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Jacob Schwartz lumberyard in Altona - 1920's. The small white building is the Sommerfelder Waisenamt ottrce.

Credit: D. K. Friesen

the co-operative ideology espoused by institutions like the Rhineland Agricultural Society and leaders such as 1. 1. Siemens. Mennonites did not naturally accept the co-operative principle, but had to be persuaded that it was a solution to their social and economic problems.'

The new socio-economic institutions which began emerging in Rhineland in the 1930's were neither religious nor individualistic, but based on a secular ethic of co-operation in business and community life. This co-operative action not only began to redefine the relationships between farmers in the municipality, but also the relationship between the towns and the countryside. When farmers and town residents began to perceive their interests as interdependent and as they began to participate in co-operative ventures, the Mennonite dichotomy of vil­ lage and farm versus the town began to break down.

Drought and Depression

All parts of Canada experienced hard times during the 1930's, but particularly hard hit were the prairies. The prairie economy, based as it was on agriculture, was especially vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and export markets. With the collapse of the stock market in 1929, foreign markets for Canadian foodstuffs collapsed, and prices for all agricultural products dropped rapidly. Wheat that had sold for $1.06 a bushel in 1929 sold for only 38 cents in 1932.2 Farmers in Rhineland,