Today in Southern Manitoba, we live in a world full of convenience. Microwaves, swiffers, and eco-friendly washing machines are just a drop in the bucket of all the products that allow our lives to be packed with more exciting things than hum-drum everyday survival. We ask ourselves, ‘What will we nuke for lunch?’ ‘Do I have time to throw a load of clothes in the dryer on my way to work?’ ‘Can I fit a trip to the store to pick up more toothpaste, or a new hairbrush?’
We often forget that these questions we ask ourselves, and the plans we make, were once extreme luxuries, and it is easy to get sidetracked and forget to be grateful for the things that are provided for us today.
The Manitoba Agricultural Museum is one of a few places in Manitoba that can show us some of the life of Manitoba’s bygone pioneer era. Although the museum is a wonderful place to visit all year round, for four days out of the year, the Theshermen’s Reunion and Stampede allows the museum to come to life. As important and fascinating as the machinery, horse shows and all the displays found through out the grounds are, there are other movements going on at the same time. The Reunion Ladies Activities (RLA) is home to a group of volunteers who are dedicated to providing a window to look through and see a glimpse of the lives of pioneer women.
Baking is demonstrated by providing cinnamon buns, baking powder biscuits and homemade pies. Fresh apples with caramel sauce, coffee and lemonade are provided as well. It’s important to note that this is not merely a bake sale. RLA is expressing the importance of homemakers in the pioneer era. Bread was a huge caloric staple, and growing your own food was of utmost importance. Native fruits, like saskatoons, were used in pies and preserving/canning was an essential job to learn in order to provide food for the family during the harsh prairie winter.
Baking skills were passed down through each generation, and the members of RLA are determined to preserve and show these skills.
RLA has a wide range of homemaking skills demonstrated throughout the days of the reunion. Called ‘Hats and Aprons’ there will be crafts to look upon, including wagon wheel rugmaking, tallow and lye soapmaking, hardanger, embroidery, crotcheting, quilting, spinning, carding, butter churning, etc. There will also be a doll museum display for interested avid collectors to inspect.
For over 25 years, the Reunion Ladies’ Activities has put on a fashion show, complete with a raised runway and live models. Starting at 4pm, this fashion show demonstrates RLA’s collection of vintage fashion. All of the pieces are original and have been donated by various people, most of them members of the Manitoba Agricultural Museum. Some of the clothes date as far back as the 1890’s, are tenderly cared for, and proudly worn by volunteers.
So come on down to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum and if you visit during our Theshermen’s Reunion, July 28 to 31, be sure to come by the Reunion Ladies’ Activities, located in the Pioneer Building, for a relaxing and educational stop! The 2011 feature at the Reunion is the Pioneer Trades of Prairie Canada. Visit the Museum’s website for more information – http://ag-museum.mb.ca/