Kelvin Goertzen
News from Steinbach


This year marks the 150th birthday for Steinbach, Manitoba’s third largest city. And while there are some special events planned, the modest celebration is perhaps in keeping with the history and personality of the community.

The original 18 families that settled in Steinbach in 1874, fled Russia. These Mennonite families, known as the Kleine Gemeinde (small church) Mennonites, tried to build a replica of the village that they had fled. Canada not only offered them land to settle, but they were promised the religious freedom they so deeply cherished.

Those early settlers set the foundation for what would become one of Manitoba’s fastest growing communities in recent years. Yet, if they were able to see Steinbach today, on the surface they would recognize almost nothing of what the city of 20,000 people has become. But if they looked a little deeper, they would see that the community they started maintains many of the values present in the original settlers.

For one, Steinbach remains a community that values giving. Even as the city has changed demographically, annually it competes as one of the most generous communities in Canada for charitable giving. While much of this is rooted in commitment to faith, it is also a reflection of gratitude and the belief that if you have plenty, it should be shared with those who may have less.

For the early settlers of Steinbach, survival was dependent on this philosophy of sharing and helping neighbours. That is even reflected in the early design of the community where settlers divided their land not in the traditional grid system, but in long narrow strips of land perpendicular to and on either side of the creek so that each could have access to a source of water.

Steinbach continues, 150 years after its settlement, to value hard work and industry. While the first families to the community faced the daunting task of building homes and farms while combatting Manitoba winters, they quickly also developed commercial enterprises. Within a couple of generations, the beginnings of foundational companies emerged. What today are known as Loewen Windows, Penner International trucking, Barkman Concrete and the Steinbach Credit Union, trace their roots back to the early days of Steinbach. This entrepreneurial spirit is still well rooted within the community.

Perhaps most notably, the City of Steinbach continues to welcome people from around the world. Just as the original 18 families came in search of a better life, families from around the world continue to come to Steinbach seeking the same for themselves and their children.

As a lifelong resident of Steinbach, I have seen this change and the positive impact it has had. When I was a young person, if I wanted to see the world, I had to board a plane and travel. Today, the world has come to Steinbach and for young people like my son, it has had an incredibly positive impact as he benefits from learning from friends who have a different life experience than his own.

Manitobans who have not visited Steinbach for many years might be shocked by the changing face of the community. Immigration from around the world, particularly from the Philippines over the past two decades and Ukraine in recent years, has made the City truly multicultural. Driven significantly by the provincial nominee program and augmented by Steinbach’s reputation for being a welcoming place, on its 150th birthday Steinbach continues to be a mix of its traditional values and new energy.

The new Canadians settling in Steinbach are not just taking their place in the labour market, they are now becoming community leaders and business owners. One recent example of this transformation was the re-opening of Steinbach’s lone bowling alley which has been in existence for many decades but recently purchased by four families of Filipino heritage. In addition to the extensive renovations, they have added a bistro which serves Filipino and other ethnic food from around the world. It is just one example of how Steinbach is seeing a new spin put on old traditions.

The 150th birthday of Steinbach will see enhanced fireworks and an expansion to its annual summer festival (Summer in the City). It’s a humble way to celebrate a community that has often remained modest while still achieving great things. A century and a half after 18 families came to the region to begin a new life, Manitoba’s third largest city continues to offer opportunity for those who call it home. And that alone is worth celebrating.

Kelvin Goertzen is the current MLA for the constituency of Steinbach. He has served in several Cabinet roles including Manitoba Premier and Deputy Premier


[Cover Photo caption: Steinbach’s Bowling Alley, which has served the community for decades, was recently purchased by four families of Filipino heritage. Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk and MLA Kelvin Goertzen helped re-open the renovated business which includes a new bistro with Filipino and other ethnic food. It is one example of how Steinbach is changing as it celebrates 150 years.]