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.
9.2: Villages in the West Mennonite Reserve
This very flat area is part of the
Section lines and quarter section lines of the DLS are clearly visible. In this intensively farmed area most fields are divided into narrow north/south 12 or east/west 13 trending strips. Field shelterbelts planted mainly to protect against wind erosion trend east/west 14 or north/south 15.
PTH 32 9 is the main highway, and the faint light-toned line in the northeast 16 is a buried oil pipeline. As with figure 9.1there is no railway line in this area.
Figure 9.2: Villages in the West Mennonite Reserve
Vertical air photograph: A21176-29
Flight height: 18,360 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.63 mm
Scale: 1:35,800 (approx.)
Date: August 6, 1969
Location: Townships 1 and 2; Range 4 WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H
1:50,000 62H/4 Altona
[i] The name of Friedensfield was officially changed to Friedensfeld West in 1976 to avoid confusion with another Friedensfield located south of Steinbach. Holm, G. ed. Geographical Names of