Hutterite children playing tag on straw bales under a rainbow at Spring Valley Colony after a rain shower on a warm August evening.

Children play tag on a pyramid of straw bales under a rainbow after a light rain shower on a warm August evening.

Spring Valley Colony - 2010

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In the world, but not of it.

2009 - Present


The Hutterites, an anabaptist religious group whose roots trace back to the 16th Century Reformation, live communally on colonies throughout western Canada and the northwestern United States. Their culture continues to be preserved through deliberate separation from mainstream society and economic self-sufficiency.

Despite a long history of persecution the Hutterites are currently in the midst of one of the most successful periods of the past 500 years. Facing no overt threats from the outside world they have prospered and grown to more than 45,000 members living on close to 500 colonies. This period of peace and prosperity has its challenges as well. There is a german expression that translates as “Good times have never yet made good Christians.” Some colony elders worry that too much prosperity will eat away at the fabric of their society and too much contact with the outside world will water down their culture.

Despite these challenges, the Hutterites continue to be the model for one of the most successful versions of communal living in modern history. Members take comfort in the knowledge that they will be provided for throughout their entire lives and live outside of the loneliness and isolation prevalent in the modern world.

The Hutterites are often either romanticized or denigrated as simple or backwards. The reality is that their society is very complex and no two colonies are the same. Each colony must decide how rigidly they cling to their traditions versus how much they adapt to the increasingly connected outside world. The minister for each colony is burdened with ensuring his flock stays on a path to godliness rather than worldliness. As Hutterite author Paul S. Gross wrote “We cannot please the world and God at the same time … Either we take this world with all it offers, including trouble, mental stress, sorrow, and death at the end; or else we take a better way.” 

A Hutterite girl holds an American Girl style doll in Hutterite doll clothes.

Nevada Waldner holds her American Girl style doll. Homemade clothes sewn by family members reflect the lives of the Hutterite girls that own them.

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A young Hutterite girl holds an American Girl style doll wearing a dress matching hers.

Katiana Waldner and her American Girl style doll wear matching dresses sewn by her mother Cheryl. The dolls are popular amongst young girls on some colonies and family members often sew traditional Hutterite clothing for the dolls so the girls can see representations of themselves and their lives in the dolls. 

Maple Grove Colony - 2016

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A Hutterite woman takes her horse for a swim in a pond at Baker Hutterite Colony in Manitoba

Hadassah Maendel takes Kahlua for a swim in the colony swimming hole at sunset on an August evening.

Baker Colony - 2016

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A Hutterite girl plays hockey on an outdoor rink at Acadia Colony in Manitoba.

Trisha Maendel waits for the puck while playing shinny with friends on the colony ice rink on a late December evening. The affluent colony has a warm-up hut and a zamboni for cleaning the ice.

Acadia Colony - 2011

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A Hutterite man runs through dust away from a combine during harvest.

Farm boss Jack Hofer runs through the dust and chaff spit out from a combine harvesting canola after throwing a pan under the machine to test for canola wastage. 

Deerboine Colony - 2018

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Two Hutterite men eat corn in a field.

Mel Hofer and Arthur Wurtz break for a quick supper while combining during harvest. 

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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A Hutterite boy holding a melon in the colony garden.

Liam Waldner in the colony garden during the melon harvest.

Deerboine Colony

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​Jack Hofer runs in to bleed out a hog after shooting it so it can be butchered for use on the colony.

Jack Hofer runs in to bleed out a hog after shooting it so it can be butchered for use on the colony. 

Deerboine Colony - 2018

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Two Hutterite men work to butcher chickens at their farm in Manitoba.

Justin and Kevin work in the killing plant butchering chickens. The job requires the majority of able-bodied members on the colony pitching in.

Deerbone Colony - 2015
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A Hutterite man poses for a portrait covered in blood after butchering chickens.

Justin Hofer after day two of butchering egg-laying chickens. Deerboine Colony along with Souris River Colony butchered approximately 11,000 chickens over two days. The work is hard and not particularly appetizing.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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Two Hutterite women ride in the back of a pickup truck on a colony in Manitoba.

Kristiane Hofer sends a text while riding in the back of a pickup truck with Angela Hofer. Texting is extremely popular on colonies where cellphones have been accepted to make farming and business more productive. Individual colonies make their own decisions about how much technology to allow in but their leaders are all aware and interested in how their fellow colonies are handling the issue.

Deerboine Colony - 2009

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A Hutterite woman rides the swings carnival ride at a summer fair.

Doria Waldner from Green Acres Colony rides the Ultimate Swings ride on the midway at the Manitoba Summer Fair in Brandon.

Green Acres Colony - 2018

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A portrait of a Hutterite woman in traditional clothing with bright pink headphones in her ears.

Michelle Wurtz

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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A portrait of a Hutterite boy.

Cameron Hofer.

