Ens Heritage Homestead
A brief History of Homestead originally Lot # 7; Village of Reinland, Now Lot # 9, Plan 282, Morden Land Titles Office.
When the freedom of religion, education, self-government and exemption from military duty which had been promised to the Mennonites in Ukraine by Catherine the Great began to erode, they decided it was time to emigrate. William Hespeler, a Canadian immigration agent was dispatched to Ukraine to invite settlers to come to Canada, specifically Manitoba. He arranged for a delegation to visit Canada and explore settlement opportunities.
The Government of the Dominion of Canada set aside seventeen townships of land for exclusive Mennonite settlement which was usually referred to as the “West Reserve”. The first seven townships bordered the Canada/ USA boundary; the 49th parallel, beginning with township #1 east and #1 to #6 west of the Principal Meridian. Another five townships were added in Range #2 and #3 beginning at the Principal Meridian for a total of seventeen townships.
Isak and Suzanna (Vaehr) Fehr Dueck, and three children were among the immigrant passengers on the SS Sarmatian in 1875. After their arrival at Fort Dufferin they went to the newly founded village of Reinland. In 1877, only two years after the village was founded, Isak Dueck (Dyck) was among the first Reinland settlers to register their homestead. On May 31 they officially “entered” the northwest quarter section of 13-1-4W, situated at the west end of the village, as their homestead. Their residence however, under the special Mennonite arrangement with the government known as “hamlet privilege”, was on lot 7 on the north east quarter section, rather than on their homesteaded quarter section.
1886 records indicate John Wall, having married widow Susanna [Fehr] (Dyck), was living here.
Abram Rempel, farmer, blacksmith, and dealer in sewing machines and gasoline motors, purchased the homestead ca 1893 and constructed the present house in 1910. The barn predates the house by a number of years.
In the fall of 1923 the Gerhard and Margaretha (Rempel) Ens family, newly arrived refugee-immigrants from Ukraine (USSR), together with Heinrich G. and wife Helena, purchased this property and for a very short time, lived here together with the Abram Rempel family, before the latter moved to Mexico for the very same reasons they had come to Canada. Rempel, Margaretha’s second cousin and Gerhard’s classmate in grade school in Russia, was 13 years old when he came to Canada from Russia with his parents in 1879 and 57 years old when he and his family moved to Mexico in 1923.
Purchase of this property included 7 horses, 3 cows and some hogs and chickens. There were also 2 ploughs, 2 drills, 2 binders and some other equipment. The land consisted of 460 acres. Total purchase price was $14,000.00 to be paid in 10 years at an annual interest rate of 6%. The Ens family having just arrived from Ukraine (USSR) as credit passengers and owing the Canadian Pacific Railway their entire fare of $120.00 per person, had no money for a down payment. The agreement of sale was that they could first repay the “Reiseschuld” (travel debt) and then start payments on the farm and equipment. Heinrich and Helena lived here with his parents, Gerhard and Margaretha, and farmed together until Heinrich bought a residence of his own a number of years later. Gerhard and Margaretha continued to live on this homestead until the time of their passing.
Their daughter Maria married Heinrich Andres in late December 1923. Heinrich died of tuberculosis just over two years later and their son Jascha died at 2 ½ years of age, also of tuberculosis. Helena, wife of Heinrich, also died of tuberculosis in December, 1927. Maria then moved back to the homestead to live with her aging parents and to become a surrogate mother for Margaret and Henry, Heinrich’s children. Here she devoted her time, energy, and love, in caring for two young children and her aging parents. In 1949 Gerhard and in 1955 Margaretha passed on to receive their eternal rewards.
In November 1959 Maria Andres married bachelor Jacob F. Ens and they lived in the homestead until Maria’s death on August 10, 1995. In January 1996 widower Jacob Ens moved to the Heritage High Rise Apartments in Winkler. Lot 9, complete with all buildings, was then sold to nephew Abram E. Ens to settle the Estate of Maria Ens and is now maintained as the “Ens Heritage Homestead.” Its location and some of the building intricacies and artifacts are unique to the period of settlement of the West Reserve.
The barn has the original “face to face” horse stalls as well as the “face out” stalls for all the horsepower that was so important in the pioneer days. The cattle played a very important role in providing the family with milk, cream, butter and meat. Their place was in the so called Owesied (lean-to) on the west side of the barn.
An original McCormick Deering two tiered grain wagon with high wooden wheels, the famous Dobbelbax, had to be there for hauling the grain from the threshing machine to the granary and later to the elevator in town.
Most of the tools in the Schmaed (blacksmith shop) and carpentry shop as well as the materials under the mechanic’s workbench are still from the Abram Rempel era. The forge has bellows instead of a more modern blower. A number of tongs used for smithing are hanging at the forge. The plough shares beside the forge are waiting to be sharpened and the post drill is ready to drill holes into steel items.
Gerhard Ens was more of a carpenter than a blacksmith, making furniture as well as some of his own tools. The Haewelbenkj woodworking bench is the one that he worked at. Most of the tools and instruments in the shop are the ones he used. There are also a few unfinished items which he left incomplete. The tables in the house are some of the last items of furniture that he made.
Although the house has seen some modernization, it is basically the same as when the Enses bought it. The Tiejelowen (central brick heater) is still intact, as well as the Rietja-koma (meat smoking chamber) on the second floor. The Sommastove (summer room) has been converted into a washroom and laundry area.
The Sommakjaeakj (summer kitchen) sometimes called Winkjelhues, attached to the west side of the house, was used in summer for cooking, canning and baking to keep the house cooler. It had a Spoahieet, (a cook stove), built of brick with a cast iron top, which was fired with fine tree branches or corn cobs, which provided quick, economical heat, hence Spoa (conserve) heat. This summer kitchen has also been used extensively as living quarters by relatives of the Ens Family. In 2008 the R.M. of Stanley declared this property a Municipal Heritage Site known as the ENS Heritage Homestead and it has been donated to the Community Centre at Reinland Inc.
The Heritage Grants Program of Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport assisted in the publication of this brochure.
The Ens Heritage Homestead will be open for tours and visitors May 1 to October 31, Thursday through Saturday, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday visits only by prior arrangement.
For further information, and to make arrangements for group visits or tours please contact:
Abe E. / Helen Ens, 204-325-4494; cell 325-2165
Werner / Marlene Ens, 204-325-4495; cell 362-0267
Ingrid Friesen, 204-325-5123; cell 362-9325
ENS HERITAGE HOMESTEAD
141 Reinland Avenue
Some other House Barns in Reinland.
Community Centre in 1936
Community Centre in 2010
163 Reinland Ave.
164 Reinland Ave.
171 Reinland Ave.
179 Reinland Ave.
193 Reinland Ave.