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Semlin or Sarai generally lasted a few years until a more substantial home could be built.

Only a few prosperous families in Blumenort, who had purchased lumber in Winnipeg, built frame houses that first autumn."

Throughout the winter wood was cut in the Pembina Hills for firewood and for a future house. This remained the dominant winter activity until the late 1880's when most settlers had completed a log or frame house." The first timbers were hand hewn, but a sawmill began operating in Blumenort as early as 1878. When more permanent houses were built they were constructed according to the style the Mennonites had been accustomed to in Europe.

The house, with the gables facing the street, was divided into a Vorderhaus "front house" and H interhaus "rear house" . The front part of the house was used for the living room and bedrooms. The barns were almost all attached to the house to afford greater warmth and comfort to both humans and animals. This feature also made it more convenient to care for the livestock in winter. These structures were kept scrupulously clean and great care was taken to avoid fire hazards, though house fires were common during the pioneer years,

Detail of Mennonite house construction 1880's.

Credit: PAM