Steinbach, Manitoba

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City of Steinbach
Clockwise from top: The Steinbach Millennium Clock Tower to the right in downtown Steinbach, the Steinbach Post Office during Winter, and the historic Stony Brook.
Clockwise from top: The Steinbach Millennium Clock Tower to the right in downtown Steinbach, the Steinbach Post Office during Winter, and the historic Stony Brook.
Coat of arms of Steinbach
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The Automobile City
Steinbach is located in Manitoba
Location of Steinbach in Manitoba
Coordinates: 49°31′33″N 96°41′02″W / 49.52583°N 96.68389°W / 49.52583; -96.68389Coordinates: 49°31′33″N 96°41′02″W / 49.52583°N 96.68389°W / 49.52583; -96.68389
Country Canada
Province Manitoba
Region Eastman
Rural Municipality Hanover
Established 1874
Incorporated 1946 (town)
1997 (city)
 • City mayor Chris Goertzen
 • Governing body Steinbach City Council
 • MP (Provencher) Ted Falk (CPC)
 • MLA (Steinbach) Kelvin Goertzen (PC)
 • City 25.59 km2 (9.88 sq mi)
Elevation 253.6 m (832 ft)
Population (2016)
 • City 15,829 (3rd)
 • Density 618.60/km2 (1,602.2/sq mi)
 • Metro 15,829 (126th)
 • Change 2011-16 Increase17.0%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Forward sortation area R5G
Area code(s) 204, 431
Demonym Steinbacher
NTS Map 062H10
Website City of Steinbach

Steinbach (/ˈstnbæk/ (About this sound listen); German: [ˈʃtaɪnbax]) is a city located about 58 km south-east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. According to the Canada 2016 Census, Steinbach has a population of 15,829, making it the third-largest city in Manitoba and the largest community in the Eastman region.[1] The city is bordered by the Rural Municipality of Hanover (north, west, and south), and the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie (east). The name of "Steinbach" is translated from German as "Stony Brook" and was first settled by German-speaking Mennonites from the Russian Empire in 1874. The city continues to have a strong Mennonite and German influence today; more than 50 percent of the residents claim German heritage.[2] Steinbach is found on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, while Sandilands Provincial Forest is a short distance east of the city.

Steinbach is primarily an agricultural community; however, as the regional economic hub of southeastern Manitoba, Steinbach has a trading area population of about 50,000 people.[3] The city also has many service and commercial businesses to serve the population. Steinbach is the third fastest-growing census agglomeration in Canada. Out of the top eight fastest-growing agglomerations, Steinbach is the only one located outside Alberta.[4][5][6] The city had a population growth of 22.2% between the 2006 and the 2011 census periods. The city has gained national recognition as an immigration destination of Canada and a model for immigrant integration in the country.[7]


Pre-European settlement[edit]

The areas of southeast Manitoba where Steinbach was later founded, were originally lands of the nomadic Ojibway-speaking Anishinabe people. They used their traditional lands for hunting, fishing, and trapping. The Anishinabe knew no borders at the time and their land ranged both north and south of the US–Canada border, and both east and west of the Red River. On 3 August 1871 the Anishinabe people signed Treaty 1 and moved onto reserves such as the Brokenhead Indian Reserve and Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation Reserve.[8] Shortly thereafter the government began surveying and staking out the land for the East Reserve (now the R.M. of Hanover).

Early history[edit]

Steinbach (meaning "Stone Brook" in German)[9] was founded in 1874 by German-speaking Mennonite settlers from Ukraine. They spoke a Low German dialect known as Plautdietsch. Prior to settling in Steinbach, the original Mennonites had first moved from the Netherlands, Prussia (Germany) and Switzerland to the Molotschna (or Milk River) colony in Imperial Russia.[10] Within the settlement of Molotschna were a group of people following the Kleine Gemeinde, known for practise of the New Testament teachings of non-resistance, community of sharing and the publication of the first inspirational books. This group was a small minority in Molotschna but its farmers were known as the best in the community.[10] Mennonite immigrants were attracted to Canada by the promise from the Canadian government of military exemption; in the Russian Empire they were subject to requirements for army service.

