Feds give grant to Eddie Schmidt Housebarn

Greg Vandermeulen, The Red River Valley Echo, June 1, 2010

The conservation plan for the Eddie Schmidt Housebarn in Neubergthal is another step closer to reality after a grant that could total $20,895 was given from Parks Canada's Historic Sites Cost Sharing program. Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Hoeppner was in Neubergthal on May 26 to present the grant and tour parts of the street village, a national historic site.

She said the village is meaningful to future generations.

"Commemorating our heritage does not just mean remembering the past, but also using the past to enrich our present lives and help build our future," Hoeppner said. "Neubergthal Street Village has retained much of its original character and provides an exceptional heritage experience for visitors. Preserving the Eddie Schmidt Housebarn will enhance that experience."

The barn portion of the Eddie Schmidt housebarn was moved from the Ukraine in the 1870's and the carefully numbered tamarack timber was reassembled. The house was built new at that time by Peter Klippenstein.

The home was passed on to his son Bernhard, then to his son John, whose widow ran the farmstead from 1950 with hired hand Eddie Schmidt.

When Schmidt died in 2006, he willed the property to the Neubergthal Heritage Foundation.

Partly because of Schmidt's support for education over the years, it was decided to turn the property into an education centre, where tours and field trips can come, and where people can learn about Mennonite traditions.

The entire project will cost up to $600,000.

Neubergthal Heritage Foundation chair Margruite Krahn said this money will help them teach others about the village. "Many urban and rural people have not experienced the satisfaction and connection of growing the food they eat, canning and preserving for winter, sewing their own clothes, or taking care of animals," she said. "These funds will help the Neubergthal Heritage Foundation develop a plan for the Eddie Schmidt Housebarn Education and Resource Centre, to facilitate educating the public about our Mennonite history and heritage, reconnecting them with the land, food production and other life skills."

Parks Canada's Cost Sharing Program has a budget of $20 million provided by Canada's Economic Action Plan.