A Twilight Wander at the Mennonite Heritage Village

Well, weirdly enough, September is half over already, and in my mind that is significant because it means the housebarns at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach will soon bed down for winter.

Technically it is still summer, but we all feel autumn getting closer and closer and closer. Days getting a little cooler and darker. School buses are bussing about. Pumpkin spice lattes have returned to cafes everywhere. We’ve all dug out our sweaters.

But because it’s still technically summer, the MHV is still open until 8pm on Thursdays, so last night Andrew and I went to walk around the grounds at twilight.

The pictures turned out brighter than it felt, but the sun was setting fast as we ambled around the buildings. I was pleased to see that the cozy lights were still on in the barns. I’d just never experienced the Village quite like this before, and I loved it very much.

Now, most people visit the MHV when they plan to spend many hours there. And you certainly could do exactly that, even just within the main building which houses several exhibits, let alone the many many buildings of the Village, two schools, two churches, many barns, the Livery Barn restaurant, the Dirk Willems Peace Garden, the windmill, the paths, the gardens, the monuments…

But sometimes you just want to stop in for a really nice, really unusual walk. (Or maybe it’s just me.) And then you might balk at paying the twelve dollars admission for a walk. I sure would! Except, I don’t have to pay admission anymore. Ever. Because in 2020, I purchased a lifetime membership at the MHV. Andrew did too. It’s only $500, which, for someone who frequently enjoys stopping in, is an awesome deal. Plus of that $500, you get a donation receipt for $300 so you can claim a lot of that back at tax time. I totally feel like I’m taking advantage of the museum by having bought this lifetime membership, but hey, these are the rules and now I get to use my lifetime membership to stop in for random walks. (Oh and you also get 10% off everything at Village Books & Gifts, which is one of Steinbach’s best stores in my opinion.)

So. Last night was our first time wandering around the Village grounds at twilight. It had been a rainy day so the sky was dark and the plants and trees were vivid. The leaves on the many cottonwoods have crisped up already and the sound they make in the cool September breeze is one of my most favourite sounds.

We wandered through the housebarns with quiet reverence. On an evening such as this, you could almost feel the history and see the ghosts. I would sure like to spend the night at the musuem sometime.

Andrew and I both thought the aroma of the housebarns were familiar, they reminded us our our grandparents’ homes when we were small children. It was all so fascinating. Such a new way to experience the museum.

Being alone on the deck of the windmill as darkness descended felt like such a privilege.

I asked Andrew to take a selfie with me because I was having a good time and felt grateful he was with me.

We sat and reflected at the Dirk Willems Peace Garden. It’s absolutely gorgeous right now.

Our view as we sat upon the benches by the pergola:

It was getting darker and darker and Andrew reminded me these good people were probably wanting to close up but were unsure where we might be on the vast museum grounds, so I reluctantly returned to the main building so that they could see us leave.

I really wish I had visited the museum every Thursday evening this summer, but there are still two more Thursday nights left!

While the housebarns and shop buildings of the Village will be closed for winter, the MHV itself is open year-round! With snowshoe paths and winter festivals and Christmas market. Also its exhibits — the permanent exhibit is always on. And the Leaving Canada exhibit and speaker series continues. AND there is also a very temporary exhibit entitled Our Climate Quest which opens tomorrow. AND the All My Relations informative series in partnership with the Hanover Teachers Association continues to equip Settler-Canadians moving toward Truth and Reconciliation. (Details HERE.)

The Livery Barn restaurant is seasonal, amazing, and will be serving the last meal of 2022 on Sunday October 2nd. Maybe I’ll see you there after church! 🙂

And, if you’re into math, you might be interested in calculating the incredible deal a lifetime membership really is, by clicking HERE.

Read more about our decision to purchase Lifetime Memberships, here:

Members for Life at the MHV