This past Monday, I came across two items that caught my interest, caught my eye. One was a comment on Facebook that suggested the Mennonite Heritage Village was denying that Tourist Hotel ever existed, noting its absence from a map of Steinbach’s Main Street. This is the first I’ve heard of anyone denying its existence. My first thought was to wonder if perhaps the map had been depicting a year prior to the establishment of the Tourist Hotel. Like, if the map was detailing Steinbach in the year 1879 or something, then no — you really would not find the ol’ T.H. on there.
At any rate, the MHV certainly isn’t denying the existence of the Tourist Hotel. Because, here’s the second item that caught my eye: I was reading the May 2018 Village Voice (the MHV’s publication) and came across my own name in the midst of an article which also featured such words as: distillery, schnapps, wine, beer, brewers, alcohol, and… steins. Shortly after I’d posted this blog on Mennotoba, I donated the two steins to the MHV… and Jenna Klassen investigated the source of the steins and wrote an article about the relationship between Mennonites and alcohol, which for some reason I didn’t read in the Village Voice until today.
Naturally, this article is quite interesting, highlighting Mennonites’ long history of association with strong drink, dating back to the Vistula Delta days of the 1700’s (see feature photo, taken from page 7 of the Village Voice). Later in the article, she directly addresses the Tourist Hotel question, stating, “The city’s first public ‘men’s only’ beer parlor opened in the early 1930’s in the Tourist Hotel on Main Street in the very center of town. Despite a petition to have it closed down in 1950 to ‘take away the temptation from the younger generation,’ the parlor remained open.” There is a corresponding footnote, referencing Reflections on Our Heritage: A History of Steinbach and the R.M. of Hanover from 1874 by Abe Warkentin.
If you’d like to read more about what the Mennonite Heritage Village has to say about the Tourist Hotel, you could check out this blog post on Steinbach Online from 2014, in which MHV Director Barry Dyck relates an enthralling selection of stories and facts about the Tourist Hotel.
That Facebook post that I mentioned above kind of amused me, because it seemed like the poster was suggesting they were a real “troublemaker” by wanting to discuss the Tourist Hotel. As if Mennonites in Steinbach are in denial about its existence. Who knows — maybe these Tourist-Hotel-deniers do exist. But I don’t know any personally. Do you?