by Gary Dyck
Maps have many purposes. Here’s one you may have not thought of, as shared by Czech poet Miroslav Holub:
“The young lieutenant of a small Hungarian detachment in the Alps sent a reconnaissance unit out onto the icy wasteland.
It began to snow immediately,
snowed for two days and the unit did not return.
The lieutenant suffered:
he had dispatched
his own people to death.
But the third day the unit came back.
Where had they been? How had they made their way?
Yes, they said, we considered ourselves
lost and waited for the end. And then one of us
found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down.
We pitched camp, lasted out the snowstorm and then with the map
we discovered our bearings.
And here we are.
The lieutenant borrowed this remarkable mapMiroslav Holub
and had a good look at it. It was not a map of the Alps
but of the Pyrenees”
Recently the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) hosted a unique event with the EastMenn Historical Society on recently discovered Tsarist maps of 19th century Mennonite settlements in Ukraine. Brent Wiebe, who excels in digitizing Mennonite history, gave the lucky guests a cartographic presentation including his own animations and maps from Russian State Military History Archives. We saw many Mennonite villages had sheep farms and wood preserves. Looking at these original documents our imaginations began to hum with how life was in this world of small roads interlaced with interdependent village after interdependent village. Guests also saw that what was labelled a windmill on a Mennonite German map, was labelled as a distillery on the official Russian map. Brent asked us, ‘which one is right’?
Besides the calm that maps provide those lost in a snowstorm, they also give a definite sense of place and being. After all, the first item we look for on a map is the ‘You Are Here’ marker. When we know where we are, we have confidence and freedom to go forth. At MHV our purpose is to provide such a map for the generations to come.
Here is where you come from. Where are you? Now go forth!
Check out Brent Wiebe’s presentation and more on our MHV YouTube channel.
MHV gift shop and galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. MHV galleries are a great place to learn Mennonite history. The gift shop also has excellent books on Mennonite history and even an Atlas of Mennonite settlements and history in Manitoba. The perfect gift for the budding historian.
MHV Christmas Market, Saturday, November 13, 10am – 4pm. Get your Christmas shopping done at our annual Christmas Market. Browse through our many vendors and find that unique gift. Admission is a tin for the bin in support of Steinbach Community Christmas. Hot lunch will be available from 11:30am – 2pm. Sleigh rides will be available from 10:30am – 3:30pm.