2 I headed directly north from Minnesota to an area of Manitoba settled by refugees from the Black Sea region in the late nineteenth century. The topography reminds me of pictures of the steppes.
3 Steinbach was settled by Mennonites and others who earlier fled across northern Europe to Russia. Their welcome wore out in the 19th century and they went from there to the Great Plains.
4 The first winter or two in Manitoba was spent in a dug out called a Semlin. Whole families huddled in here for an entire Canadian winter!
5 An upgrade over the Semlin was the Russian style cottage in a farming village. This one was built in 1877 and was occupied until 1984.
6 During their sojourn in Prussia and Poland, the Mennonites often combined their houses with their barns. The tradition continued. This one was built in 1892.
7 From the inside, you could go into the pantry (right) or down the corridor on the left to the barn.
8 Many house-barns had thatched roofs over log structures. This one, dating to 1876, is being rethatched.
9 Most of the Mennonite families in this area were of Dutch origin. Since water control is also critical in the Baltic lowlands of Prussia, they were natural settlers. The tradition of windmills continued in Canada, both for pumping and milling.
10 The worship house recalls those in the Franconia conference of southeastern Pennsylvania. Perhaps they have a common origin in the Rhineland.
11 New Bergthal, Manitoba, is a Mennonite "street village," of which hundreds were founded between 1874 and 1900. Few are recognizable now. A single main street was lined by narrow lots with house-barns.
12 Each house-barn farm was associated with narrow fields surrounding the village. The pattern is well suited to harsh and threatening environments.
13 The reason I came to Steinbach was to explore the Mennonite Heritage Center's collection of decorated manuscripts. They are very similar to those done by the Pennsylvania Mennonites though there were only intermittant communication between the groups.