Mennonite families looking to move to P.E.I.

Mitch MacDonald
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Allan Weeks, the owner of Allan Weeks Real Estate Co., said there’s a number of Mennonite families looking at purchasing farms in P.E.I., largely focusing on Queens County and part of southern Kings County.

The relocation of Mennonites from southern Ontario to P.E.I. may also bring a big benefit to the province’s beef industry, says realtor Allan Weeks.

Weeks, the owner of Allan Weeks Real Estate Co., said there’s a number of Mennonite families looking at purchasing farms in P.E.I., largely focusing on Queens County and part of southern Kings County.

While nothing is official, Weeks said a group of 22 Mennonites from St. Jacobs and Elmira visited the province this past summer, while another group of 23 from Mount Forest came in the end of November. He also had two families tour the province earlier this month.

“They’re also looking to come back again sometime this

spring, although it’s not 100 per cent,” said Weeks. “A lot of elders and people from farm community, they liked what they saw.”

Weeks first met the group about a year ago at a farm show in London, Ont.

“I’ve gotten to know them and they’re really nice. They’re really big into helping each other,” said Weeks, who noted the group also considered farmland in central Kings County but didn’t want to encroach on a group of Amish moving to the area.

Weeks said the group consists of hard workers who play an important part of Ontario’s farming community.

He said while members of the group include skilled carpenters, machinists and welders, most are “true farmers.”

“It would be a benefit for P.E.I. agriculture and I think they’d be a real positive asset to our beef plant,” he said. “It would be an extra if it helps keep our family farms running. They don’t accept any government programs or funding, and even pay for their own hospital visits.”

Alan McIsaac, minister of agriculture and fisheries, said he has met with both Mennonites and Amish groups who have been looking at moving to P.E.I.

“They’re good to the land, they’re great farmers and neighbours. They’ll add a lot to agriculture, but some of them also work off of farms. I think they’ll add a lot to our Island culture.” Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac.

He said their arrival will bring benefits not only to agriculture, but also to the province’s overall culture.

“They’re good to the land, they’re great farmers and neighbours. They’ll add a lot to agriculture, but some of them also work off of farms,” he said.

“I think they’ll add a lot to our Island culture.”

There are many different groups within the Mennonite religion and they can sometimes be mistaken for Amish because of their use of horse-drawn buggies and traditional clothing.

The group of Mennonites looking to resettle in P.E.I. are able to use tractors with up to 100 horsepower and an open station, as well as the same technology most Island farmers would use.

Since their religion doesn’t allow them to fly, the two groups took buses to P.E.I., although if they moved to the province they would largely travel by horse and buggy on Island roads.

Weeks said members of the group are looking to continue farming, but have little room to expand in their current communities, as many have large operations such as hand-feeding 200 head of cattle and milking cows.

Weeks said he’ll be returning to the London Farm Show in March to continue promoting Island farms.

“I chose this farm show because around London it’s about 15 to 20 thousand (dollars) an acre for farmland, where land around here is two to four thousand an acre. But the biggest thing is there’s no room around them to expand,” he said.

“Rural development is really important. Tourists come here to see the rolling hills and farmland so it also benefits more than just agriculture.”

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Chris
    February 05, 2016 - 15:11

    As a life long western Canadian, Manitoba and BC, we are moving to Pictou County for the same reasons. Not only is it super hard to make ends meet now, our children will have it very difficult. My 18 year old has no one in his peer group that has left home and lives on their own. The reason: they don't have the option to do so. The midwife who helped deliver both our younger children knows 10 families that are in the process or have recently moved to the Nova Scotia. It would be in the best interest of the PEI and Nova Scotia governments to promote themselves to other areas of the country where the cost of living is "crazy."

  • pam adams
    February 05, 2016 - 10:02

    A very warm welcome to all the Amish and Mennonite families. I moved from Kitchener to nova scotia 20 years ago, and miss my Mennonite relatives. Very exciting!

  • ME
    January 26, 2016 - 19:43

    This can only be a good thing for the island.

  • laurent Beaulieu
    January 26, 2016 - 08:25

    Mennonites are great farmers and have a solid reputation. This indeed would be a great boom for PEI. Quality farming, Welcome Mennonites.

  • Fed up
    January 25, 2016 - 11:15

    I wonder why they're all wanting to move from Ontario to PEI? Great farming land in Ontario. Hopefully not like the groups that farm the wrong crop rotations and kill the land...then move on? We must keep in mind...Weeks is just trying to sell....no matter to whom

    • Tayler Weeks
      January 25, 2016 - 14:01

      If you read the whole article, land prices in their area range between $15,000-$20,000 per acre, where we are much lower in PEI. They are limited on expanding their farms, so many family farms are forced to move elsewhere, where they can afford to farm. This is a huge benefit to PEI! No need for negative comments.

    • Robert
      January 25, 2016 - 21:58

      Just one cautionary note: Mennonite communities are closed communities, they don't support local schools and bypass local businesses because they are big enough to deal directly with manufacturers. Oh, and the won't be selling that land again, just buying up more. A little research into their efffect on local communities might be enlightening.

    • Bill Rushby
      May 14, 2016 - 18:54

      As far as I know, horse-and-buggy communities patronize local businesses quite a bit. You may be thinking of Hutterite colonies when you say they are less likely to patronize local businesses. Also, these groups are "closed" but generally not unfriendly or unhelpful to their non-church neighbors.

  • no big deal
    January 25, 2016 - 09:38

    There's a big Mennonite population just across the strait in Nova Scotia. Brule, outside Tatamagouche, as well as the Pictou area have Mennonite settlements. Same as down toward Noel Shore. They were German Mennonites who moved up to NS from Mexico in the 1960s and 70s. Why is this considered news?

    • Carol Ward
      January 25, 2016 - 10:41

      I am from southern Ontario. Mennonites from Mexico are known as Mexican Mennonites and the other Mennonites are like Amish Mennonites and there is a big difference between the two.

    • Perhaps
      January 25, 2016 - 11:05

      Perhaps you are not aware but the Guardian is a PEI newspaper. That is why it is NEWS on PEI. Perhaps it's not news in N.S. Who cares if it is or not. Perhaps you should find something else to whine about.