Amish families leave pricey Ontario farms, move to P.E.I.

MONTAGUE, P.E.I. -- Much like the past when pioneer families travelled west for farmland to call their own, two groups of Amish families from Ontario are heading east to till the fertile, red soil of Prince Edward Island and establish a new home.

See Full Article

According to realtor Brad Oliver, it has simply gotten too expensive in Ontario for the Amish communities to expand, and young people to own their own farms.

"They are sitting on farmland in Ontario that's worth in excess of $20,000 an acre. That's fine when you own it, but the young generations are looking to buy farms and it just doesn't work for them," he said in an interview from Montague, P.E.I.

"We're two to three thousand dollars an acre for good, productive farmland which will grow basically the same crop that they're used to growing in Ontario, and we've got the big, old farm homes that they like," he said.

Amish are groups of traditionalist Christian church fellowships. They are known for simple living, plain dress, and a reluctance to adopt modern technology.

Tony Wallbank, who ran a horse-drawn farm equipment company in Ontario, began the search for new land for the Amish a few years ago -- exploring properties in Northern Ontario and various locations in the United States. Each time the land was either too expensive or unsuitable.

But during a trip in 2014 to Prince Edward Island, Wallbank found rolling fields and landowners anxious to see their properties farmed by traditional methods rather than sitting idle or becoming acreage for large commercial farming operations.

Wallbank said the Amish who will move to the Island this spring are coming from two communities near Woodstock and Kitchener-Waterloo, with six to eight families coming from each community.

"They like to have a core group of people, six to eight families, with a bishop and a minister and school teacher, because they have very strong community beliefs," he said.

Wallbank said wherever the Amish settle, they are good for the local economy, especially for tourism.

"Their culture is so popular, their dress, the horse and buggies, draft horses in the fields, and they also sell goods and vegetables on the roadside stands," he said.

He said they won't be any drain on the economy.

"They look after their grandparents and parents until they pass away right on the farm, and they don't have any unemployment, so they don't use employment insurance, nor do they go on welfare," he said.

Wallbank has made a number of trips to P.E.I. with groups of Amish to show them the Island and to look at farms in the eastern end of the province near Malpeque.

Oliver said six farms have been sold, while four others are under contract, and the search continues for more.

"I think we're going to have a substantial population over the next decade," he said.

"They're large families. These are people that have 10-12 kids and they branch out into the neighbouring farms as the generations continue. They like what they see here," Oliver said.

He said the Amish families lead simple lives without modern conveniences such as electricity, and most do not use indoor plumbing.

Oliver said an agreement has been reached with the provincial government to allow the Amish to do a form of home-schooling with an old-fashioned, one-room school house.

Some of the settlers will arrive in P.E.I. in March while others will wait until the school year ends in late June.

"This late May in eastern P.E.I. you are going to be able to see guys cropping the land with horse-drawn farm equipment," Oliver said.

He said he's been searching the Island for horse-drawn equipment, and has been able to find quite a bit of it.

Wallbank said some of the families will bring some of their existing equipment and horses from Ontario.

"One young couple that are newlyweds -- about a month into their marriage -- have no equipment at all, so they are starting from scratch," he said.

Wallbank said the Amish settlers have already been made to feel welcome.

"Everybody from the premier of the province, down to the old fellas at Tim Hortons, have all welcomed the Amish when they visited," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Russian court orders shutdown of opposition figure Navalny's foundation

    World News CBC News
    A Moscow district court has ordered the closure of the foundation crucial to the election campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most formidable foe, had been leading a grass-roots campaign for a year ahead of the 2018 presidential vote, before election officials in December formally barred him from running. Source
  • Kingston, Ont., woman, 42, charged after being found naked in stranger's bathtub

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. - Police say a woman is facing charges after she was found lounging naked in a stranger's bathtub in Kingston, Ont. They say that when the complainant arrived home on Sunday evening, she found the nude woman in the unfilled tub. Source
  • Saskatchewan ends ban on Alberta plates at its job sites

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON - The licence plate fight between Saskatchewan and Alberta is over. An Alberta government spokesman says Saskatchewan informed them by letter today it is rescinding its ban on vehicles with Alberta licence plates on Saskatchewan government project sites. Source
  • Any steak specials? RCMP dashcam catches cougar in front of Banff grocery store

    Canada News CTV News
    BANFF, Alta. -- An RCMP officer on a traffic stop in Banff caught more than he expected on his car's dash camera. The video, which shows the constable talking to a motorist, captured a cougar dashing by a couple of metres away -- in front of a grocery store. Source
  • 'Unnecessary risks' to blame for record high snowmobile deaths in Ontario: OPP

    Canada News CTV News
    The winter of 2016-2017 had the highest number of snowmobile-related fatalities in Ontario on record, provincial police say. During the season, Ontario Provincial Police responded to 27 snowmobile deaths, marking a record high in snowmobile-related fatalities since the winter of 2003-2004. Source
  • USA Gymnastics leaders resign amid sex abuse scandal

    World News CBC News
    Three key leaders at USA Gymnastics resigned Monday as more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes. Source
  • 5 missing after Oklahoma rig explosion, emergency official says

    World News CBC News
    Five people are missing after a fiery explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig Monday morning, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled on the ground, an emergency official said. Source
  • Lawyers slam 'de facto expulsion' of student guilty of sexual interference

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - The Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association is criticizing what it calls the de facto expulsion of a University of Calgary student convicted of a sexual offence. Connor Neurauter pleaded guilty to sexual interference with a minor in Kamloops, B.C. Source
  • LIVE: Funeral held for boy killed in N.S. house fire

    Canada News CTV News
    The funeral for one of the four children who died in a southern Nova Scotia house fire is being held. Mason Grant, 7, died in a house fire in West Pubnico, N.S. on Jan. Source
  • More than 600 at funeral for N.S. boy who died in fire

    Canada News CTV News
    YARMOUTH, N.S. -- The funeral for one of four children killed in a house fire in southern Nova Scotia was held today for a little boy known for his infectious smile and unusual sense of humour. Source