This page is a text version of the RM of Rhineland History Book. You can purchase a PDF copy of the book in our online store. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the purchased version. The purchased version also includes each image in the original book.

Page Index of the RM of Rhineland History Book

Previous - Page 146 or Next - Page 148

Ens of Rosthern and directed to the train that would take them west, Most travelled directly to Rosthern, but over a hundred decided to make Manitoba their home. Of this first group 30 disembarked at Steinbach, 66 at Winkler and 47 at Altona. More arrived during the months of August and September and continued to arrive until 1928. In 1924, 300 arrived in Altona alone." After 1926, however, few were allowed to leave by the Soviet Government and by 1928 the door had been com­ pletely closed. In 1927 only 847 arrived in Canada and in 1928 only 511 arrived. 42

This is the statistical story of the coming of the Russian Men­ nonites in the 1920's, but statistics do not explain the motivation of those who settled in the R.M. of Rhineland. One of the personal stories concern Wilhelm Goertzen and his father-in-law Rev. Jacob 1. Klassen. Wilhelm and Anna Goertzen had escaped Russia in the summer of 1921, eventually arriving in the village of Blumenort in 1922. Pleased with the land in southern Manitoba, Goertzen sent reports back to his father-in­ law that land around Blumenort was good for farming and that a large number of Reinlaender Mennonites were planning to emigrate to Mex­ ico. In the event of this emigration, a great deal of land would be available for purchase. On the basis of these reports, Rev. Jacob Klassen and his congregation decided to settle in the R.M. of Rhineland. Many had preferred Saskatchewan, but when Klassen decided in favor of Manitoba they opted to follow his lead and keep the group together. 43

On arriving at the various train depots in Rhineland, the immi­ grants were met by the local minister, friends, relatives and farmers looking for harvest help. After the official welcome and some singing and prayers, the immigrants were usually taken home by the various sponsoring families. The top priority of the new arrivals was to find work to pay for their Reiseschuld (travel debt). Many of the able-bodied Russlaender were billeted on farms where they assisted with the fall harvest. Some also found work in the towns of Gretna, Altona, Plum Coulee, Rosenfeld and Winkler, while others went to Saskatchewan to work on the railway. Teenage girls were also often sent to Winnipeg to work as domestic help and were expected to send most of their wages back to their parents in order to assist their families in repaying the Reiseschuld:"

Eventually, some Russlaender settled in Rhineland's towns, but most purchased the farms vacated by the departing Sommerfelder and Reinlaender Mennonites. A final count showed that 191 families had settled in the villages of Blumenfeld , Blumenort, Chortitz, Gnadenthal, Gnadenfeld, Hochfeld, Osterwick, Reinland, Rosenort, Rosengart and Schoenwiese." The settlement of these families did much to save many

133