Chapter 9: Mennonite and Hutterite Settlements
“The Mennonites refused to bear arms and…fled from one country to another in the
“In sharp contrast to homesteaders from
They were not…able to ignore the survey system entirely but they were able initially to modify the rectangular grid to satisfy their own requirements. And from 1876 onwards they did so legally, since in that year the government amended the Dominion Lands Act to allow both Icelanders and Mennonites to settle in villages, relieving them of the normal legislative requirement that every homesteader live in a house on his own quarter section and improve the land grant he himself had received from the Crown.”[ii]
“Each homesteader signed the village’s agreement to share the land, even though the official title for each quarter section belonged to an individual. A village was established in which each settler was allocated a narrow plot of land running back from the main village street. The plot was to provide space for a house, barns, and a garden, and overnight space for cattle. The remainder of the homestead land belonging to villagers was divided into three equal parcels plus a slightly larger one for pasturage.
Each villager was given a strip of land in each of the three fields for his personal use, so that all the land in each field was allocated. This not only preserved the old village pattern of land use but also helped assure equal land quality for all settlers. In the early years, neither pasture nor fields were fenced. …Some of the villages began to disintegrate almost at once, and the majority of them disappeared”[iii] but in 1995, 17 were still in existence in the west reserve. Also the field system soon broke down and “the last of the old field systems was abandoned in the nineteen twenties.”[iv]
Because of the land division system the remaining villages have a very definite linear form that contrasts markedly with the T-type railway-based villages and the angular grid of villages based on the DLS system.
[i] Tyman, J. and D. Where on Earth: Mid Latitude Grasslands (Library Edition). Brisbane, Atham Educational, 1978, 18.
[ii] Tyman, J. and D. op. cit., 1978, 18 and 35.
[iii] See Richtik, J. T. “Mennonite Reserves” in The Geography of
[iv] Richtik op. cit., 1996, 105-106.
9.1: Villages in the West Mennonite Reserve
The photo shows all or part of nine Mennonite villages in the west reserve: Gnadenthal 1, Neuenberg 2, Hochfeld 3, Friedensfeld 4, Blumenfeld 5, Reinland 6, Schoenwiese 7, Rosengart 8, and Haskett 9. The villages have been superimposed on the square grid pattern of the DLS. In the case of Neuenberg and the eastern part of Reinland 10, the village road runs along a section line, and in most other cases the village streets harmonize with the DLS system in that they run north/south or east/west. However, the streets do not coincide with section or quarter section lines, and in the case of Gnadenthal and the western part of Reinland 11, the street is at an angle to the DLS lines. Houses within the villages are closely spaced along the streets resulting in linear villages. The narrow fields running back from the houses in the old field system have been mainly obliterated by field amalgamation, but remnants can be seen in the western part of Reinland 12. It is noticeable that the scattered farmsteads—two, three, or four per section—so common in other parts of agricultural Manitoba are largely absent here, although a few examples do exist 13, possibly owned by farmers who moved out from the villages years after they were established.
The land shown here is part of the
The southern part of the photo lies within the
Transport routes include north/south PTH 32 23 and east/west PR 201 24, as well as several gravel roads along section lines. The faint light-toned line in the northeast is a buried oil pipeline 25. The absence of railway lines is noticeable, in contrast to other rural areas in
Figure 9.1: Villages in the West Mennonite Reserve
Vertical air photograph: MB90019-44
Flight height: 31,000 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 153.211 mm
Scale: 1:57,600 (approx.)
Date: May 14, 1990
Location: Townships 1 and 2; Ranges 3 and 4 WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H
1:50,000 62H/4 Altona