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across the tracks into blocks for business and residential development. While not exclusively Mennonite, Altona was much more of a Men nonite town than Gretna.
Thus, by 1900 all the major centers in the R.M. of Rhineland had been established, with Gretna serving as the primary business and social center of the municipality. Altona and Plum Coulee were not far behind, however, and by 1900 they already had larger grain storage capacity than Gretna."
Table 12 Population of Towns 1884-1901
1895 1896 1901
Plum Coulee Rosenfeld Altona
Source: Assessment Rolls; Canada Census
While Mennonites formed a substantial part of all towns, not all Mennonites were happy with the growth of trade centers. The con servative Reinlaender Mennonite Church bitterly opposed the influence of trading centers and avoided them as much as possible. The existence of these trade centers created the possibility for Mennonites to leave the villages for their own quarter section and introduced the Mennonites to a larger western Canadian society. By 1900 this exposure was already having profound repercussions on the social and economic structures of Mennonite life in Manitoba and Rhineland.
Municipal Business and Politics 1890-1900
Agricultural expansion and prosperity also had an effect on munic ipal activity in the 1890's as increased expenditures were needed for bridges, roads and district schools. In addition, drainage became a major priority and expense as the municipal council dispensed with statute labour and in 1885 instituted a tax of $1.50 in lieu of one day of statute labour. 53 By 1900 the municipality had major accounts at all lumberyards, was portioning out grants to twenty district schools and was paying substantial salaries to pathmasters and road crews grading the increasing road mileage.
Following the revision of municipal boundaries in 1890 the council ofthe newly enlarged R.M. of Rhineland met for the first time in Altona on January 7, 1891. Meetings over the period of the next decade, however, were held in various villages. The municipal office, on the other hand, was switched back and forth between Gretna and Altona