First thing, credit where credit is due: I totally stole that cheesy dad-joke title from my friend Brent.
So! Andrew and I just returned home from a one-night getaway to Morden in the middle of spring break. Mid-week getaways are nifty because all the shops, galleries, and eateries are actually open! I love dropping into a community a-buzz with its normal everyday life.
Now, I’ve never paid very close attention to Morden. I mean, I only knew a few key things:
- There are many beautiful stone houses and historic buildings in Morden.
- I’m a big fan of Rendevous Brewery & Taproom.
- Bruce the Mosasaur resides in Morden.
- The Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame (which we stumbled upon after visiting Bruce).
- Stephen Street is the best main street/downtown area in any Manitoba town I’ve seen. (Prove me wrong and I will happily go investigate!)
- Lake Minnewasta is awesome to hike around.
- Morden is home to one of Manitoba’s last two remaining drive-in movie theatres. (The other one’s up near Flin Flon.)
- Oh, and I knew that corn and apples are a big thing around here, because of that famous festival they have every August.
Okay, that’s a lot of “key things”. It sounds like I know quite a lot about the place already, right?
No way. There’s always more to learn! (I think that’s my motto.)
After visiting Morden this time, it turns out that I wanted to do more than what we had allowed time for! I learned some new stuff too.
First a word on the Mennonite connection.
Well, to my mind, Morden has always been Mennonite, but, like, cool-Mennonite. (Why do I feel like only East Reservers can say this? Maybe it’s because we’re far enough removed, so it’s not personal, merely an outsider’s perspective?) Located at the western edge of the R.M. of Stanley (the western half of the original West Mennonite Reserve), super close to the Pembina Hills, you just feel it. It’s a little more removed.
I’ve always felt a distant family connection to the town as well, because of early childhood memories of visiting second cousins in Morden, attending a family funeral (and burial — wonder which cemetery that was!), and lunching the Kopper Kettle. These were my first memories of Morden, all associated with Mennonite family members.
More recently, I’ve learned that my great-great-great-grandfather Jakob Braun is buried a mere three miles south of Morden, so that’s also a sort of a latent, yet potent, personal connection to this area for me.
Even more recently, I’ve learned of the Menno-Canuck Line, a literal division created by the government (around 1877?) which ran roughly north-south through the western part of the West Reserve, effectively separating Morden and Winkler: Mennos on the Winkler side, Brits on the Morden side… creating a lasting sense of rivalry for these two nearby cities.
Okay, so that’s my rundown of what I already kinda sorta knew about Morden before our visit. Coming up next: the new stuff I learned!
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