Artifacts are coming to Steinbach for a special exhibit to commemorate 100 years since the start of the Mennonite migration from Russia to Canada. 

Mennonite Heritage Village is bringing back the Russlaender exhibit, which was on display in 2019. This time around, they are changing some of the artifacts. 

Senior curator Andrea Klassen says a 7-stringed guitar is the most recent item that has been added to the display this year. 

“We have at least four or five of these in the collection,” she says. “They seem to have been important to Mennonite life, like music and things like that, in Russia and Soviet Union. We have a guitar for every migration that's come to Canada.” 

One of the guitars dates back to the 1870s. 

Klassen explains the unique part of this guitar is the poor condition it is in, bringing about questions surrounding the circumstances that damaged the instrument. 

“I don’t know exactly what happened but if you look at it, you could imagine it being bashed over something or somebody stomping on the face of it,” she says. “The whole face is kind of collapsed inward.” 

Looking at the damage, Klassen says it really makes a person wonder about the story that comes with the instrument. 

“The story is that the guitar was damaged during the turbulent years of the Russian Revolution and the civil war that followed,” she says. “The guitar belonged to the donor's maternal grandmother.” 

She finds it fascinating that this damaged guitar was important enough to the family that they made sure it came along to the new country, and that it continues to be a valued possession. 

The Russlaender Memories of Migration Tour will begin in Quebec City, that is where the first group of Mennonites landed when approximately 21,000 emigrated to Canada in the 1920s. 

The train tour will arrive in Manitoba in mid-July and events are being planned, including a tour and festivities at Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. 

Klassen says the public is invited to the museum for July 16th, including people who are not part of the train tour.


-With files from Michelle Sawatzky