May 19, 2017

Amish receive warm welcome as more move to Prince Edward Island

Ross Lord
Global National Atlantic
May 15, 2017

Even by the pastoral standards of eastern Prince Edward Island, it’s a strikingly wholesome image.

A group of children, of various ages, playing baseball on their lunch break, near their one room schoolhouse.

For these youngsters, using their spare time for Snapchat and Facebook is not an option.

They’re Amish.

In the past year, more than 20 Amish families have moved to P.E.I., turning heads with their distinctive clothing and old-style transportation.

Asked what she finds fascinating about the Christian fellowship noted for its traditional ways, area resident Norma Moore told Global News it was “the fashion, to be honest.”

“Was wondering if they still wore the big hats and the long dresses, and, yeah, they do, and it’s actually quite nice,” she said.

After exchanging their farms in Ontario for more fertile, and more affordable P.E.I. properties, the Amish newcomers arranged for government exemptions, to create buildings without plumbing, and, get government identification without pictures.

Amish principles discourage photos, in the belief they undermine humility.

Even a Global News crew was chastised while recording video of a passing horse and carriage.

“Whoa, what’s going on?” asked a farmer, as he brought his horse to a standstill.

“We don’t appreciate this,” he told the camera operator, who had taken up a fixed position on the roadside, before the horse and buggy came into view.

There are more than 20 Amish families on the Island, building barns, and putting down roots.

And their real estate agent, Brad Oliver, expects many more are on the way.

“I betcha there’ll be a couple of hundred families in eastern P.E.I., 20 years from now,” said Oliver, who had a hitching post installed outside his office for the Amish to tied up their horse during visits to the town of Montague.

In a province where he said the pace was already slow, it’s been a smooth transition.

“They’re awesome people, they’re very friendly,” said Lorna Larocque, who works at a used clothing store that’s been popular with Amish families.

“They wave. I wave, every time I see them.”

Oliver said the newcomers do enjoy some modern perks, like watching hockey on TV.

“If the game’s on, yeah, and they’ll have a beer.”

But, mostly, they follow the old ways, like women using manual push-mowers to cut their lawns, or, the family that milks 25 cows a day by hand.

A recent, minor collision between a horse-drawn carriage and an impatient motorist forced police to warn Islanders to take it easy.

For those who think the Amish are peculiar, Oliver has a reminder.

“One fella said to me one day, and I like what he said. He said, ‘people ask us why we’re so different.’ He said, ‘you’re the guys who changed. We didn’t change.'”

But, in their own way, they are changing the East Coast, injecting new blood into the land of the bright, red mud.

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