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Chapter 1

Manitoba, Mennonites and the Metis

In the early summer of 1875 Jacob Y. Schantz, accompanied by his brother Abraham and three earlier Mennonite immigrants, set out to explore the land west of the Red River in hopes of locating land for a new Mennonite Reserve. Guided by a Metis driver and Metis surveyor they travelled thirty miles west of the Red River in the first three townships. Here, on the United States border between Emerson and the Pembina Hills, they found what they were looking for - fine prairie land with few settlers on it. I

The need for a new Reserve had been made necessary when the


good land in the original Mennonite Reserve east of the Red River had

been occupied by the Mennonite immigrants of 1874. Prospects of increased Mennonite immigration 'from Russia in the summer of 1875 made a new settlement imperative. Fortunately, the list of privileges granted to the Mennonites by the Canadian Government in 1873, contained a number of clauses providing for the reservation of addi­ tionalland should it be required. 2

By the fall of 1875 close to 300 Mennonite families had settled in 18 villages in this partially surveyed area west of the Red River.' With the Order in Council of April 25, 1876, these Mennonite settlers were confirmed in their priority. to all land extending from township 1 range 1 east near Emerson to the Pembina Hills in the first three ranges of townships north of the international boundary: twenty-five townships (over 500,000 acres). At different times in its history the Rural Munic­ ipality of Rhineland would include nearly all or parts of this "West Reserve" .

While this area of Manitoba was largely unsettled at the time of