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GNADENTHAL 1880-1980

Gnadenthal History Book Committee, c1982.
Distributed by John Fehr Insurance, 1050 Henderson Hwy., Winnipeg, MB, R2K2M5.
232pp, cloth, $25.00.
ISBN 0-88925-386-2.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Agnes L. Florence.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

This title is one of the many community histories issued in the past decade as western Canadians celebrate the founding of municipalities, towns, and villages whose beginnings date from the first wave of European settlement. A unique characteristic of this example is its representation of a series of village societies striving to preserve a way of life: the Dutch who settled in the eighteenth-century West Prussia on the marsh deltas of the Danzig; their descendants who migrated to Chortitza, Molotschna, or Furstenland Colonies in southern Russia; and finally, those who migrated to Manitoba.

Gnadenthal itself was settled twice. In 1880, some twenty young men broke ground on the West Reserve for exclusive Mennonite settlement west of the Red River to establish a new community. During 1920-24, all but one family emigrated to Mexico, as a result of conflict with the provincial government over the issue of public schooling and provincially certified teachers. Following a general exodus, a new influx of settlers arrived in 1924. Gnadenthal, Manitoba became the new home for the population from Gnadenthal Baratow Colony, Russia. It is this second group that celebrates its community history, religious, educational, and agricultural development, and social and cultural achievements from 1924 to the present.

For those without personal ties to the community, interest will lie in the social history, accounts of village administration, settlement experiences, agricultural innovation, and specialized institutions that reflect a particular way of life transported from the old land and adapted to the new. Well documented, with good maps and illustrations, the volume's one serious flaw is its lack of index.

Agnes L. Florence, Winnipeg, MB.
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