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the government entered the picture. In that year the Manitoba Legisla ture passed an act that not only reflected the growing dissolution of Mennonite villages, but aided their disintegration.
This act dealt with Mennonite Village Agreements and stated that all village agreements could be cancelled at any time on the agreement of two-thirds of the parties that had entered into the agreement. It also stipulated that proceedings in mortgage suits or sales need only be served on three persons, rather than all members. This facilitated the process of foreclosure and the sale of village lands and hence the breakup of these villages. 24
By 1912 the open field economy of almost all Bergthal villages had been discontinued, though many farmers continued to live on their resurveyed village lots." For many the social advantages of living in these villages still outweighed the economic advantages of moving to their quarter sections. Only in the Old Colony villages in the western end of Rhineland was the open field system retained.
While the outside world had been making incursions into rural life, village life was still a world apart from town life. Commercial grain farming inevitably linked the farmer to the outside world, but this extended little further than the elevator and stores. Little social com munication existed between town and village and individuals who grew up in villages or on farms during this period, still remember feeling out of place when in town." Farmers were willing to buy the latest agricul tural equipment, but balked at accepting new cultural practices. Closer ties between rural and urban centers would have to await the beginning of the co-operative movement in the 1930's.
The rapid growth of towns in Rhineland before 1900, slowed in the early decades of the 20th century as the agricultural economy began to falter.
Fig. 18 Population of Towns 1901~1914
1906 224 707 85 498
1911 261 519
1914 400 575
Altona Gretna Rosenfeld Plum Coulee
Source: Assessment Rolls, Census of Canada, Municipal Census.
Although Gretna remained the social center of the municipality until World War I, it began to decline in importance after 1900. It