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.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Cubs beat Dodgers, advance to World Series for 1st time in 71 years

    World News CBC News
    Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series. Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. Source
  • SHERRING: Tots with cancer spells stress – and many extra bills

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    In a perfect world, with life as it should be, kids would just never get cancer. In Lisa Garland’s life, that’s not the way things unfolded. In fact, Garland and her husband Nino Filoso have two sons and somehow both boys were struck with cancer, two different types — and no predisposed or genetic reason to relate them. Source
  • 'It’s here again': Strong winds, rain spark flood worries on Cape Breton Island

    Canada News CTV News
    Strong winds and heavy rain pounded Cape Breton, N.S. for the second time in less than two weeks on Saturday. The downpour caused major concern among residents who are already dealing with the aftermath of a storm last week that brought more than 220 millimetres of rain, flooding thousands of homes in the region. Source
  • Porn star accuses Donald Trump of offering $10,000 to come alone to hotel suite

    World News Toronto Sun
    An adult film actress on Saturday accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or someone acting on his behalf of offering her $10,000 and the use of his private jet if she would agree to come alone to his hotel suite at night after a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006. Source
  • Woman nets 30 months in jail for sex with teen boy

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Manitoba woman who admitted to having a four-month-long sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. The now 26-year-old accused previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference. She is not being named to protect the identity of her victim. Source
  • Mother of young murder victim sickened to learn her daughter's killer has been granted weekend passes

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    While child killer Harold Smeltzer enjoys his first weekend pass away from his life sentence, the mother of the little Calgary girl he killed in 1980 sits feeling helpless and sick to her stomach. “It never goes away,” Evelyn Thompson said of that pain and fear that took over her life almost 37 years ago. Source
  • Winnipeg teen with cerebral palsy hosts his own sports show

    Canada News CTV News
    A Winnipeg teen living with cerebral palsy has embarked on an inspiring journey to live out his dream of becoming a sports broadcaster. Despite being wheelchair-bound and having a speech impediment, 17-year-old Jordan Rogodzinski hosts his very own internet sports show called the “Jordan 411 Sports Show. Source
  • 100 mostly barefoot inmates escape Haiti lockup

    World News Toronto Sun
    ARCAHAIE, Haiti — More than 100 mostly barefoot inmates overpowered guards on Saturday and escaped from a lockup in central Haiti, officials said. Judge Henry Claude Louis-Jean said the prison break occurred in Arcahaie, a coastal town about 30 miles north of Haiti’s capital. Source
  • Bad weather damages booms, spreads diesel spill from sunken tug off B.C. coast

    Canada News CTV News
    BELLA BELLA, B.C. -- Heavy weather conditions are causing a diesel spill from a sunken tugboat to spread in the waters off British Columbia's remote central coast. A spokeswoman for Kirby Offshore Marine, which owns the tug, says the booms that were containing the spill have been compromised due to high winds and three-metre waves. Source
  • 174 inmates escape, 1 guard shot dead in 'violent' Haitian prison break

    World News CBC News
    Most inmates of a northern Haitian prison escaped on Saturday after killing a guard and stealing firearms, said authorities who launched a manhunt with support from UN peacekeepers for the 174 fugitives. Police set up checkpoints on roads leading from the prison and detained several people without identity cards, a Reuters witness said. Source