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

  • 'I cannot promise we will never make another mistake': Quebec cardinal on sex abuse summit

    Canada News CTV News
    Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet says Pope Francis' historic summit on preventing sex abuse in the clergy is a good first step but says "I cannot promise we will never make another mistake." Ouellet told CTV News' Paul Workman that the Vatican is taking the allegations of sex abuse seriously, citing the historic summit as the first step in reconciliation. Source
  • Polish activists pull down statue of priest in abuse protest

    World News CTV News
    WARSAW, Poland -- Activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest early Thursday after increasing allegations that he sexually abused minors, a stunt they said was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse. Source
  • Catalan secessionists block highways, train tracks in strike

    World News CTV News
    BARCELONA, Spain -- Strikers backing Catalonia's secession from Spain blocked major highways, train tracks and roads across the northeastern region on Thursday to protest the trial of a dozen separatist leaders. The general strike was organized by small unions of pro-independence workers and students. Source
  • Louisiana woman charged in shooting of her pet llama, Earl

    World News CTV News
    OPELOUSAS, La. -- A Louisiana woman is accused of shooting her pet llama named Earl who she says attacked her. News outlets report 67-year-old Madeline Bourgeois told St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputies that Earl had attacked her last week while she was working in her pasture. Source
  • More than 150 IS militants handed over to Iraq from Syria

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, the first batch of several to come, an Iraqi security official said Thursday. Source
  • Students abused at Catholic school for deaf boys in Verona seek closure at Pope's summit

    World News CBC News
    Alessandro Vantini uses crude gestures to illustrate the way three priests abused him throughout his entire childhood at a school for deaf boys in the northern Italian city of Verona. He said one clergyman regularly hit him with a stick and sodomized him. Source
  • Ottawa could face four class-action lawsuits over $165M error at Veterans Affairs

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government now faces four proposed class-action lawsuits over a $165 million accounting error at Veterans Affairs that shortchanged more than 250,000 former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, CBC News has learned. The latest claim was filed this week by the Ottawa law firm headed by retired colonel Michel Drapeau. Source
  • First post-SNC-Lavalin polls look bad for Trudeau Liberals

    Canada News CBC News
    The fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair is only beginning to rain down on Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government but it seems to be having an impact — one that could put the Liberals on track to defeat in this fall's federal election. Source
  • Pope opens sex abuse summit amid outcry from survivors

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has opened a high-level summit of church leaders on preventing clergy sex abuse, hoping to impress on bishops from around the world that the problem is global and requires a global response. Source
  • Vatican's legal procedures for handling sex abuse, explained

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- For centuries, the Vatican's canon law system busied itself with banning books and dispensing punishments that included burnings at the stake for heretics. These days, the Vatican office that eventually replaced the Roman Catholic Inquisition is knee-deep in processing clergy sex abuse cases. Source