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period was the beginning of long terms in office for individual reeves. Previous to this no reeve had held office for more than five years. Beginning with the election of H. 1. Friesen as reeve in 1908, however, long terms in office became the norm. Between 1908 and 1983 only 11 men have served as reeve.

One of the reasons for this in the period before 1930 was the almost block voting of the Sommerfeld Mennonites. Meetings were often held in the various Sommerfelder Churches to survey Church membership as to which candidate should be supported in the election. 15 This practice often resulted in an overlapping of municipal and Sommerfeld village and church leadership. This represented one of the adaptive strategies of the Sommerfelder Mennonites in dealing with municipal government. It is interesting to note that H. 1. Friesen (reeve for 8 years, 1908-1916) and P. A. Toews (reeve for 10 years, 1920-1929) both later became Sommerfelder Bishops.

Agriculture and Village Breakup

The years of farm prosperity in the 1890's continued for a number of years in the early 20th century, but by 1914 agriculture was in decline. The year 1902 was the last bumper crop of the decade in Rhineland, producing wheat fields of 30 bushels to the acre. 16 Farm labour flocked to the municipality that fall and farmers influenced by these returns bought new threshing machines and built new homes. 17

Altona Machinery Co. Ltd. -1905. This picture features Advance Machines.

Credit: D. K. Friesen