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His own experiences and love of history motivated a Winkler man to pen his first full-length book.

Although Albert Siemens has had other works published, his new historical book delves into the lives of hotel and liquor store owners living in the West Reserve of Manitoba in the several decades leading up to prohibition in the province.

The term "West Reserve" is traditionally used for the area of southern Manitoba first settled by Mennonites from Russia when they arrived in the early to mid-1870s and later.

"I singled out every town in the West Reserve and surrounding towns from Emerson to Morden," says Siemens. "I tried to follow the individuals of each establishment, and tell their life story as well as their experiences in each town, and the interaction of the public with the hotels and liquor stores."

Siemens says he first became interested in the subject because of his experiences operating the former Winkler Inn, however, it was about three years ago that he got into writing seriously.

"As you know we had a lot of referendums in Winkler over the years on the serving of liquors, licensing, and certain categories of bars. In this timeframe that I talk about, there were a lot of referendums too. There were lots of temperance societies and movements, and the discussion on liquor was very active, both pro and con."

Siemens' book titled, "Whiskey Sales and Hotel Tales of the Mennonite West Reserve 1873-1916," took several years of research.

"Research is time-consuming, especially if you have to leave and go to other centres to find material," says Siemens. He notes the process even took him across the border to Walhalla on many occasions to research at their local library.

Much of the information in the book was taken from journals, newspapers, land records, and census records.

Siemens says his book is definitely not for casual reading, but for those with a love of history, like himself.

Working alongside Friesens Corporation to publish his book, Siemens says, "it was a relief" to finally hold his book in his hands, and he looks forward to writing again.

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