacred in 1919 by roving bandits during the chaos of revolutionary Russia. That village site is now deserted, marked only by a long hedge-row of trees that used to line the main street of Steinbach and a few prehistoric burial mounds (kurgans). But there is now a Ukrainian town across the river called Myronivka, if you want to look it up on Google Earth. It’s at latitude 47.79299 and longitude 34.05931.
Of course the name “Steinbach” popped up in many other places as well. There were at least five other Steinbachs in Russia, and there is a fairly large city in Germany by that name. According to Bill Schroeder’s atlas, there are also Steinbach villages in Argentina (Remeco Colony), Mexico (Riva Palacios and Manitoba Colonies), and Paraguay (Sommerfeld Colony). All of these hark back to places in Russia where there actually were Steine and Baeche.

Our Steinbach area here is well watered. Besides the creeks and sub-creeks (is that a word?) that interlace the city, there is abundant water in a pressure system of limestone 100 feet down. In addition, there are numerous freshwater springs north of the city. The one I know best is right on the southern edge of the Steinbach lagoon, just steps from where we lived when I was a kid.

All of the creeks around Steinbach feed into the Manning Canal about three miles north of Randolph, and from there the water flows into the Seine River Diversion at Île-des-Chȇnes and thus to the Red River. Steinbach has always been well drained, except for that flash flood in 2014. And now, thanks to the canal, our excess water does not flood our friends living in the former wetlands around New Bothwell and Landmark.

Steinbach actually has at least three creeks running through it. Two of them are relatively unchanged: the Giesbrecht drain on the west, and the creek running through the museum grounds and the golf course to the northeast. But the central one, which runs along Elmdale, has been greatly remodeled. It is now channeled past the T. G. Smith Arena between pretend rocks that are actually quite attractive and functional. So now it’s finally a “stony creek!”

Calendar of Events

December 11, 7:00 PM – A Gardener’s Christmas (meeting of the Steinbach and Area Garden Club)

December 23 – January 7, closed for Christmas

February 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service

February 16, Guys & Dolls Gala

February 17, Winter Carnival