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Chapter II

Volost and Municipality 1874-1884

The coming of 6,674 Mennonites to Manitoba in the 1870's transplanted European Settlement patterns to the Canadian West: settle­ ment on reserves in solidaristic village communes. This European style of settlement became distinctively Mennonite in Canada and lasted well into the 20th century. However, along with these traditional patterns, some Mennonites also adopted newer Canadian institutions and prac­ tices: municipal government was introduced in 1880; trading centers were established on the West Reserve after 1882; public schools were introduced in 1880's; and some farmers began moving onto their quarter sections as early as the late 1870's.

These developments, however, should not be seen as the inevitable march of progress. While some villages began breaking up almost as soon as they were established, many remained strong retaining their open field economy into the 1920's. While public schools were intro­ duced in the 1870's private village schools lasted well into the 20th century. Similarly, the introduction of municipal government did not end the traditional Colony or Volost administration, which was main­ tained until the emigration of the Old Colony Mennonites to Mexico in the 1920's. While there was conflict between the Gebietsamt and municipal council, an arrangement was eventually worked out whereby both could function side by side.

Early Settlement

The first group of 1 ,400 Russian Mennonites, Bergthal and Kleine Gemeinde, arrived in Canada in the fall of 1874 and settled in eight