But before we get to that, we should give you some background. The Hutterites arrived in North America to escape military and religious persecution in western Russia. They arrived in three separate groups from 1874 to 1879, and all groups originally settled in the North Dakota area of the United States.
But the Hutterites refuse to participate in war. And they don't believe in paying taxes to support any kind of war. And they don't believe in conscription, so when World War I came along, they had a problem.
"We reply that we do not wish to resist the government. Far be it from us to resist what is neither against God nor our conscience... However where the government or power expects something beyond the order of God and its demands... such as taxes in war and similar things which contribute to the destruction of men, then... we must obey God more than man."
Jacob Hutter (ca.1535) in Klaassen, p. 252
The country of Canada offered them freedom of worship, as well as freedom from military service in exchange for developing the land. As of 1918, some 50 families had emigrated to Canada.
Now, there are approximately 30,000 Hutterites living in Canada. The 346 colonies are concentrated in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
There are also about 50 colonies in Montana and Washington.
The first colony we visited is located only 22 kms (13 miles) from the park. We knew of it's existence, but we didn't know exactly where it was located. It's called the Pennant Colony, and it's a fairly new colony. It took three years to build, and it became an operational colony in 2002.
The little blue car at Pennant Colony.
A couple here at the park arranged our visit for us. The Hutterites are by nature friendly and accommodating and don't mind showing outsiders around and talking about their way of life. We were introduced to Debbie as our tour guide, a Hutterite woman about our age. I asked if we could take photos, and she said sure, but she didn't want a photo of herself taken!
The first thing we noticed is that everything is spotless. I mean, neat, clean, and organized. In fact, you wouldn't know that everything is 14 years old...it all looks like it was brand new yesterday.
There are 11 families living here, and a total of 55 people. The colony was designed and built for 100 people, and it will grow to that point eventually. As a colony grows to more than 100 people, plans are made to branch off and over time a new colony will be built.
The first place she led us was to the main building that contains the dining hall, the kitchen, and the church.
Ruth in the dining hall.
The men sit on one side, and the women on the other. There is a separate room for children. Children at this colony are allowed to join the adults at age 14. Breakfast is served at 7:00am, lunch at 12:00pm and dinner at 6:00pm. They go to a short 1/2 hour church service every day before dinner.
Everything is top quality commercial equipment. And like I said, everything is spotless.
The bread oven.
We were walking from the main building to the schoolhouse when we came across a group of youngsters. Two of them are sisters and so are the other three.
But one of them was shy. You can see the top of her head in the background!
At the schoolhouse, there are only six students. And only one child in kindergarten. Our guide Debbie is actually the kindergarten teacher and she said that its not the best situation to have only one child in the class.
Classes are run by the local school board and they follow the same curriculum as the pubic schools do from grade 1 through to grade 10. The teacher is also supplied by the school board, although the colony supplies a German teacher. School ends at grade 10 (around age 15) when the student then is assigned a job in the colony.
Their home language is German, and they are only taught English as they grow up. Therefore, most people including our guide speak very good English, but with a German accent.
We were then led to the farm buildings. The Hutterites have embraced mechanical technology when farming, and again everything is the best of the best and very high tech. They grow all of their own food, and breed all of the poultry, beef, and pork.
They grow so much food, that they sell most of it. This is where the majority of their income comes from.
Straight from the beehive!
What we didn't know, is that now that we know Debbie and we have her phone number, we can stop by all through the season and buy fresh produce...including chickens and eggs. A dozen eggs are only $1.75 CAD...far better than the going price at the stores which is around $2.50 CAD per dozen.
We've been here three years and never knew we could do this!
The bags are marked potatoes...but they are filled with onions!
Debbie and Ruth. Debbie didn't want her photo taken.
She led us over to the shoe making shop. They call it that, but they don't actually do much shoe making anymore. Debbie's 82 year old father was there to show us around. Because when he got out of school many years ago, he was taught how to be the shoemaker and that was his job at the time. Now, he makes gloves "mostly to keep myself out of trouble" he says.
The different types of gloves made by the 82 year old father.
Next, we made our way to the welding and metalwork shop, and the woodworking shop. The men are all out working the harvest right now, so nobody was working in the shops.
The welding shop.
The woodworking shop.
Again, the best equipment. The shops are apparently much busier in the middle of winter.
Wow...what a tour! Seems that the Hutterites sure aren't lacking for anything.
We haven't yet talked about economics though. The colonies are essentially communes. Everything is shared, and everything belongs to the colony. Everybody is given an allowance for clothing and personal items based on need.
At this particular colony there are no televisions, no musical instruments (although they do a lot of singing) and travel? Nope, unless it's to visit and socialize with another colony. I asked Debbie where she has been, and they have traveled to both Montana and Alberta to visit other colonies. I asked if she would like to visit Germany (since they speak German) and she said "What for? We wouldn't know what to do there? There aren't any colonies in Germany.".
They have only had internet installed at this colony last year. But it is for the most part blocked, and is only used for the betterment of the colony. Mostly related to farming and how to make things more efficient.
But we learned that the Pennant Colony is a very strict colony. All colonies operate a little bit differently, and the rules do vary among colonies.
Tomorrow, we'll tell you about the second colony we visited. Very different!
For our pet loving readers...this seat protector is a great idea!
BarksBar Pet Car Seat Cover With Seat Anchors for Cars, Trucks, and Suv's - Black, WaterProof & NonSlip Backing
And in Canada, a great deal on the new Black and Decker hand vacuum...almost half price!