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Peter Guenther 1871-1955

Peter Guenther- 1871-1955

Peter Guenther (1871-1955) was born in Nieder Chortitz in the Chortitza Colony, SouthI Ukraine. His parents, Franz (1822-1900) and Katharina (Dyck), his wife by his fourth marriage, were one of the first families to emigrate from southern Russia. They arrived in Canada in 1875, and establishing themselves in the village. of Schoenweise, Manitoba.

Franz, Peter's father, died on Aug. 20, 1900, and was buried in Schoenweise, Man. Mother Katharine spent her last years at Aron and Anna (Bergman) Guenter's and in Sept 1912. She was buried in the Guenter Cemetery on SE 26-40-6-;W3 in Sask. Hague-OslerReserve.

On. July 15, 1894, Peter mamed Katharlna Loewen. Katharina (1876-1958) was born in Berwalde, Chortitz, South Russia on May 27, 1876, to Jacob (1847-1937) and Katharina (1855-1938) Loewen. Katharina, as a young child immigrated to Canada from southern Russia with her parents in 1891, making their home in Schoenwiese, Man.

Her parents farmed at this location until 1903 when they moved to the Hague-Osler Reserve in Sask., purchasing the north half section 26-40-4 W3, south of Hague. Thd Loewens lived on this farm until l904 when they moved te the vi11sge of Neuanlage. Upon retiring in 1923 they moved and spent eight years with Peter and Katharina Guenther who provided living quarters for them in tha summer house. Mr. Loewen passed away in 1937 at thd home of Jacob and Marin Klassen where he spent the last days with his wife. He was buried in the Neuanlage village cemetery. After her husband's death mother Loewen alternated her stay with her daughters. She died on Sept. 15, 1938, and was burled in Reinland village cemetery.

Peter and Katharina Guenther had a very eventful llfe As young children they had both crossed the ocean with thelr parents, who were in search for a new life and freedom. Their parents left Russia under documented assurance, from the government o Canada, who offered them exemption from military service and a promise to be able to orient their children in their own private schools.

They settled at Schoenwlese, Man. in the West Reserve where Peter and Katharlna grew up. The West Reserv, was opened up just north of the Canada-U.S. border, west of the Red River. It was established in 1875, one year after the East Reserve had received its first Mennonite settlers.

Peter and Katharina were baptized upon their confession of faith and were received in the fellowship of the Altkolinier Reinlander Menniten Gemeinde (Old Colony Church). They were united in holy matrimony and remained resident in Shoenwiese, establishing a farmstead in the village. They were well qualified as settlers for the Canadian frontier. They had both experienced the harshness and rlgours of pioneer llfe. Peter grew up in a log cabin that his parents were forced to bulld after losing their new house-barn in a fire which left the famlly in dlstress and dire need for quick shelter. The log cabin was introduced to the Mennonites by foreign settlers lIving near the West Reserve. They built these cabins in the style that they had in Europe, with a house and barn in a lengthy structure which was convenient in winter. It housed cattle under the same [line missing]. ...

venture our in the cold. It was more modern than the 'semlin" (sod hut) or a "Sarai" (thatched roof). It was spacious enough to store grain, feed, and also the oxen which was their chief farm-power. The family members, Peter, Gerhard and Aron had the particular job of carefully cleaning the barn regularly through the day for reasons of hygiene.

Peter and Katitarina established a neat farmstead of which they could call their own. They were happy and content to be able to live in a closely knit community and close to their kin. But the conflict between the old and the new that was soon staged within their community began to bother them. The Leherdienst (ministerial), with a desire to preserve their traditions, resisted the coming municipal government, public schools, the break up of villages, and the and breaking the adoption up of the English language.

However, It was not the only crisis that arose. The agrlcultural expansion during the early 1900s had taken most of the arable land with few people benefitting from it. This left the young couple with little opportunity to acquire land and start farming. They looked elsewhere and decided on a move to the Northwest Territories (Sask.).

They moved in Aprll of 1903, and settled in the village of Reinland, near Osler. They resided there until 1907 when they had an urge to move onto a farm. The opportunity came when they visited the Henry Neudorfs who had a desire to move out of [into] the v1ilage and swapped places with them. They moved and bullt a new farmstead on S 1/2 of 4-40-43W, near Reintand. They resided and farmed until 1948; the last years with the help of their son George.

Jacob L. and Annie Guenther took over the farm and at the same time made provisions for the parents to stay on the same yard. Uncle Peter died Sept. 11, 1955. Aunt Katharlna spent her tast days with her children Katharine, Anna and Helena. She died on June 9,1958, and was buried in the Reintand cemetery where her husband had also been laid to rest.

-- Submited by Jacob G. Guenter




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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
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