Lajord Colony - 2017 (Dariusleut, Saskatchewan)

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Women sew quilts in a school gymnasium at Acadia Hutterite Colony.

Women sew quilts during a quilting bee in the school gymnasium. Volunteers from a variety of colony’s made approximately 700 quilts for Siloam Mission and Christian Aid Ministries.

Acadia Colony - 2016

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Two Hutterite students work on a school project at a computer at Odanah Colony in Manitoba.

Lenci Waldner and Trina Waldner work together on a school project using a laptop and the internet at Odanah Colony. It is easy for outsiders to generalize Hutterites but colonies are very diverse. Some colonies, especially amongst the Group 1 Schmiedeleuts have really embraced the use of digital technologies in the classroom and have sent their own members through post-secondary education so that they can teach on the colony. Other colonies have been much more wary of allowing in internet use. Each colony decides for itself what to allow but is keenly aware of what fellow colonies are doing. 

Odanah Colony - 2014

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Hutterites students are seen on the screen of an ITV education system.

Students from Maple Grove Colony are seen on the ITV system at Odanah Colony as they take a course taught by Adrian Hofer at Silverwinds Colony.

Odanah Colony - 2017

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A Hutterite woman looks at an exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Chantel Hofer studies an exhibit about the Holocaust at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba during a field trip for the colony school.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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A Hutterite woman takes the oath of canadian citizenship alongside other new canadians during a citizenship ceremony.

Rachel Hofer of Deerboine Colony takes the oath of Canadian citizenship amongst 149 other new Canadian citizens gaining citizenship during a special ceremony at the Manitoba Summer Fair in Brandon, Manitoba on Tuesday, June 7, 2017. Hofer married to Deerboine Colony from a colony in South Dakota. 

Deerboine Colony - 2017

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Three Hutterite women visit in their baptism outfits on a snowy day,

Chantel Hofer. Dahlia Wurtz and Junia Wurtz in their baptism dresses and jackets during baptism weekend.

Deerboine Colony

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A Hutterite man is seen through a window sitting in his living room waiting for the call to church at sunset.

Edwin Hofer sits in the living room of his home waiting for the call to church as dusk descends over the colony.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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​Light streams in through the blinds in a church at Lajord Colony in Saskatchewan.

Light streams in through the blinds in the church at Lajord Colony in Saskatchewan.

Lajord Colony - 2017 (Dariusleut, Saskatchewan)
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The german school teacher presides over prayer in the eating school as children kneel in prayer at their tables on a Hutterite Colony.

German school teacher Jonathan Hofer presides over prayer recited by one of his students after dinner in the essenschul (eating school) at Deerboine Colony. Kids between the ages of five and fifteen eat separately from the adults in the essenschul.

Deerboine Colony - 2017

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Two Hutterite girls pose for a photo wearing long hand-sewn dresses and downhill skis during a  day of downhill skiing.

Portrait of Trina and Telsa Waldner during a day of downhill skiing at Ski Valley in Minnedosa along with students from Spring Hill Colony. 

Odanah Colony - 2016

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A young Hutterite woman leaps over the high jump bar in her prairie dress during a track and field competition at a colony.

Clara Wollmann of Good Hope Hutterite Colony sails over the high jump bar during the annual Track and Field competition at the colony.

Good Hope Colony - 2017

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A Hutterite woman plays volleyball with friends.

Isabel Hofer plays with a volleyball with friends during a picnic in Portage la Prairie after an end-of-school field trip to Winnipeg. 

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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Hutterite women pick garlic together at sunrise on a foggy August morning in the large communal garden.

Women pick garlic together at sunrise on a foggy August morning in the large communal garden.

Deerboine Colony - 2010

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An elderly Hutterite couple say grace together after a meal in their home.

John and Ruth Waldner give thanks after he helped her with her lunch at their kitchen table. Ruth has dementia and John spends most of his day caring for her.

Deerboine Colony - 2013

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Flowers lie on top of a grave in a cemetery at a Hutterite colony in Manitoba.
Flowers were placed on top of Annie Basel's grave and hymns were sung after she was laid to rest in Deerboine Colony's cemetery following the wake and funeral. As is tradition the grave is dug by hand.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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Hutterite women help serve lunch at a soup kitchen in Brandon, Manitoba.

Women from Maple Grove Colony volunteer their time to serve lunch at the Helping Hands Centre soup kitchen in Brandon. Colony members also made many of the dishes that were served during the lunch.

Maple Grove Colony - 2018

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A Hutterite woman takes a practical test for a nursing course at a local university.
Phoebe Wurtz of Oak River Colony completes simulation testing for one of the courses in her Health Studies program at Brandon University. Phoebe and three other Hutterite women from the group one side of the Schmiedeleut sect were the first Hutterite women to go to university off the colony to study nursing.
Oak River Colony - 2011
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A Hutterite woman studies in the library of Brandon University.

