Born at La Baie du Febvre, P.Q., Norbert Jutras completed his classical studies at Nicolet Seminary and came to St. Boniface in 1880. Ordained to the priesthood in 1882, Father Jutras moved to Saint Pie where he extended his ministry to the people of Emerson, Pembina and Roseau. In 1889, he became first titular priest of the new parish of Letellier.
Known as the “Apostle of Mixed Farming,” Father Jutras spent much of his spare time studying agriculture. He encouraged crop rotation to keep up the productivity of the land and instructed farmers to gather sweet clover seeds from the roadside to plant fields for excellent cattle feed.
Despite failing health, he projected a strong image and personality. He was often asked to speak on the benefits of mixed farming at agricultural conferences and contributed to the farm page of the French language journals Le Manitoba and La Liberte with his column that dealt mostly with the dairy industry.
Skillful and ingenious in mechanics, he favoured the introduction of modern equipment from steam tractors to harvesting machines. Though his mixed farming ideal survived him only 30 years or so, farm operators in his area of influence are to this day among the first to adopt new technology in order to get the most out of their land.
For 46 years he was a pillar of strength to early Manitoba rural life, providing sound advice and knowledge, sharing observations and experiences with many of our farming pioneers.