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Hutterites are the most radical group of Anabaptists still in existence. Anabaptists are members of 16th century (1500s) Protestant movements that rejected infant baptism, and insisted that adults be rebaptized. They are allied with the Mennonites and Amish, who also practice adult baptism, but the Hutterite doctrine follows strictly a passage from Acts 2:44: "And all that believed were together, and had all things in common." A strong Hutterite belief is that absolute and eternal authority comes from God and those that would follow Him must give up the transitory nature of worldly living in order to reflect His spiritual permanence. Man's natural rebelliousness is given expression outside of the colony, which is afflicted with countless social problems and individual misery, but communal living - hierarchical, disciplined, and conservative - leads man closer to God. That is why Hutterites live together on communes away from the cities and all their evils.

Hutterite settlers first began arriving in Alberta from the United States in 1918, where they were being pressured, against their beliefs, to join the war effort. They are pacifists which means they don't believe in violence. The Hutterites' preservation of a communal, conservative, and pacifist lifestyle meant that they sought exemption from public office or military service, and educated their children through an independent school system. The terms of an 1899 agreement between Hutterites and the Canadian government seemed to support this lifestyle, but the contract has not always gone uncontested. Popular opinion in Alberta, as elsewhere, has both supported or condemned Hutterites for their unique way of life.

Jakob Huter formed the Hutterite sect in 1528 in opposition to war and war taxes. Their collective way of living and religious nonconformity angered the authorities, and, in 1536, Huter was arrested and burnt at the stake. Nasty! From that point on the Hutterites moved all over Europe trying to avoid persecution for their beliefs - from Hungary, to Russia and eventually to the United States in 1874. The Hutterite history in Alberta has also not been without hardship. Their agreement with Canada was reassuring, but the moves to Alberta between 1918 and 1920 were undertaken by many colonies at a considerable loss. Five Lehrerleut and four Dariusleut colonies (named after founders Lehrer and Darius) moved into southern Alberta, either between Magrath and Cardston, or just northeast of Calgary. Land agents had assembled land in the area, but the first years of settlement were particularly difficult for the displaced settlers. The establishment of communal living patterns entailed erecting a familiar pattern of buildings, digging wells, and buying agricultural machinery and livestock.

To learn more about other cultural groups that settled in Alberta click here.

Hutterite colony, Stand Off, Alberta.  1920.

Hutterite colony, Stand Off, Alberta. 1920.

Hutterites at Ewelme Colony

Hutterites at Ewelme Colony