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Chapter V

The World We Have Lost:

Rhineland 1914-19291

The period from the beginning of the First World War until the conclusion of the 1920's saw the end of a way of life in the R.M. of Rhineland. Theocratic Mennonite village life, with its open field econ­ omy, had been in retreat since the late 19th century, but developments after 1914 spelt its end. Nationalism, war, and technological change would alter the very face of Rhineland society. Even Rhineland's boundaries, encompassing most of the Mennonite settlements in the area, were altered with the western half of the former West Reserve transferred to the R.M. of Stanley in 1916.

World War I did not, in most cases, directly affect the lives of Rhineland's residents, but it did indirectly change many things. English Canadian nationalism, evident before the war, became even more in­ tense after the war broke out and led to changes in Manitoba's school laws. This new legislation wiped out many Mennonite school privileges causing large numbers of Mennonites to emigrate to Mexico and Para­ guay. With them went the last vestiges of the open field economy, organized village government and the Mennonite private school sys­ tem. Most of the Mennonites who remained chose to accommodate to the modem Canadian society.

The War also had other indirect effects on the R.M. of Rhineland.

In Russia, war and revolution ended another way of life for Mennonites there and many of these refugees found their way to Rhineland in the 1920's. While these immigrants represented some continuity with the world that was lost, their settlement in Rhineland never restored this world.

There was one other development in this period which speeded the

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