Heritage Highlights: Winkler Heritage Society as it is today

Archive volunteers: L-R: Marjorie Hildebrand, Ed Falk (archivist), Alyce Klassen and Esther Penner. Missing is Grace Schellenberg.

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Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two part series introducing the Winkler Heritage Society. Part 1 focussed on the past and Part 2 explains what the society is today.
By Doris Hildebrand, Winkler Heritage Museum Curator
Today we see the Winkler Heritage Society as strong as ever meeting in the boardroom of the Winkler Centennial Library with Randy Rietze as chair, Tonille Peters as secretary and now also taking over the work of the treasurer from Ed Zacharias who filled the job faithfully for many years. Members meeting in the boardroom on regular monthly bases are Randy Rietze, Ed Zacharias, Ed Falk, Tonille Peters, Marjorie Hildebrand, Dora Hildebrand, Marie Doell, Helen Falk, Grace Schellenberg, Alyce Klassen and Jean-Paul Dorst.
The Society’s paper now has a new name and editor. Marjorie Hildebrand has been the editor of Heritage Happenings for a number of years and Helen Falk heads the committee who look after mailing or delivering the paper four times a year. Albums viewing the life of the Society are still kept up to date by Dora Hildebrand and the displays at the Civic Centre are now cut down to two besides the window displays at the Museum. The shop keeper at the Museum, Joanne Bergen, looks after Facebook. The website is presently being revamped and Gerry Caines, the ‘new kid on the block’ who hails from Peterborough, Ontario, is working on keeping it interesting so look for it in the coming weeks.
The Winkler Heritage Society has a budget of about $30,000 annually and they rely on donations from private people and business corporations. Grants are also very profitable and the chair, Randy Rietze (and before him Ed Zacharias) has been doing the time consuming job of filling out the applications.
The Archives have seen very little change as they still meet and work in their comfortable space in the Centennial Library with Ed Falk as the archivist and committee members Grace Schellenberg and Marjorie Hildebrand. They now have a volunteer, Esther Penner coming in to assist with the computer work. The Archives have: 1,003 photos or groups of photos on file, (This does not include the George Sawatzky collection!) 2026 files of historic material, (many of which contain dozens of individual items such as newspaper clippings) 135 maps and charts, copies of the Winkler/Pembina Triangle from 1950 to 1999 (52 weeks per year), and file boxes of family or business records. They are open to the public on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. or by appointment by calling Ed Falk at 204-325-8929.
Randy Rietze heads the work of Stones & Stories, but the museum’s shopkeeper, Joanne Bergen does all the computer work. She has spent hours during her time in the museum collecting, sorting and retyping the hundreds of obituaries and setting up the pages for the binders. These completed files can be seen at the Archives or Museum. Obituaries and information from cemeteries in the surrounding villages and school districts are being collected, but work on them will not start until the Winkler cemeteries are caught up.
The Museum has seen the most change through the years. They moved to a much bigger space in the Southland Mall, but are again crowded with their well over 4,000 cataloged artifacts. They have over 2,000 visitors each year. Part-time shop keeper, Joanne Bergen was hired in June of 2012 and is still much at home in the Museum where she works 20 hours a week.
The latest Museum committee consisted of Ed Zacharias as chair, Helen Reimer as secretary, Abe Suderman as treasurer and Dora Hildebrand as curator. Other members were Jerry (who had been chair and secretary in the past) & Marjorie Hildebrand and Merv Reimer. Due to death, illness and other complications, the committee dwindled and now the shopkeeper and curator mostly manage the affairs of the Museum, but planning and concerns is discussed at the regular Society meetings.
Recent volunteers hosting the Museum on Thursday nights are Irina Braun, Karen Krueger, Sharon Krueger, Connie Caines, and Hank & Dora Hildebrand; on Friday nights are Henry & Carol Thiessen, Abe & Tina Friesen, Irvin & Evelyn Enns and Merv & Helen Reimer; and on Saturday afternoon are Ed Zacharias, Marie Doell and Alyce Klassen.
The Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 am – 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Work is being done to revive the Fridays open evening from 7-9 p.m.