While the Hutterites will divide a colony and establish another when the old one becomes too large, they do not often sell and move to an entirely new location. The Rocky View colony, only 45 minutes north of Calgary, near Crossfield, Alberta, had no choice.
The colony owned about 1,000 hectares of land (2500 acres), which is not enough to allow sufficient agricultural production for a growing population. The Hutterites were unable to buy additional property since they were too close to the expanding metropolitan region. They searched for, and found, a 5,260 hectare (13,000 acres) tract in the prairie two hours south of Calgary, between Champion and Claresholm, two-thirds of the way to Lethbridge, Alberta.
Since the new location is farther from the mountains, their home is now called the “Shadow Ranch Colony.” Manager Ed Hofer explains that the view of the Rockies is no more, so they adopted the new name “because if you are here in the morning, or late in the afternoon, you will see a great shadow fall across the land. The shadow blends into the scenery. The sun is low and the light is beautiful.”
The 61 members of the colony moved last summer at this time to their new location. They’ve been working hard to construct their new home. Buildings for housing, the communal kitchen, a colony school, the church, a feed lot, and a dairy barn have already been built. And of course, they put in their crops in the spring. The men have planted over half the land to wheat, barley, peas, and the yellow canola fields that are such a landmark for visitors to the Alberta prairies in the summertime. They’ve also started chicken and diary operations.
A reporter from the Calgary Herald, Kim Gray, spoke with Leah Hofer, a cousin to the colony manager, who admitted that she had recently visited the former property over a hundred kilometers away. A nostalgia trip. “I wanted to see what it felt like. I mean, you lived there. And now you’re just gone from there. You have a ‘home’ feeling, but it’s not your home any more,” she said.
She gave the journalist a tour of the new vegetable and fruit gardens. “Nothing in life is as good as fresh vegetables,” she said, a sentiment that would be echoed by most country dwellers worldwide. Leah expressed confidence that the soil under their new colony is good, judging by how well their gardens are growing this summer. Her five year old daughter Darlene appeared to agree, as she dove into a patch of peas, picked some, and stashed them into her apron.
“I totally don’t worry about nothing no more,” Leah commented. “You’re settled. You take one day at a time and you enjoy.” George Webber, a noted Alberta photographer from Calgary, accompanied Kim Gray in the visit to the new colony. Webber gained a lot of local publicity after he chronicled the life of another Alberta colony, the Little Bow, and then recorded its forced move due to the construction of a dam. His book, A World Within: An Intimate Portrait of the Little Bow Hutterite Colony, is popular in Alberta.