I never went to school in Grunthal, but when I was growing up, my family attended a church there. Religiously. Ultimately, this ended up giving me the impression that I’d seen about all I could ever hope to see of Grunthal. Ever.
But the neat thing about growing older is that you start to see things differently, and perhaps with greater curiosity.
At some point, it dawned on me that here in the East Reserve region, we constantly assume it’s super-Mennonite. And for sure there are a lotta Mennos around here. BUT, when you look at the original villages, there were about 60 of them (give or take…) and today, how many Mennonite-named towns in Hanover can you think of? I can only name four: Steinbach, Kleefeld, Blumenort, and Grunthal. So, about 56 villages either faded away, or were anglicized by the government. So, it makes me curious about the remaining four, and the transitions these communities have gone through since the 1870’s.
So, Gruenthal Village was probably established around 1876, and its main street ran north-south. Okay, so that’s interesting, because today, Grunthal’s main street runs east-west. How did the village placement remain the same, but the main street change directions so…aggressively? According to the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve, a mill was built at the east end of the village, thus creating a new service centre, and a new main street — the one we know today.
You can still see the original main street, though. Think about where the cemetery is in Grunthal, kind of just behind Co-op, on a gravelly ridge. Main Street had run south from there. Today, it’s called Church Street, and you wouldn’t be able to tell that it had ever been a main street, except that it’s just a little bit squiggly.
So, after eating a hearty meal at Bigg Smoak BBQ, we went to the Grunthal Cemetery. My great-grandparents are buried there — I know this, because my great-grandmother passed away when I was 14, and I had been at her funeral. I haven’t been to the cemetery since, and I could not locate their graves on this visit. Nevertheless, here are some photos: