Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
14 THE UTHBRIDGE HERALD Thuwdoy, June 7, 1973 Hutterites Southern Alberta Part 2 of a 4-part special report The simple life By GBEG McINTYKE Herald Staff Writer In 1932 about 70 Hutterites from Alexandria, South Da- kota settled on acres cast of Magrath. There were already a handful of colonies in the area since Hutterites started settling in Alberta following a wave of persecution in the United States in 1918. The religious sect, which practises pacifism and com- munal living, had been ha- rassed in the U.S. because they refused military ser- vice in the First World War. Military exemption was granted by the Canadian government. Today the Hutterville Col- ony east cf Magrath has ex- panded its land holdings to 7.200 acres and consists of about 90 people. It has expanded twice, es- tablishing a daughter colony at Etzikoro, southwest cf Medicine Hat, in 1952 and another at Castor, west of Red Deer, in 1965. With one of the best metal- work shops in the province and a highly mechanized mixed farming operation, the Hutterville Colony is typical of a modern Alberta Hutterite colony. A simple, sparse life style coupled with efficient farm- ing aEows investment in land and other capital items. Colonies must expand. With a Mgh birth rate and a low death rate, Alberta's Hutterite population doubles every 17 to 20 years. When a colony reaches 110 to 150 persons, the elders find five to 10 sections of good farmland, more if the land is poor, on which to es- tablish a daughter colony. Families in the parent col- ony divide into two groups and the group to move to the new location is chosen by lot. Alberta's more than 80 colonies occupy roughly one per cent of the province's ar- able land. They are among the prov- ince's most productive farm- ers. The average income tax paid by adult Hutterites in 1971 was S300 consider- ably higher than the Alberta farm average, according to a report by a provincial government rommittee. The Hutterites are dryland occupying very little irrigated land. Irriga- tion is too technical and risky, they say. The colony is communal in the production, distribu- tion and consumption of all goods and services. There is no idea of pri- vate property and no sys- tem of inheritance in a col- ony. When someone dies his goods are distributed among the members, and even per- sonal belongings like cloth- ing are regarded as property of the Hutterian Brethren Church, to be used but not possessed. The first goal is to pro- duce food for the colony. Main crops are wheat, barley, with some rapeseed and flax. Most colonies in the prov- ince produce enough to sell eggs, poultry, milk, beef, pork, geese, ducks as well as grain. Colonies tend to be ex- tremely diverse, even if this is not the most profitable type of farm operation. Diversity permits an in- dividual to become a "boss" of one part of the operation. In addition to a business manager, a preacher and a German teacher, each col- ony usually has a cattle boss, hog boss, chicken boss, duck boss, blacksmith, carpenter, mechanic, shoe maker, head cook, garden woman and kindergarten teachers. Diversification and sim- plicity limit the size of a col- ony, hence the need to split to form daughter colonies. For instance, a cow calf operation would not be allowed to grow so large it would consume the entire grain crop. Instead, the grain pro- duced would normally be shared by three or four op- erations in the colony. Simplicity is evident in all parts of the Hutterite way of life. Yet there are numerous labor saving devices, like automatic livestock feeding equipment, milking equip- ment, bread slicers. laundry facilities, stoves, ovens and freezers. Like many modern col- onies, the Hutterville Colony has a large reserve power plant to produce electricity to keep fans in the hog and chicken barns and other equipment operating in case of a power failure. Clothing and utensils are all home- made, although stylish patterns and other worldy trappings have shown up in recent years. Hutterites live in single- storey apartment buildings with two to five rooms to a family depending on the number of children. The entire colony eats to- gether. Men and women eat at separate tables in a large central dining hall with kitchen. Many colonies have a com- bination school-church build- ing, although some have a separate one room school. There is a kindergarten and often a teacherage. In addition to barns and other buildings, the Hutter- ville Colony has a well- equipped carpentry shop and six-bay garage. The colony fleet includes 13 tractors, five combines, four three-ton trucks, a 12- RICK ERVIN photos Hutterville colony Girls dining, above. Right, colony geese boss Andrew Wurtz. Immediately below, colony black- smith Jake Wipf and observer. Below, the colony cattle operation and part of the colony machinery fleet. passenger van, two other utility trucks, a four-wheel drive vehicle, a bailer and numerous other motorized and specialty equipment. The blacksmith-sheet met- al shop is as good as any in the surrounding communi- ties of Cardston, Magrath o.- Raymond and equal most in Lethbridge. Jake Wipf, the blacksmith, said he couldn't possibly handle all the work gener- ated by the colony and neighbors. Colony life centres around religion. Prayers are said before and after meals. A half-hour church service is conducted each evening and twice on Sunday. Education is considered useful as long as it serves the spirit. Children begin kindergar- ten at about years, Ger- man school at 6 and public school at 7. Religious instruction is in German -taught by the col- ony teacher usually an hour before and after English school. The English school is run by local school division. In most cases the colony builds the school while the school division supplies the teacher. Because there are current- ly only 18 school children at the Hutterville Colony, and the school division requires a minimum class size of 25, the colony pays a supple- mental requisition, which amounted to last year. Children leave school at 15 and begin an apprenticeship, usually working in the field until there is an opening In one of the special farm op- erations. A child becomes a full adult with voting rights fol- lowing baptism at age 19 to 21. Colonies do not accept any form of welfare. They pay taxes, are enrolled in Alber- ta Health Care and make use of local hospitals and clinics. Hutterites are subject to the same government rules and regulation.', as other Al- bertans.