There were two groups coming from the Molotschna colony to settle in the East Reserve: Mennonites from the Bergthal and the Kleine Gemeinde churches. When the Kleine Gemeinde families arrived in 1874, they found that much of the better land had already been settled by some of the other Bergthaler and Kleine Gemeinde families. The earlier settlers and families had come to realize the area suffered from excessive moisture and settled upon much of the higher lands and gravel ridges. So Steinbach's earliest Mennonite settlers settled in the northeast corner of the East Reserve. The 20 homesteads were laid out on the northeast side of present-day Main Street along the Steinbach Creek.[10]

The current windmill at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach

The early settlers started a school in the first year, and in the following year of 1875 built a school and teacherage.[10] A few years later, the first and original windmill in the town was built in 1877 by Abraham S. Friesen.[11] Entrepreneurs took advantage of the business opportunities at the time and several small businesses sprang up. Many other important and large businesses developed as well, helping to establish Steinbach as a regional service centre for the area. After a period of eight years, in 1882, Mayor Gerhard Giesbrecht said that the village had grown to 28 families with a population of 128.[10]

In 1910, the line village design for the community ended, and the settlers obtained individual titles to their open-field properties.[10] In 1912, a Ford auto dealership was started, the first Ford dealership in Western Canada.[10]

Steinbach had grown to a population of 463 by 1915, and it continued to attract immigrants from Europe.[10] Many of the new immigrants continued to be Bergthaler Mennonites, but Steinbach also was the destination for new German and Lutheran settlers, as well as some British families who had previously settled in the Clearspring Settlement slightly to the north.[10] Due to continued growth, Steinbach was incorporated as a town on 31 December 1946.[12] As the regional service centre for the area, Steinbach developed manufacturing, trucking, and retailing, particularly in automobile sales. Steinbach became known regionally as the "Automobile City". Over the next decades Steinbach continued to grow, and would eventually be incorporated as a city on 10 October 1997.[12]

The town was surprised with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in 1970, the year of Manitoba's centennial.[13] A crowd of 10,000 waited along the streets of Steinbach as the royals visited, coming from the east along Highway 52 after their visit to La Brouqerie. The Carillon described the visit saying "It was the most memorable and exciting moment in the history of the Southeast. For the first time since the earliest European settlers arrived in the 1860s and 1870s, a member of the British royal family paid a personal visit to the communities of La Broquerie, Steinbach, Sarto, Grunthal and St. Pierre. For these communities and their people the visit by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles on the eve of Manitoba's 100th birthday highlighted a century of economic and cultural development."[13]

The Mennonite Heritage Village museum, located in the city, provides a glimpse at the life of these settlers through a reconstructed village and interpretive displays. Its Dutch windmill, which was rebuilt (with help from Dutch millwrights) after the 1972 replica was destroyed by arson in 2000, is a recognized symbol of the city.[14]

Steinbach attracted prominent attention in 2004 when Miriam Toews, who was born and grew up there in a Mennonite family, published her novel A Complicated Kindness. This became a bestseller, exploring a fictionalized city modeled on this one. It won the 2004 Governor General's Award for Fiction,[15] It was selected as the 2006 book for Canada Reads, the first book by a female writer to be chosen.[16]

Liquor Licence Referendums[edit]

