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passage of the traditional way of life in Rhineland. This was the technological transformation within rural Canada. The automobile and telephone brought the outside world to the farmer's doorstep, while mechanization and agricultural education began to change the farmer's attitude toward farming. All pointed towards a new way of life in Rhineland.
The Effects of War
The outbreak of World War I, in August of 1914, was regarded quite differently by the various groups in Rhineland. The English Canadians, residing mainly in Gretna and Plum Coulee, reacted with the patriotic fervor of most other English Canadians, wholeheartedly supporting the war effort as a prime opportunity to defend the British Empire. Mennonites, on the other hand, reacted with dismay that civilized nations would resort to bloodshed. 2 Their strong commitment to pacifism, moreover, made them resist active participation in the war effort. This divergent reaction caused some friction in Gretna and Plum Coulee, but no serious incident resulted, due in part to the overwhelm ing preponderance of Mennonites in the municipality. 3
While the Mennonites were dismayed at the outbreak of war, they did little in the way of voicing their objection to the war. They were far
, more concerned with maintaining their exemption from military service and keeping their young people from voluntarily joining the military service. As early as 1916 the Bergthaler Church served notice that any member who volunteered for active service was automatically excom municated."
The first threat to the Mennonites' military exemption came in late 1916, with the announcement that a national service registration would take place in 1917 to make an inventory of available manpower in Canada. Under this program all males 16-65 years of age were asked to fill out registry cards. Fearing that this was the beginning of con scription, a delegation of Mennonite leaders travelled to Ottawa to investigate the matter.
These delegates, including Abraham Doerksen of the Sommer felder Church and Benjamin Ewert of the Bergthaler Church, were assured that their exemption from military service would be fully respected, but the cards had to be filled out. The Reinlaender opposing any form of registration sent no delegate. Reassured by these promises, the Mennonite group represented by this delegation, co-operated with registration. It is interesting to note that the Reinlaender Church, refusing to either register their men or provide the government with a list of males 16-65, was not forced to comply.'