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Post war agricultural expansion, on the other hand, combined with continued high prices to encourage greater farm mechanization and the adoption of new technologies which increased yields. Farms grew larger as farming became more efficient and the population of the R.M. of Rhineland dropped steadily.

Along with these changes there was also a good deal of continuity in Rhineland. Mennonite villages which had survived the migration of the 1920's and the depression of the 1930's, continued to function as farm operator villages. Common cultural traditions, a common lan­ guage and a common faith fostered strong community ties in Rhine­ land's villages where the modem world co-existed with the traditional.

Fig. 26

Population of the R.M. of Rhineland and Incorporated Towns 1941-1961


1946 1065 482 433 7406


1951 1438 608 467 6730


1956 1698 603 498 6451


1961 2026 575 510 6003


Altona Gretna

Plum Coulee

R.M. of Rhineland

Total Population

Source: Census of Canada.

507 440 8936


Co-operation was another force of continuity during the period up to 1960. While co-operation and co-operative leaders became less ideological and more pragmatic ,1 the co-operative ethic remained strong in the municipality. Altona, the main urban center in Rhineland, was in fact more of a benevolent company town than a center of competition. 2

World War II and Rhineland

This ambivalence between modernity and tradition was evident in the Mennonite reaction to World War II. The outbreak of the war in 1939 presented another crisis for Mennonite leaders and communities in the R.M. of Rhineland. Not only was there the external question of whether the government would honour their exemption from military service, but there was the internal question of Mennonite youths willingly joining the armed services. In fact World War II presented many challenges different from those of World War I. As one Mennonite historian has pointed out, closer contact with the larger world and the greater awareness of the international crisis, brought the war front much closer in 1939 than it had been in 1914.3