Harmony Industrial Association

Harmony Co-Operative Industrial Association scrip.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A2299

In June 1895 two brothers, Will and Ed Paynter, convened a meeting at the schoolhouse in Beulah, Manitoba. The group discussed clause by clause the Constitution for a community to be called the Harmony Industrial Association. The Constitution set out the financial conditions for membership as well as the rules and regulations of the proposed colony. The Prospectus castigated the existing capitalist system as being one of greed and exploitation, and proposed its co-operative system as a model to show how human beings should live together in peace and harmony. They called their prospective colony Hamona, a biblical name from the Book of Ezekiel; the site was in the Qu'Appelle Valley, north of Moosomin. The colony was slow to get started because the Dominion Lands Act required settlers to live on their own quarter-sections rather than in communal villages. The problem was eventually solved by an amendment, and the Hamona colonists began to arrive in 1897-98. With between 50 and 60 members, the colony existed for two years before it disbanded in 1900. In addition to farming on land near the colony and back in Beulah, the colonists raised cattle, produced butter which was sold in Moosomin as “Hamona Butter,” and made lime for cement and whitewash, also sold in Moosomin. The lime was produced by burning limestone rocks in earthen kilns dug into the Qu'Appelle hillside. Social life at the colony included tobogganing on the hillside, topical discussions, and sing-songs in the school-house on Sunday afternoons.

There are two possible explanations for the demise of the Harmony Industrial Association: one is that the railway did not come through as expected; the other is that there was some dissension in the membership because some people wanted the colony to become fully communal, with communal kitchens and free love. In any case, a meeting was held and those present voted to discontinue the experiment; some members moved away while others settled in the nearby towns of Tantallon and Spy Hill. The two Paynter brothers who founded the colony went on to be farmers, businessmen, leaders in co-operative organizations, and utopian writers. (See also Utopianism)

Alex MacDonald

Further Reading

MacDonald, A. 1995. “Practical Utopians: Ed and Will Paynter and the Harmony Industrial Association,” Saskatchewan History 47 (1): 13-26.