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Chapter vm

Volost to Municipality 1960-1984

By the time Rhineland celebrates its centennial in 1984 it will be more homogeneously Mennonite than it was a century before,' but much less distinctively Mennonite. By the 1960's Rhineland, like the rest ofthe province, was "moving rapidly into step with the affluent, the scientific, the electronized world of the second half of the twentieth century"." By the 1980's it was very much a typical western Canadian municipality. This could be most clearly seen in 1983 when the provin­ cial government introduced legislation to restore French as Manitoba's second official language. The R. M. of Rhineland not only deplored this action, but stated that it wanted English as the only language of the province." This was a far cry from the time when the municipality had petitioned the government to allow it to conduct its business in German. Residents now had adopted the acculturative populist ethic that while different ethnic origins and languages were something to be proud of, none should be raised above the rest.

To a large extent English had also become the dominant language in Rhineland's homes, churches and schools. This is not to say that Mennonitism ceased to be a defining characteristic in Rhineland society but it had become much less important. The German language, separa­ tion from the world and a rural lifestyle were no longer considered essential to the Mennonite faith. While Mennonite villages continued to operate as residential farm communities, they had lost many of their social functions. Not only did most villages no longer have schools, bussing their children to larger centers, but much of the village social life now focussed on larger area towns.