Amish communities checking out province

Maureen Coulter
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Groups from Ontario may put down roots here

Prince Edward Island

Anthony Wallbank has empathy for the Amish lifestyle.

That is why he is helping Amish communities from Ontario scope out Prince Edward Island to potentially set up roots on the Island.

Wallbank, owner of Misty View Homestead in Ontario, is no stranger to hard work as he grew up on a farm.

He appreciates the lifestyle of getting up early, being active and learning responsibility.

“I believe in that lifestyle of the Amish and the old order Mennonites,” he said.

Ontario has the second-largest Amish population in North America with dense populations in Kitchener and Waterloo area, said Wallbank.

With land prices in Southern Ontario skyrocketing, Wallbank is on the search for cheaper land for his Amish friends.

Wallbank has tried moving some communities to Northern Ontario where the land is cheaper but the terrain is rugged and not conducive to mixed farming, he said.

“This past spring they couldn’t even grow oats which is a pretty basic crop. You can grow oats almost anywhere but up there the crops were no good at all so that was discouraging to the Amish I took there.”

There are many reasons why Amish would thrive on P.E.I.

The soil is excellent, the growing season is longer than Northern Ontario and the land prices are cheaper, said Wallbank.

On Oct. 14, Wallbank and a group of Amish from Millbank Ontario made the 22-hour drive to check out P.E.I., mainly the eastern part of the Island.

The Amish noticed Route 3 and Route 4 had paved shoulders wide enough for a buggy to go down, he said.

“There is little chance that there would be a collision. It’s a safer environment than what it is here in Ontario.”

Islanders made the Amish women feel very much at home and the Amish men were impressed by the courtesy of the people and the pleasant humour of Islanders, he said.

“There was just a really warm reception and that means something to the Amish people.”

One Islander told Wallbank the Amish could mow three farms with a plow in the ground and never hit a stone.

“So I told that to the fellas that went out to P.E.I. and they spent the whole time looking for stones.”

They found two or three but were overall impressed by the few stones they found, he said.

Typically, the Amish want a hundred acres per farm and Wallbank suggests at least five families move to P.E.I. so they wouldn’t be lonely.

However, none of the group that visited P.E.I. plan on moving to the Island.

“The biggest single hang-up is the 22-hour drive. Some of them can’t get their heads around that.”

In another couple of weeks, Wallbank plans on bringing another group to P.E.I.

“If they did come here, they have enough room to really grow some roots in P.E.I.”

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Amish P.E.I. Northern Ontario North America Kitchener Waterloo Southern Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Jake
    February 07, 2016 - 13:00

    Nice to see people coming here who will actually benefit the island. Welcome Amish!

  • rob
    November 04, 2014 - 19:35

    I've lived in areas of On. with" Old Order" communities. They can have mixed effect on local economies. They provide super cheap goods and labour, often importing from their own sources in the U.S. But they can be very hard on local business people too, due to the fact they have impossible to compete with labour costs (in house, often children) and they spend as little as possible outside of their own community. You have to understand that they are not here to integrate into the community anymore than is necessary to thrive economically. They are hard working folk but by choice separate and insular.

    • Doreen mallette
      March 28, 2016 - 11:41

      They are having problems in Ontario with the Amish and puppy mills.

  • Very Welcoming
    October 29, 2014 - 09:52

    I wonder if the Amish will receive the same welcome arms and respect as shown by Islanders towards the Chinese monks when they settled on PEI.

  • are you crazy?
    October 29, 2014 - 08:46

    You would be taking a big chance coming here. Do a little more research before making the move....this place is poorly managed and broke.

  • UPWESTER
    October 29, 2014 - 08:23

    Mixed farming! Bring them on! It's time to divest ourselves from single crop farming and give the land a time to heal. These people are true farmers, not the french fry corporations that "Spud Island" has. It's time to put an end to this way of farming. This type of "farming" is not sustainable and all it is doing is adding to the coffers of a certain Bermuda corporation.

  • April
    October 28, 2014 - 22:42

    I sincerly have much respect for the Amish and their lifestyle and would most certainly welcome them to PEI

  • Dave
    October 28, 2014 - 21:46

    What about school? Are Islanders willing to turn their back on the fact they ignore provincial law and don't educate their children?

    • LA
      October 29, 2014 - 08:49

      Not sure how that's any worse than some of the parents here who could could care less about raising their kids period, let alone making sure they get an education.

    • Dave
      October 29, 2014 - 10:17

      I think you would be very surprised LA. Gr 9 is the max, and many/most don't even get there. Most are home schooled and it is show really. If their children choose to remain in the Amish community that is all and good. But, most of these socially conservative groups don't educate their children well enough so they have choices later in life. I don't think parents have that choice in 2014.

    • Rob
      October 29, 2014 - 12:21

      I might be wrong but I don't think they will ignore our laws. I can read the headlines...sleepy hollow has to build a piece on because too many amish are drinking and driving, selling drugs, stealing from their employers, beating their wives and molesting their children. education... doesn't always have to happen in a classroom setting. I am sure they are taught respect, sincerity, and a hell of alot more relevent stuff that will take them further in life then some of the stuff that is taught in classrooms.. I don't think we have to worry about this as the biggest fact..if you are not native american we are all immigrants just different times in era

  • Rose
    October 28, 2014 - 18:04

    My family welcomes the Amish, we think that it would be great.

  • Erik T
    October 28, 2014 - 15:55

    The Amish noticed Route 3 and Route 4 had paved shoulders wide enough for a buggy to go down, he said. “There is little chance that there would be a collision. It’s a safer environment than what it is here in Ontario.” Given the current scourge of impaired driving on P.E.I. I'd maybe reconsider the above noted statement.