Mennonites Walking


I’ve been reading history books again and here are a few disjointed thoughts on how often, and how far, the Manitoba Mennonites of the late 1870s used to walk on the daily. I just stopped to wonder and jotted down my wonderings and have not at all fleshed any of this out.

I wonder if anyone has ever written about how Mennonites around here used to walk everywhere.

From village to village

The trails tell the story

What that meant for connection

To each other

And to the earth

An earthy people

How long it must have taken

Putting one foot in front of the other

And they were not wearing the engineered sneakers we wear today.

No sunscreen.

(But they must have had excellent hats? Bonnets that tie under the chin so the wind won’t sweep it away?)

What must it have been like to walk

And why

Sometimes to share major news – of a funeral or a wedding, to pass along an invitation to the next name on the list

Sometimes to simply stay in touch

Sometimes when they reached their destination, no one was home

What did they do then?

Often because it took so long to walk from one place to another, they would spend the night.

Next-level hospitality.

Weather can change fast – thing is on the prairies you can see it coming – you read the clouds, you read the sky

So would they see a storm on the horizon and change their route so as to arrive at a modified destination to take shelter?

Some would walk daily, such as teachers – there was one story about a teacher walking to Chortitz, wasn’t there?

The walking seems like a romantic notion, serene

It certainly must have been sometimes, as there are reports of the most romantic trails at Rosenfeld and Kronstgard

But other times, not

I wonder if they got blisters and frostbite and mosquito bites

Bitten by frost and mosquitoes

Accounts of long walks

On page 38 of Royden Loewen’s Blumenort book, I learn that in December of 1874, Peter Klassen walked from Rosenort to Blumenort to marry Katharina Koop.

On the same page I learn that Gruenfeld (Kleefeld) is a 3-hour walk from Blumenort. This must have been common knowledge.

On page 157, I learn that sometime in the year 1890, C. Plett walked to Gretna. I wonder how long that journey took him.

On page 153 of Henry Fast’s Gruenfeld book, I read about how in late 1874, Jacob Barkman walked the eight miles from Steinbach to Gruenfeld to preach, “but arrived a little late because of the death that morning of his nine-year-old daughter Anna.”

This walk, I cannot imagine.

I have a lot more reading to do. And walking.

The Trees & Trails of Schoensee

Ridge Road & Rosengard