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Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna. - Built in 1946.

Credit: CMCA

Gretna's other main source of population and revenue came from the Mennonite Collegiate Institute which had operated in the town since 1908. In 1946 a new school was built replacing the old M CI building that had been built in 1908. In 1952 the school also built a new auditorium, adding a dormitory in 1955. With these additions enrollment rose from 50 in 1939 to over 190 students in 1957.54

While the school's main aim had historically been to produce teachers for Manitoba's public schools, it also played a much wider role as a center of learning for the Mennonite people of southern Manitoba and Western Canada. Teaching both the required core of the high school curriculum, the school also taught both Mennonite History and re­ ligious studies and emphasized German and music.

Plum Coulee, like Gretna, grew slowly after 1946. Because its trading area was completely within the hinterlands of Winkler and Altona, Plum Coulee only served the district with weekly needs. It remained an important grain shipping point and in 1958 a large seed cleaning plant was built by George Harder operating 24 hours a day. Plum Coulee also remained a strong residential community and in 1952 the highway had to be rerouted to bypass residential expansion.

But if improved roads and highways had increased the trade of towns like Altona and Winkler, they relegated the area's smaller centers to grain shipment points and residential villages. Centers such as Rosenfeld, Horndean, Halbstadt steadily lost businesses, though they did manage to maintain their population.