James Stahl, the young tour guide, tells a reporter from the nearby town newspaper that while lots of things are now done differently in the colonies, basic Hutterite values have not changed. Giving a tour last week for the Mountain View Gazette, a weekly paper in Olds, Alberta, Stahl described the way his group is developing the facilities and industries for a new colony, which will be located a few miles away.
The existing colony, Valley View, was founded in 1971 near the rural hamlet of Torrington, AB, about 55 miles north of Calgary, 33 miles south of Red Deer, 20 miles east of Olds, and 45 miles northwest of Drumheller. It is preparing to split off a daughter facility to be called the May City Colony. The new colony will be about halfway between Olds and Torrington. A few buildings have been erected for the new facility, and a handful of men are already handling some plant operations on the site, which Mr. Stahl shows the reporter.
According to the paper, the Mountain View County Municipal Planning Commission on April 3rd received an application for a permit to build the new May City Colony. It will include, in addition to housing and living facilities, a chicken broiler barn, a chicken layer barn, a duck and geese barn, and a manure storage facility. The new colony plans to raise 250 geese and 750 ducks.
A metal fabricating plant on the 3,000 acre property has been in operation for seven years, staffed by a small group of workers from Valley View, including Mr. Stahl. Called the May City Roll Forming company, it is managed by the Hutterites from Valley View, but is actually owned by VersaFrame, Inc., a Canadian company. (The reporter refers to the parent colony repeatedly as “Valleyview”, but Janzen and Stanton list it in their recent book as “Valley View.”)
The rolling plant produces metal products for roofs, sidewalks, oilfield containment structures, and agricultural facilities. Three colony members work in the office and two on the shop floor. They ship their products to customers in Alberta and British Columbia. The company business grew 10 percent last year, and anticipates growing 20 percent more this year. VersaFrame owns most of the equipment, while the colony owns the building and one of the production lines.
The reporter’s hosts talk about the anticipated formation of the new colony. The population at Valley View has grown to about 120 people, so it is planning its next split. Leonard Stahl, a 26-year old who works on the shop floor, spoke eagerly about the prospect. “Once this place is ready for people to move up here then we’re going to do it,” he said.
His cousin, 19-year old Curtis Stahl, who works with him on the shop floor, also expressed his enthusiasm. “It’s a new experience,” he says. “I’m gonna learn a lot I guess.”
James Stahl, the tour guide, indicates they will have to build the chicken barn, then the houses. Once they split the group at the old colony and half the people actually move, the new colony members will elect their spiritual leader. They will also have to build more barns so there will be plenty of work to do for the people who move, he says.
He reflects on the anticipated move, and the way things change but stay the same. “It’s kinda changing with time but you’re really sticking to your principles,” he says, “your unchanging principles.”