Since the 1970s, Steinbach has had 7 separate referenda on whether liquor sales should be allowed within the confines of the city; Steinbach citizens had voted in 1950 to prohibit all liquor sales.[17] In a local 2003 referendum, Steinbach residents narrowly voted to end liquor prohibition in the city, but passed only a dining room license, permitting alcohol to be sold and served only with sales of food. In 2007, the issue of serving alcohol in restaurant lounges was defeated by only 9 votes. In the same referendum, voters approved, by a slightly wider margin, allowing sports facilities such as the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Course to serve alcohol.[18] In February 2008, Steinbach Council voted in favor of opening a liquor store on Main Street, as prohibition had been lifted.[19] Eventually, the first liquor mart in Steinbach opened in March 2009, on PTH 12 North, operated by the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.[20]

The most recent public vote was held in October 2011.[17][21] In this referendum, voters agreed to accept, by a large margin, the following three licences: beverage rooms, cocktail lounges and private club licences.[22][23]

Continued growth[edit]

As the city continued to grow, in 2011 it was officially announced as Manitoba's third-largest city, with the release of the population data from the 2011 Canadian Census. The growth was attributed to immigration from such countries as Germany, Russia, and the Philippines.[24] Steinbach gained national recognition from such newspapers as the Globe and Mail, which described the city as an immigration "hotbed" of Canada and a model for immigrant integration.[7][25]

The first Steinbach Pride parade in 2016.

During March 2013 the city gained national attention for religious and social issues related to gay rights and religious freedom. The provincial NDP government had proposed Bill 18, which declared that all schools had to support certain types of student groups, specifically groups that "promote...all sexual orientations and gender identities".[26] Community members such as the Southland Community Church and the Steinbach Christian High School expressed concerns about having to support a Gay-straight alliance (GSA), in violation of their religious and cultural values. The issue turned into a much larger debate between religious freedom and gay rights issues, with several outspoken members of the community against the bill, while others supported it.[27][28] The Steinbach City Council passed a resolution asking the provincial government to review the issue.[29] In April, a student was granted permission to put up posters supporting a GSA at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS) public high school in the Hanover School Division. The school had not previously given this group the same privileges as other student groups.[30][31] On September 13, 2013 Bill 18 passed without amendments.[32]

The city continued to experience more conflict with the local LGBTQ community in 2016 with an appeal from a resident and her partner to include same-sex relationships as part of the school division's lessons around family diversity, this was rejected. Later that year a request from a lesbian student was put in to for diversity policies to better include LGBT people in the school division. The city gained national attention again based on the school division's response to the request after it too was denied.[33] These events led to the announcement of the city's first Steinbach Pride parade. While initially expecting about 200 people, approximately 3,000 people attended the event. This was brought about in part from the fact that not a single elected official from the area attended or endorsed the event.[34][35][36][37]

Ongoing rapid growth meant that the city needed more land and space in order to sustain itself. This led the city to negotiate an annexation of 7,300 acres (30 km2) from the R.M. of Hanover in 2015, which would have doubled the city from 6,000 acres (24 km2) to 13,600 acres (55 km2) in total land area. This would be the first major annexation for the city since 1979.[38] This plan was rejected by the provincial government, leading the Steinbach and Hanover to scale back the annexation to 2,800 acres (11 km2). As part of the annexation deal, Hanover no longer had to abide by a mile and half buffer zone with Steinbach, and could now build right up to the city's borders.[38] This paved the way for neighbouring communities like Mitchell, Manitoba to be able to take advantage of development opportunities for their own growth.


A barley field west of Steinbach, and an example of the flat topography of the surrounding area

Steinbach is located on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, and is also located directly east of the Red River Valley. Because of this the topography around Steinbach is extremely flat and the soil very fertile.[39] Due to higher levels of precipitation received than in the areas of western Manitoba, the natural prairie of Steinbach is defined as tallgrass prairie. Some of this original prairie can still be viewed at the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve south of the city near Vita. The areas to the west and north of Steinbach are defined as flat tallgrass prairie, and part of the Lake Manitoba Plain. The areas south and west of the city progress steadily into treed Aspen segments, eventually growing into Sandilands Provincial Forest and the large boreal forest region extending east and north of the city.

