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

  • Saudi ceasefire takes effect in Yemen, no word from Houthis

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- A ceasefire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen went into effect Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the more than 5-year-old conflict. Saudi officials announced late on Wednesday that the ceasefire would last for two weeks and that it comes in response to UN calls to halt hostilities amid the coronavirus pandemic. Source
  • U.K. braces for more virus deaths; Johnson reported stable

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britons braced Thursday for several more weeks in lockdown as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in a London hospital after three nights in intensive care for treatment of his coronavirus infection. The British government said Wednesday evening that the prime minister was making "steady progress" at St. Source
  • Prince William and Kate video call children at school to boost morale

    World News CTV News
    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spread some Easter cheer to pupils and teachers at one primary school in the U.K. when they dialed in for a video call while the country is on lockdown. Source
  • Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and the world on Thursday

    World News CBC News
    The latest:Trudeau says physical distancing has been 'effective' but it's not clear when pandemic will peak.Canada's two major airlines — WestJet and Air Canada — are making use of a federal wage subsidy plan to hire back thousands of workers. Source
  • Half billion more people face poverty due to virus: Oxfam

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take “urgent action” to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday. Source
  • Without 'urgent action,' half a billion will be pushed into poverty, report warns

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take "urgent action" to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday. Source
  • Atomic bomb tests help reveal age of world's biggest fish

    World News CBC News
    Scientists have figured out how to calculate the age of whale sharks — Earth's largest fish — with some guidance from the radioactive fallout spawned by Cold War-era atomic bomb testing. By measuring levels of carbon-14, a naturally occurring radioactive element that also is a by-product of nuclear explosions, the researchers determined that distinct bands present inside the shark's cartilaginous vertebrae are formed annually, like a tree's growth rings. Source
  • New York's coronavirus outbreak came from Europe and other parts of the United States, study shows

    World News CTV News
    A Mount Sinai study shows the first cases of coronavirus in New York City most likely originated in Europe and other parts of the United States, the health system said. With more than 80,000 cases and 4,260 coronavirus deaths, according to the city's website, New York is one of the major epicenters for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Source
  • New White House press secretary downplayed pandemic threat, said Democrats were rooting for coronavirus

    World News CTV News
    New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in comments made in February and March, a CNN KFile review has found. In radio and television appearances, McEnany, in her role as spokeswoman for U.S. Source
  • People needing addiction services feeling 'abandoned' during pandemic

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's former provincial health officer says he has "grave concerns" about reduced services because of COVID-19 for people struggling with drug addiction, while the manager of a supervised consumption site in Toronto says people are feeling abandoned. Source