Sandra Glanzer of Fordham Colony in South Dakota studies in the library at Brandon University for one of her courses in the Faculty of Education program. Many Group One Schmiedeleut colonies are sending their own members to university so they can teach on the colony.

Brandon, Manitoba - 2017

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Hutterite students sit at old style school desks during class at the colony school.

Students at Hillcrest Colony listen to their english teacher during a lesson. 

Hillcrest Colony - 2017 (Dariusleut, Saskatchewan)

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A portrait of a Hutterite woman in church attire.

Portrait of Tilly Wurtz after church. 

Deerboine Colony - 2013

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Hutterite men shoot guns over the Assiniboine river in Manitoba at sunset.

Clay shooting over the Assiniboine River at sunset on a warm summer evening. 

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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A Hutterite woman swims in her dress with an inflatable tube in the colony swimming hole.

Kaitlyn Wurtz swims in the colony swimming hole, fed by a spring.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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A woman rides a horse and jumps it over a barrel in a paddock at sunset.

Kelly Waldner leaps over a barrel atop Kia while training with the horse on a warm April evening. 

Baker Colony - 2016.


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A Hutterite woman does a headstand as a cat walks by.

Hadassah Maendel practices headstands at Baker Colony. Maendel has learned a variety of yoga poses and CrossFit routines from Instagram. 

Baker Colony - 2016 

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Hutterite men and women socialize during a farewell party for a woman moving to a new colony.

Colony members pile into Mike and Grace's living room during the farewell party for Deborah the night before she leaves to marry into Forest River Colony.

Deerboine Colony - 2013

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Geese parade around a pen at a farm on a Hutterite colony in Manitoba.

Geese at Pine Creek Colony.

Pine Creek Colony - 2017
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A Hutterite man checks the load in a grain truck on a colony in Saskatchewan.

Hillcrest Hutterite Colony Second Minister Mike Wollman checks on a load in a grain truck during seeding at the colony south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Hillcrest Colony - 2017 (Dariusleut, Saskatchewan)
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A Hutterite woman puts a piece of wheat in her niece's hair in a field of wheat.

Chantel Hofer puts a blade of wheat in the hair of her two-year-old niece Anabelle in one of the colony's fields during harvest.

Deerboine Colony - 2015

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Hutterite men watch a building burn down during a fire on a colony.

Young men watch the colony wood shop burn from the warmth of a nearby building in late November. 

Deerboine Colony - 2010

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A Hutterite man chases a cow through the snow on a colony in Manitoba.

Josh Wurtz chases a cow through the snow on the colony after the cow escaped from the dairy operation.

Deerboine Colony - 2017
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A Hutterite man works in a metal fabrication shop in Manitoba.
Johannes Waldner in the metal fabrication shop.

Maple Grove Colony - 2017

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Portrait of a Hutterite minister in traditional plaid shirt and suspenders.

Arnold Hofer, Minister at Acadia Colony and Altester, Bishop of the Schmiedeleut (Group 1) Hutterites. 

Acadia Colony - 2017

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The dining room of a Hutterite colony in Saskatchewan.
The tables are set for lunch in the communal dining room. Men sit together on one side of the dining room and women sit together on the other side.

Lajord Colony - 2017 (Dariusleut, Saskatchewan)

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Two Hutterite twin sisters wearing matching outfits pose for a photo in an orchard on the colony.

Twin sisters Kayla and Kelly Waldner. 

Baker Colony - 2016

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Hutterite women play hockey in their billowing dresses against a town team at a local arena.

Her dress billows as Judith Maendel plays the puck during a charity hockey game in MacGregor, Manitoba between Hutterite women and the local town team, the Iron Maidens, in 2016. The women’s Hutterite team, made up of players from Baker, Maple Grove, Oak River and other colonies, rarely even gets a chance to practice together but has come out on top in the majority of their annual matches against the Iron Maidens.

MacGregor - 2016

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A Hutterite woman works out in a colony gym.

Hadassah Maendel works out in the new gym. Interest in physical fitness has grown on some colonies as technology and affluence push members into less physically demanding lifestyles.

Baker Colony - 2017 

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A Hutterite woman works out in a colony gym.

Hadassah Maendel climbs a rope while doing CrossFit in the colony gym. 

Baker Colony - 2017

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A young Hutterite woman lifts her dress to display the henna tattoo of a tree that she designed on her leg.

A young Hutterite woman lifts her dress to display the henna tattoo of a tree that she designed on her leg. The non-permanent tattoo would still be considered controversial by elders on the colony. Personal adornments such as piercings and tattoos are frowned upon.

--- Colony - 2018

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A Hutterite woman stands on top of a horse at sunset.

Kelly Waldner with her quarter horse mix Kia at Baker Colony on a windy and warm spring evening.

Baker Colony - 2016

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