A woman of many talents

Dolls donated by Marjorie Wiebe Hildebrand.

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Margaretha Thiessen Wiebe was born January 24, 1892 in a family of ten girls and three boys on a farm near the village of Schoenau, Altona. She was married to Peter P. Wiebe (oldest brother to Dr. C.W.Wiebe) and lived in the Burwalde S.D. all her married life. They had three daughters and one son.

Margaretha was gifted in many different crafts. She left her artistic touch on the floors and door panels in the home where she grew up. On the wooden floors she painted squares of different darker colors on a light background. Above each door in the home was a panel, framed by molding. Here she painted flowers on some, fruit on others and on one a peacock with all its tail feathers displayed.

One summer her parents left for a lengthy visit to Saskatchewan. Margaretha persuaded two of her sisters and together they decided to paint the floor in their parents’ bedroom. All the furniture was removed, the floor scrubbed, left to dry thoroughly and then painted with several coats of yellow paint. The fun part was designing her own pattern and then actually painting it on the floor. It turned out beautifully and was a wonderful surprise for their parents when they returned home.

After getting married to a quiet reserved man and then moving 30 miles away to Burwalde, she was often lonely. Her artistic bend had to be fulfilled somehow. This she did by sewing and knitting for herself and her children. She was a wonderful seamstress and made beautiful knitted items.

There were many crafts yet to be discovered. The McCalls Needlework magazine was a storehouse of ideas for her. Her daughter, Esther, introduced it to her and this inspired her in crocheting, knitting, tatting and rug making. A book on how to make crepe paper flowers helped fill many Sunday afternoon with flower craft at the dining room table, creating bouquets of lilies, roses, tulips sweet peas and delphiniums. At times she was joined by one or two of her daughters.

In 1941 Esther brought home a pattern for making a little Red Riding Hood doll out of fabric. When flipping over the skirt it became the old Grandma. After making this doll, a whole new world opened up for her as she purchased other doll patterns and experimented in dressing them in styles of years gone by.

The bodies were made of old four bags which she tinted a flesh color. Features were embroidered; hair was wool yarn and the bodies stuffed with raw carded sheep wool. There were dolls with lacey clothes and fancy hair-dos, a Blue Boy and Pinkie couple, a man and woman dressed in old fashioned Mennonite clothes, plus many other characters, She must have made well over 100 dolls, either selling them or giving them away.

A few of her dolls are displayed in the Winkler Heritage Museum, situated in the Southland Mall.

Heritage Highlights, supplied by the Winkler Heritage Society, introduces readers to the people, places and things that still impact us today. The Winkler Heritage Museum is located in the Southland Mall and is open Tuesday to Friday, 12-4 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. The archives located in the Winkler Centennial Library are open Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. For appointments call archivist Ed Falk at 204-325-8929. The Stones and Stories binders are on display at both locations. One way of showing support for the Winkler Heritage Society (Archives, Stones & Stories and Museum) is by becoming a member of the Society. Forms may be picked up at both the Archives and Museum.