COLUMN: Carillon Flashback July 31, 1974 – Unique sundial marks Steinbach centennial


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A unique bronze sundial, the first of its kind in Canada, and only the second in all of North America, was unveiled on the Bethesda Hospital grounds by Manitoba Lieutenant Governor W.J. McKeag to commemorate Steinbach’s centennial year.

Funded jointly by sponsoring municipalities, hospital staff and private donors, the $6,000 project incorporates, in symbolic form, the spirit of the early Mennonite pioneers and represents the third centennial undertaking by the hospital. The fountain and decorative lighting were constructed during the 1967 Canadian and 1970 provincial centennial years.

Speaking briefly following the unveiling, the lieutenant-governor paid tribute to the contribution Mennonites have made to the province’s ethnic mosaic.

CARILLON ARCHIVES This 2015 photo shows the unique sundial erected on the Steinbach Bethesda Hospital grounds as a 1974 Steinbach centennial project in the park, created next to the Cancer Care Wing of the health centre.

“You have enriched our province … through your hard work and religious principles influencing your lives.”

Member of Parliament Jake Epp echoed the lieutenant governor’s remarks saying the handful of Mennonites first settling in the Steinbach area were a visionary group of settlers who left their possessions behind to begin new homesteads in a foreign land.

“Their guiding principle was their faith – the belief that faith should be reflected in every facet of their lives”.

One of the pioneers’ early dreams was construction of medical care facilities and Epp described how the present health care complex had begun, in particular paying tribute to the ladies’ hospital auxiliary, whose efforts kept the early institution supplied with food, blankets and other basic needs.

“These people never thought of their own efforts as an expense. They considered the work as part of service to a community project”.

Hospital board chairman Ernie Friesen, in his opening remarks, mentioned the work of Mary Pauls, the hospital’s activities director, who supplied the design and basic artwork for the sundial and administrator Peter Pauls, who undertook all the organizational work involved.

Explanation of the sundial was made by Jim Penner, hospital board member responsible for buildings and grounds. Bronze castings forming the pedestal and the sundial itself were made by Bay Bronze of Winnipeg.

Encircling the base of the sundial are eight engraved plaques, including one listing the names of the original Mennonite settlers who settled in Steinbach in 1874. The other plaques each carry a message involving time: “Take time to worship, it is the highway of reverence and washes the dust of the earth from your eyes”; “Take time to help and enjoy friends, it is the source of happiness”; “Take time to love, it is the one sacrament of life”; “Take time to laugh, it is the singing that helps with life’s loads”; “Take time to dream, it hitches the soul to the stars”; “Take time to work, it is the price of success”; “Take time to play, it is the secret of youth’’.

The pedestal, in the shape of cruciform, has an engraved oak tree symbolic of the early pioneers’ spirit and the four elements of earth, fire, air and water; the sundial itself represents the globe, inclined at the same angle as the earth’s axis, with a circular band at the equator. Signs of the zodiac skirt the equatorial band, with time markings on the inside of the band. The shadow cast by the slender arrow denotes central-standard-time on the time band.

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