Exploring Old Gruenfeld with Henry Fast (Author of the Gruenfeld Book!)

(A post wherein I depict Andrew and Henry to be besties.)

This is gonna look like I’m the third wheel on a buddy adventure starring Henry and Andrew. And I’m totally good with it.

Also, there will be many pictures.

So, I’m not entirely sure when I first became aware that Kleefeld, well, hadn’t always been Kleefeld. At some point, I began hearing that it had originally been Gruenfeld. It seemed to me that probably that was just too close to “Grunthal” so they changed it. But no, that is likely not at all what happened. Rather, it was a case of a shifting community, and it had a lot to do with the post office, as was the case with New Bothwell. However, why did Gruenfeld change to another Plautdietsch name, Kleefeld? Why did the government not force it to become named after another British general or whatever all the other names were culled from?

Anyway, the thing with Gruenfeld was that it was located about a mile north of Kleefeld. If you look carefully, you’ll see the Gruenfeld cemetery in the middle of a stark open field at the corner of the 216 and the 52 (on the west side of the 216). I once asked Glen Klassen and Ernie Braun if that cemetery was all that remained of Gruenfeld. They weren’t entirely sure. They told me I should ask Henry Fast.

This makes sense because he literally wrote the book on Gruenfeld:

As you can see on the cover, Gruenfeld was the first Mennonite village in Western Canada.

I believe Henry Fast’s family has owned Gruenfeld property since that time.

He showed us clippings of a complete reconstruction of what the village had looked like! Amazing. Between the book and the picture, the village begins to come to life.

You’ll notice on the cover of the book is a large cottonwood tree. It’s huge! Henry led us directly to it.

I will tell you more about what the book says another time. At the moment, I’m very excited about finally getting the chance to explore the site of this village with the foremost expert on Gruenfeld, Henry Fast.

I love how Andrew and Henry look so small in this picture, next to the giant cottonwood.








Then we followed him on paths that would have been the backs street of the village.

It was such a gorgeous fall day, before the leaves fell.

Next, we visited the Peters Honey Farm across Honey Lane, where we met Larry Peters.

“Don’t touch anything! You’ll be sticky for the rest of the day.”

For the record, he was not lying.

Larry showed us what it’s like in the back! This was very cool.

Love the honeycomb pattern.

A fantastic sign, depicting Larry and his brother Lorne as boys when they got their start helping their father with the honey farm.

Then we headed out exploring some more.

See the giant cottonwood in this picture? It’s on the right.

In the field, Lorne has found some relics of the past village, which remain protected.

These stones seem like they were probably part of a foundation.

This has been a short but sweet post filled with many photos. I can’t wait to tell you more about what I learn about Gruenfeld by reading Henry’s book!

Related posts: 

They Only Named Men. This Is So Disappointing.

The Handwriting of my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Peter Baerg

Mennonite Daughters Writing About Their Fathers