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The Brumtopp was usually an old rainbarrel or keg, with horse hairs extending from its cowhide bottom. (Somewhat similar to a washtub bass.) The mummers, dressed in costumes, would rub the horse hairs producing low bass tones and sometimes accompany this with singing. This theatre was kept up until they were invited in for refreshment. 90 This type of behavior, however, was not accepted in the Old Colony villages. In the winter of 1900 to 1901 one Old Colony village decided to have a Santa Claus for Christmas, and made arrange­ ments to have some Brumtopp mummers visit the village on New Year's Eve. When these events became known to the Reinlaender Church officials, Bishop Johann Wiebe immediately travelled to the village and lectured the errant village leaders on what was and what was not acceptable behavior for a Church member."

The New Century

As the 19th century drew to a close the inhabitants of Rhineland were undergoing a significant transition. Not only were many of the original pioneers retiring from farming and turning over their pros­ perous farms to their sons and daughters but many were also trying to re­ establish contacts with lost relatives in Russia and the United States. The two main newspapers of the area, Rundschau and Nordwesten, were full of inquiries about family members in Russia and the United States. Some were even going back to Russia for a visit.

Economic growth and prosperity had also led to the rise of a number of trading centers in the area, going a long way to introduce the Mennonites to Canadian society. While village breakup and accom­ modation to Canadian society was still being successfully resisted by the Reinlaender Mennonite Church villages, many Mennonites were only too willing to establish district schools, move onto their home­ steads and enter politics.

Land shortages and high prices on the other hand led to a signifi­ cant migration from Rhineland which continued well into the 20th century. All these changes and more would affect the municipality in the next decades.

FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER III l. Minutes of the R.M. of Rhineland, March 3, 1885.

2. Adolf Ens, "Mennonite Relations with Governments: Western Canada 1870-1925", (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Ottawa, 1978), page 132.

  1. Rundschau, Feb. 5,1886.
  2. Ibid., Dec. 1, 1885.