Steinbach is close to many Canadian Shield lakes, such as those located in Whiteshell Provincial Park and the Lake of the Woods in Kenora. Lake Winnipeg (the Earth's 11th largest freshwater lake) is located north of the city.[40] Although no rivers flow through Steinbach, the city is sandwiched by the Seine River to the north and the Rat River to the south. Both are tributaries of the Red River, which flows into Lake Winnipeg.


The headquarters for the Steinbach Credit Union

As the economic centre of Southeastern Manitoba, service/retail industries employ the majority of the working population. Large manufacturing plants, especially those operated by Valeant and Loewen Windows (which is also based in Steinbach), create a significant number of jobs. Steinbach has a diversity of jobs and industries within the community. Its rapid growth rate, combined with the lowest taxes in the province by mill rate, has made the community an increasingly popular place for both workers and employers.[42] This combination has helped many different mid-sized and large-sized businesses in manufacturing, transportation, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, retail, and financial services such as the Steinbach Credit Union, to grow with the city.[42] As a result, the city of Steinbach now has the third-highest assessment value among cities in the province, trailing only Brandon and Winnipeg.[42]

Agriculture, the traditional industry in the region, continues to play a significant role in Steinbach's economy as well. The agricultural industry in the area is notable for many of the large commercial pig, and poultry farming operations.[43] Aside from intensive pig and chicken barns there are numerous small, family, dairy farms that dot the area.[44] Crops grown on the fertile farmland surrounding Steinbach primarily include canola, corn, alfalfa, as well as barley, soybeans, oats, and wheat.[44][45][46][47]


Population Growth[48][49]
Year Pop. ±%
1951 2,155 —    
1961 3,739 +73.5%
1971 5,197 +39.0%
1981 6,676 +28.5%
1986 7,473 +11.9%
1991 8,213 +9.9%
1996 8,478 +3.2%
2001 9,227 +8.8%
2006 11,066 +19.9%
2011 13,524 +22.2%
2016 15,829 +17.0%

Steinbach had a population of 15,829 people in 2016, which was an increase of 17% from the 2011 census count. This places Steinbach as the 3rd largest city in Manitoba in 2016. The average age of people in Steinbach is 35.0, below the provincial average of 38.1, while 52% of the population are female and 48% are male.[50]

Steinbach residents primarily claim German ancestry, though this may include those from Germany itself or of Mennonite background, which would more accurately be described as Dutch. 30% of Steinbach residents claim German as their mother tongue, which includes both High German and Low German, while nearly 80% of those with a second language claim knowledge of the German languages.[51] As a whole, 39% of residents claim some mother tongue other than the official languages of French and English.[50] Steinbach has a high immigrant population of 15% or about 1,660 people, this is slightly above the provincial average of 13%.[51]

Census data from 2001 shows that Steinbach has a higher than average rate of religious affiliation of 90.26%, which is above the provincial average of 81.34%.[52] Of those with a religious affiliation, 61.42% are Protestant, 9.35% are Catholic and 24.53% belong to another Christian denomination.[52] 3.87% belong to either Buddhism, Islam, or Hinduism. In the total population surveyed, 9.74% claim no religious affiliation.[52]

The median household income in 2005 for Steinbach was $44,486, which is below the Manitoba provincial average of $47,875.[50]

Ethnic Groups[edit]

Ethnic Origins[2]
Population Percentage
German 6,275 39.62
Canadian 4,290 27.10
Russian 2,550 16.11
Dutch 1,935 12.22
English 1,555 9.82
Ukrainian 1,525 9.63
Filipino 1,105 7.11
Scottish 1,030 6.50
Visible minority and Aboriginal population [53]
Population group Population (2011) % of total population (2011)
European 11,465 87%
Visible minority group South Asian 130 1%
Chinese 25 0.2%
Black 120 0.9%
Filipino 585 4.4%
Latin American 35 0.3%
Arab 0 0%
Southeast Asian 105 0.8%
West Asian 0 0%
Korean 25 0.2%
Japanese 0 0%
Visible minority, n.i.e. 25 0.2%
Multiple visible minorities 20 0.2%
Total visible minority population 1,065 8.1%
Aboriginal group First Nations 200 1.5%
Métis 390 3%
Inuit 0 0%
Aboriginal, n.i.e. 40 0.3%
Multiple Aboriginal identities 25 0.2%
Total Aboriginal population 655 5%
Total population 13,185 100%


