So, last month, The Guardian published an interview with Miriam Toews, which featured a photo with this caption: “Steinbach Manitoba, the Mennonite town where Toews grew up”.
The photo was definitely taken in Steinbach. However, it was taken at the Mennonite Heritage Village, which is an open-air museum in Steinbach. In the photo, I recognized the Chortitz Housebarn and its matching summer kitchen, flanked by the garden on the right. The people in the photo are wearing traditional Mennonite dresses: the costumes that museum volunteers wear on special event days such as Pioneer Days, or Fall on the Farm.
However, it is possible to see Anabaptists in traditional dresses around Steinbach. There are Holdemans and there are Hutterites, and they seem to wear dresses a lot, and also cover their heads. I’m probably getting some details wrong here though, because I don’t actually know very much about any of these people groups (yet). However, at the very least, I’m pretty sure I can tell the difference between a Holdeman or Hutterite and an MHV volunteer (anyone conducting a butter-churning demo at the MHV is definitely a volunteer).
At any rate, one thing is clear: folks are having some trouble distinguishing between downtown Steinbach, and the Mennonite Heritage Village. The purpose of this post is to clear that up a little bit. Here we go!