For some reason I have it in my head that author Armin Wiebe was familiar with Halbstadt in his boyhood. I cannot trace nor recall how I came by that information, but I do assume it to be true. After all, for several years now, Andrew and I have been meaning to visit Halbstadt for this very reason. Finally, a few weeks ago, we did!
Though I will say that I don’t think we saw all we ought to have seen in association with this village site. For example, the cemetery. That simply means we will return!
We knew we had come to the right place when we noticed a cairn, complete with a little box with a notebook to jot our names into! For some reason I love these little guestbook boxes. They’re so cute and optimistic, and I love that.
This is an amazingly huge cairn, complete with detailed map. I’m genuinely impressed. I feel like this might be the largest, most magnificent village cairn I’ve seen yet!
The above cairn says:
Halbstadt Area Historical Site
Blumenthal – Halbstadt – Strassberg
In the late 19th century our ancestors settled this land, with the promise of freedom to worship God, and the hope of owning their own land. With a great faith in God and a strong determination, the prairie soon became a garden of neat farmsteads and fields of lush crops.
Churches and schools were built for worship and learning. A store, post office, blacksmith shop, garage, and transfer were established to fulfill their material needs.
To provide entertainment for both young and old, this community center including baseball, skating and curling facilities was built.
But as the years passed, fewer farmers with larger equipment were able to work the land, and many left the area to seek their fortune elsewhere. Better vehicles and roads made travel much easier, so more business was being done in the larger centers, and the Halbstadt businesses were gradually shut down.
We hope this monument will be part of keeping the spirit of Halbstadt alive in our memories.
“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Psalms 16:6
After reading the cairn, we explored the immediate village which sits at a crossroads. I wondered if the above old abandoned building had once been something. I think it sits on the site where the post office and store had once been. According to the cairn, the post office and store closed in 2000. Sounds like it held out for a respectable length of time!
The village also boasts a beautiful dry creek which runs through pasture land, flanked by oaks. Seems to me this almost follows the village street and I wonder if perhaps there had been housebarns along either side.
I like to imagine that sort of thing, anyway.
We’ll return to Halbstadt to see the cemetery, another time!