Abstract

In the 1920s some 3,800 Mennonites who had settled in Manitoba in the 1870s left their farms to migrate to the Bustillos Valley of northern Mexico. While conflict over education was the main stimulus for the move, this paper argues that the migration also offered an opportunity to restore the system of land tenure Mennonites had practiced in Imperial Russia. Conservative Mennonites had reified a tsarist-imposed system of semi-communal land tenure, making it a requirement of faithful religious and social practice. These sensibilities were, however, incompatible with the land tenure system of the new Dominion of Canada giving rise to tension and conflict. When migration became a reality, conservative Mennonites sought to reestablish the colony and village tenure systemby seeking a block sale of their individual lands in Manitoba and by purchasing land in Mexico under colony title, thereby restoring semi-communal land tenure.

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