Mennonite Travel Guide

If you’re interested in learning more about the Mennonites of Manitoba, here are a few places you could start.

Altona area: Check out Neubergthal, near Altona, which is one of the few remaining traditional Mennonite villages in Western Canada. It’s also the only Mennonite-related national historic site in Western Canada. Neubergthal is not a museum. It’s a real town with real people, so be polite. You’ll find beautiful Mennonite housebarns and other historic buildings. Nearby villages of South Blumenort and Reinland are also worth a visit. In Altona itself, visit the monument to Mennonite settlers before checking out the world’s largest Van Gogh and the lovely Gallery in the Park.

Mitchell: Just west of Steinbach is the town of Mitchell, where you will find a small historic cemetery on the site of the former Mennonite settlement of Vollwerk. Here you will find a cairn and gravesite of Jacob Peters, one of the original Russian Mennonite delegates to Canada. Near Mitchell, you should also seek out the Randolph Chortitzer Church and historic gravesite.

Niverville: Just outside of Niverville on the Rat River, you will find the Mennonite Memorial Landing Site. It’s a beautiful spot to fish and also contemplate the journey of the Russian Mennonites to Manitoba. Nearby, you will also find a cairn marking the location of the Schantz Immigration sheds.

Steinbach area: Perhaps the most significant Mennonite tourist attraction in Canada is the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. The indoor galleries document the story of the Russian Mennonites, while the outdoor village (open seasonly) preserves many historic Mennonite buildings. You could spend an entire day here. If you want to learn more about the history of Steinbach, in particular, you could do the Heritage Walking Tour, a self-guided tour of historic locations in Steinbach. Miriam Toews fans will want to stop at the Jake Epp Library to see the plaque (inside the library) and reading garden that honours her father Melvin Toews (the subject of Swing Low), or you can even do the entire self-guided Miriam Toews walking tour that I created. Many other historic sites in the Steinbach area, including gravesites and cairns, can be found in the excellent Historical Atlas of the East Reserve.

Winkler: Visitors to Winkler should seek out the beautiful Bethel Heritage Park, which honours Winkler’s Jewish and Mennonite heritage. Included in the park is the Wall of Remembrance, which honours Mennonite Conscientious Objectors. A visit to the Pembina Threshermens Museum allows visitors to learn about the agricultural traditions of the Pembina Valley. The museum contains a few buildings related to the area’s Mennonite heritage including the Reimer House and the Braun log house. The small Winkler Heritage Museum in the Southland Mall is also worth a visit. A historic marker on the spot of the first Mennonite Brethren church in Canada is just outside the city of Winkler.

Winnipeg: Winnipeg is the largest city in Manitoba, with many non-Mennonite-related attractions. However, if you want to explore Menno Winnipeg, a stop at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery is worth your time. The Heritage Centre, on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University, features a small gallery and extensive Mennonite archives. The Mennonite Mecca of North Kildonan has a small monument to Mennonite settlers. Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the first national museum outside Ottawa, also features the Mennonites along side many other groups who have been victims of human rights violations over the years. You will also find a few mentions of Mennonites at the excellent Manitoba Museum.

Horse and Buggy? Most Mennonites in Manitoba assimilated into mainstream culture decades ago. Although you will find some Mennonites with distinctive clothing in almost any of the communities mentioned above, until recently the province was not home to many horse and buggy Mennonites. However, there is a community of horse and buggy Mennonites living near Gladstone, which is northwest of Portage la Prairie. It’s probably not very convenient to visitors of the above-mentioned locations, but would be an interesting stop if you are heading to Riding Mountain National Park in the western part of the province. More accessible are the Amish. A small but growing community of Amish reside near the Ukrainian village of Vita, about 50 kilometres south of Steinbach. During the summer months, you can purchase baked goods from the Amish at the small Vita farmer’s market. There are even two or three hitching posts in town. Please be respectful and remember that the Amish do not like to have their photographs taken!

This list is a work in progress: Our goal is to list every Mennonite-related attraction in Manitoba. If you have any additions for us, let us know: