The sight of their horse-drawn buggies rolling down the highway still draws crowds to the windows even months after the first Amish families in Manitoba started arriving in the town of Vita,
“People are always quite excited to see them,” said Eva Dyck, who owns Eva’s Restaurant along the town’s main highway. “I think it has brought people out from the surrounding areas to see if they can catch a glimpse of the buggies driving by.”
Last year, signs warning drivers about the black buggies started appearing along the roads, and local officials installed hitching posts in town for the Amish to tie up their horses. In April, a group of 11 families began arriving by charter bus from southern Ontario, which until recently had been the main home for Canada’s Amish population.
The Amish community in Vita, Man., a town of 500 people 120 km southeast of Winnipeg, is the first in Canada to settle west of Ontario, according to a professor who studies the issue and the new Amish transplants.
The Amish moved west in search of new farmland. In the same vein, other Amish communities have moved east in recent years into other parts of Canada, including P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
Much like Old Order Mennonites, the Amish live simply, eschewing modern conveniences that tie them to the wider world, and mostly relying on their own power and that of their animals for work and transportation.
“We are overwhelmed almost in seeing that people in the 21st century here are making a livelihood the way our forefathers did in the 19th century. That is quite an eye-opener,” said Edward Penner, a councillor for the rural municipality who helped the Amish settle in the area.