Prairie Pioneers: (2008) (43 min.) The Mennonites of Manitoba (1874 – 1974)

By Otto Klassen
Otto Klassen’s first full-length documentary film was produced in 1974 to commemorate the centennial of Mennonite settlement in Manitoba. The film recreates various aspects of pioneer life, such as the building of sod huts (zemlin), and the arrival of Russian-Mennonite settlers at the juncture of the Red River and the Rat River in 1874. It also includes footage of Manitoba Centennial Celebrations of 1970 in various Manitoba Mennonite communities, including the first ever visit of members of the Royal Family – Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Prince Charles – to a Mennonite village in Canada, and the visit of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to Steinbach. Other Centennial events presented in the film include a hymn sing and choral festival in Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall, a large Mennonite gathering at the Winnipeg Arena, and
celebrations in Altona and at the Mennonite Village Museum in Steinbach.

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