Steinbach City Hall

Steinbach is represented by 6 councilors and a mayor.[54] The city is a single-tier municipality, governed by a mayor-council system, the mayor and council are elected every four years. The current mayor is Chris Goertzen, who has been mayor since 2006.[55]

Currently the city is represented federally by the Conservative Party of Canada and provincially by the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. Steinbach is represented in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly by MLA Kelvin Goertzen for the riding of Steinbach since 2003, while federally the city is part of the Provencher riding and represented by MP Ted Falk since 2013.

Infrastructure and public services[edit]


East Main Street

Steinbach is unique in that there are no railways or rivers passing through town, so transportation to and from Steinbach has always been via road. The city is located approximately 50 kilometers southeast of Winnipeg, in a direct line. There are two principal highways serving the city, Provincial Trunk Highways (PTH) 12 and 52, which intersect at downtown Steinbach. Travelers coming from Winnipeg can take the Trans-Canada Highway (PTH 1) east for 40 kilometers, turning south at PTH 12 and continuing for 20 kilometers. This entire route consists of four-lane limited-access highways. Alternatively, travelers can also take PTH 59 south from Winnipeg and then take PTH 52 east to Steinbach. PTH 12 south from Steinbach is single-lane and ends at the American border at Sprague. Steinbach is situated on an alternate route between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Ontario which is named MOM's Way.


The City of Steinbach owns and maintains a federally licensed airport (Steinbach Airport). The main runway is 914 m in length by 23 m in width (3000 ft x 75 ft) and has an asphalt surface. The runway is serviced with lighting and a beacon for night-time use. Fuel and servicing are available on site and are provided through the Steinbach Flying Club. The airport also features aircraft tie-downs, a heated lounge building and restroom facilities.

Additionally, Harv's Air Service operates a private airfield to the south of the city (Steinbach (South) Airport). The main runway is 945 m in length by 30 m in width (3100 ft x 100 ft) and has an asphalt and turf surface. An additional runway measuring 559 m in length by 30 m in width (1835 ft x 100 ft) intersects the main runway to the north.


Health for the city and surrounding area is governed by the Southern Regional Health Authority. Acute care and emergency services are provided by the Bethesda Regional Health Centre, one of four (RHA) hospitals in the region.


Steinbach has had a public library since 1973, although serious efforts to establish a regional library began in 1968 when Mary Barkman organized a Friends of the Library group. In 1997, the library moved into its own newly constructed building and was renamed Jake Epp Library.[56] Jake Epp, former MP of Provencher, had appointed the very first Library Board in 1973. Mary Barkman, a key figure in the founding of the Library, was also honored at the opening ceremony. A major library expansion was completed in 2012.[57][58]


Steinbach Regional Secondary School with its new structure completed in 2013.

Steinbach is part of the Hanover School Division, which is one of the 37 school divisions in Manitoba. This is also the largest school division outside of the city of Winnipeg.[59] The school system in Manitoba is dictated by the province through the Manitoba Public Schools Act. Public schools follow a provincially mandated curriculum in either French or English.

