‘Schilstra’ Clock

Mandtler Clock no. 303, 1905. Mennonite Heritage Village 1966.7000.348 (MC0218)

The Kroegers were not the only ones to mass-produce clocks. The second Gerhard Mandtler (1855–1930) built his own factory in Lindenau, which was held in much the same esteem as the Kroeger factory at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Mandtlers also seem to have standardised their clocks by this time, as this design is typical of later Mandtler dials. They used decals for their spandrels, but continued to hand-paint their arch designs and kept their dials flat. The Kroegers and Mandtlers must have used the same source for decals, as the decals on this clock are also found on Kroeger clocks. The Mandtlers ceased manufacturing clocks around the time of the Russian Revolution (1918–1921). Gerhard Mandtler was the last Mandtler clockmaker.

History

Donated to Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada by P.J. Reimer as a part of the Garth Reimer Estate in 1997. This clock belonged to the Schilstra family, who were of Dutch and British ancestry. It was likely given to them by a Mennonite client in lieu of payment.

Drs. Alexander J. (1872–1962) and Anna McConnell Schilstra (1871–1942) were the first licensed medical doctors in the Steinbach area. They moved there from Gretna in 1909 and stayed for two years until they moved to British Columbia in 1911. They returned to Steinbach following the First World War. 

Alexander acted as the first Health Officer of the Hanover Municipality from about 1918 to 1936. Anna was also a trained medical doctor and practised medicine under her husband's licence, often assisting him as a consultant and anaesthetist. She was much in demand for her services in the areas of childbirth and childcare. Whereas her husband was known to be rough and demanding, Anna was remembered for her kindness.

They had two children, Marie (1906–1989) and Urquhart (1908–1986). Marie’s education was halted when she needed to drop out of the University of Manitoba, reportedly due to mental-health issues. She lived with her parents until they passed away and likely took over the ownership of the family home until her death. Urquhart married Lillian Poleson of St. Boniface (1914–1972), moved to Toronto, and became a Hawaiian steel-guitar virtuoso by the stage name of Uncle Tom Alexander. He did not get along with his father and only reconciled with him after his mother's death in 1942. He died on a Toronto golf course in 1986.

The Schilstra property was purchased by Garth Reimer after Marie’s death in 1989. Reimer demolished the home, but not before saving many of the Schilstras’ personal effects. His estate donated these to the Mennonite Heritage Village after his death in 1997.

 

  • Description Thirty-hour wall clock with pendulum and weight-driven movement, made by Gerhard Mandtler (1855–1930) in Lindenau, Russian Empire (now Ukraine) in 1899, serial number 303. Arched dial is green with a single yellow border around the perimeter and running across the arch. Arch has a yellow hand-painted decorative scroll in the centre, and the numbers ‘19’ and ‘05’ painted on either side. Spandrels are gold scroll decals with red centres. Black chapter ring with yellow Roman numerals, white inner ring with Arabic numerals for the calendar, and white outer ring marking the quarter hour. Three hands; bell and calendar functions; chain drive; four weights.

  • Mennonite Clock Number MC0218

  • Object Name Mandtler Clock

  • Serial Number 303

  • Mennonite Heritage Village Accession Number 1966.7000.348

  • Date Created 1905

  • Maker Gerhard Mandtler (1855–1930)

  • Location Made Lindenau, Molotschna Colony, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)

  • Dial Form Arched dial

  • Face Design Motifs Scroll design

  • DesignType Hand-painted

  • Type of Hands Brass

  • Number of Hands 3

  • Drive Chain

  • Weights 4

  • Other Markings 1905 N 303 (stamped on mechanism); G.M. (stamped on the back of the face)

  • Height 51.0 cm Width 35.5 cm Depth 17.7 cm (measurements are approximate)

  • Owner Mennonite Heritage Village

  • Publications Arthur Kroeger, ‘Kroeger Clocks’ (Steinbach, MB: Mennonite Heritage Village, 2012), page 95.

 

This clock displays the hour, minute, and the date. The simplicity or complexity of a clock does not necessarily indicate if a clock was made in an earlier or later period. Some clocks dating back to the 1800s are as complicated as the Shilstra Clock, whose complex mechanism is shown in the photograph above.


 

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