Steinbach, Manitoba: A Historical and Touristic Overview
Steinbach, Manitoba, a city located about 58 km south-east of Winnipeg, is the third-largest city in Manitoba, Canada. With a population of 17,806, it is the largest community in the Eastman region. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Hanover to the north, west, and south, and the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie to the east.
Steinbach was first settled by Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites from Ukraine in 1874, and their descendants continue to have a significant presence in the city today. The city is situated on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, with the Sandilands Provincial Forest a short distance east of the city.
The Etymology of Steinbach, Manitoba
Steinbach, which means "Stony Brook" in German, was named by Low German-Mennonites in 1874 after a village also called Steinbach in the Borosenko colony, Ukraine. The city's stony brook was drained sometime after settlement.
The History of Steinbach, Manitoba
Treaty 1 and the East Reserve
The history of Steinbach, Manitoba, is deeply rooted in the signing of Treaty 1 between the Imperial Crown of Great Britain and Ireland and the Anishinabe people in 1871. After the Assiniboine and Cree First Nations left the region in the 1820s, the Anishinabe hunted in and moved seasonally through the area on their way to the burial grounds in the Whiteshell.
A bison trail ran alongside the Steinbach Creek on the far eastern edge of the Canadian prairies, a trail that was used by First Nations people for a number of years after settlement. After the signing of Treaty 1, the Canadian government began recruiting European farmers to the region, establishing the English and Scottish settlement of Clear Springs in 1872, just north of the present-day location of Steinbach, and partially contained within the modern city limits.
In 1873, the Canadian government sent William Hespeler to recruit Mennonites to move to the area. By the 1870s, some Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites in Russian-occupied Ukraine became dissatisfied with increasing Russification and the removal of their military exemption and were persuaded by Hespeler to investigate Manitoba as a possibility for relocation.
Early History of Steinbach, Manitoba (1874–1909)
Steinbach's original 18 Mennonite settler families were almost entirely of the new Kleine Gemeinde sect of Mennonites, a small conservative minority known for being gifted farmers. They left the Borosenko colony (a newly-formed offshoot of the larger Molotschna (or Milk River) colony) in south Russia (now Ukraine) and arrived in Canada late in the summer of 1874.