The schools in Steinbach consist of three Early Years Elementary Schools: Woodlawn, Southwood and Elmdale which provide education from kindergarten through Grade 4. Grades 5 through 8 are currently provided by 2 newly formed Middle Schools: Stonybrook Middle School (formerly Steinbach Junior High School) and Clearspring Middle School (established 2012).[60] Steinbach Regional Secondary School provides Grades 9 through 12 for Steinbach and the surrounding region. Steinbach Christian Schools, a private school, offers all grades (Kindergarten – Grade 12), and shares a campus with Steinbach Bible College. Steinbach has a post-secondary learning campus called Eastman Education Centre, which offers courses from Red River College, University of Winnipeg, Assiniboine Community College and Providence College.[61]


Steinbach's oldest media outlet is the Carillon News, an award-winning weekly newspaper that covers the news of Southeastern Manitoba. Steinbach also has three radio stations run by Golden West Broadcasting: AM 1250 is an easy listening station, Mix 96.7 FM plays current and classic hits, and CJXR-FM is a country station. The Daily Bonnet, a website that publishes satirical Russian Mennonite news stories , is also based in Steinbach.

Sports and recreation[edit]

Ice hockey[edit]

Steinbach's T.G. Smith Centre is home to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Steinbach Pistons. The Steinbach Huskies senior hockey club has been a fixture in the local hockey scene since the 1920s and currently plays in the Carillon Senior Hockey League. The Junior Huskies are eight-time champions of the Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League. Steinbach's minor hockey teams are known as the Steinbach Millers.

Steinbach gained national attention when it hosted the 2009 Allan Cup, the Canadian senior 'AAA' hockey championship. Competing in the tournament were two Steinbach-based teams, the host Steinbach North Stars and the Manitoba champion South East Prairie Thunder. The Prairie Thunder qualified for the championship game, which was broadcast nationally on TSN, but lost in double overtime. Three years later, the Prairie Thunder captured their first ever national title at the 2012 Allan Cup. The Prairie Thunder also hosted the 2016 Allan Cup in Steinbach.[62]

The Steinbach Huskies qualified for the 1979 Allan Cup finals as Western Canadian champions, but lost the best-of-seven series 4–1.


Soccer is becoming increasingly popular, with more children in the city's soccer program than in any other sport.[citation needed] The men's Hanover Kickers play in Manitoba's Premier League Two, the Hanover Strikers play in Major League Two of Manitoba Major Soccer League, and the Hanover Hype playing in the Winnipeg Women's Soccer League. The city also has a Futsal league that operates during the winter.[63] The city's main soccer complex was built in 2009.

Canadian football[edit]

The Eastman Raiders football club, based in Steinbach, was formed in 1991. There are now over 260 athletes, ranging in age from 7 to 22, playing in the Raiders program .[64] In 2009, the Eastman Raiders midget team captured their first championship with a 20–9 victory over the St Vital Mustangs.[65]


Steinbach Curling Club and the Keystone Cinema in the background.

The "Steinbach Fly-in Golf Club" provides an 18-hole golf course adjacent to the local airport. The various features and hazards surrounding the holes include a meandering creek, strategically placed trees, bunkers, bridges, and varying inclines. In the winter months, the golf course becomes the site of a groomed ski trail,[66] courtesy of the regional cross-country ski club, the Sandilands Ski Club.[67][68] The Village Green Restaurant, located at the club house, is open year-round with a licensed dining room. "The Links at Quarry Oaks" is another golf course located just northeast of Steinbach. This 27-hole course has Manitoba's only inland Links-style layout, and includes the Oak nine, Quarry nine, and the Desert nine. In total, there are five golf courses within a ten-minute drive of Steinbach.


The Steinbach Curling Club opened in October 2014 and is located adjacent to the T.G. Smith Centre. It has five sheets and hosts a variety of different leagues, including a successful junior program.[69] The current rink replaced the previous one that was built in 1948 and located across the street.[70]

A number of Steinbach curlers have gone on to have success at the provincial level. Steinbach has also hosted two Safeway Select Provincial Men's Curling Championships (2006 and 2010).

Notable people[edit]




Arts and literature[edit]


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External links[edit]