The Trees & Trails of Schoensee


On Thanksgiving Day, 2018, Andrew and I were introduced to the world of extinct Mennonite street villages in Hanover, by the authors of the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve, Glen Klassen and Ernie Braun. We embarked on an epic adventure that brought their Atlas to life. (Well, the Atlas is already very full of life, in my opinion!) I’ve written several posts about that day (all listed below) but perhaps the jewel of the day was visiting the site of Schoensee and discovering many foundations remaining in the cattle pasture. Its former street is still in the same place! (Feature photo is of the former Schoensee street with our sweet ride courtesy of our generous host on this private land.)

There’s something about this spot that compelled us to take many more photos than one post could hold. And I haven’t even told you about the TRAIL!

But first, the trees.

A perfect climbing tree.

The intact street itself is enough to spark my imagination (honestly, it doesn’t take much) but the trees really bring it to life. These huge old trees are just the sort that would have belonged in front yards, sheltering the houses, a playground for children.

A web of roots.

Now, a century later, many of these large old trees are coming to the end of their lifespan.

Ernie points to the many rings of a giant felled cottonwood.

After a successful hunt for Schoensee cellars, we hopped back onto the Kubota to check out an old trail!

I search for remnants of Schoensee in the cow pasture.

Sadly, my camera died only a few minutes into our adventure. All I have are these three pictures! We were sitting on a bale in the back of the side-by-side, and I was probably at my happiest. So, these pictures were taken looking back at where we had already been.

If you compare today’s Google satellite image to the trails near Schoensee in the Atlas, you’ll see that they match!

And we had the privilege of being driven along this same trial on Thanksgiving Day, 2018!

This had been a part of the original Ridge Road, which follows the natural beach left by the receding ancient Lake Agassiz. The Atlas says this trail was not only used by Mennonites visiting friends and family, but also by French Canadian farmers delivering milk to the Grunthal cheese factory. I love that this portion of the trail has been left undisturbed for all this time. I can picture the carts rolling down this trail, can’t you?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if some of these trails could be revived?

Related posts:

Uncovering Remnants of Schoensee

They Only Named Men

Tannenau, Bogs, and Rogue Cows

Eigenfeld: Near Steinbach

The Strassburg-Friesen Cemetery

The Mysterious Village of Alt-Bergfeld

The Story of Schoensee