Since 2000, a number of Amish families have bought farms in Centre Hastings and Stirling-Rawdon. They farm using horses, have set up sawmills and are making furniture. They sell eggs, vegetables, candies and home baking from their farm gates. Look for the signs in Stirling-Rawdon and in Centre Hastings.
The Old Order Amish are very conservative and their way of life dates back the 16th century when Martin Luther challenged the power of the Roman Catholic church. The Amish are the descendants of the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists believed adults should make the choice to be baptised rather than baptizing infants. The Amish were followers of Jacob Amman, who broke away from the other Anabaptists in the period between 1693-1697. The beliefs, customs and language of the Armish go back to many of the guidelines set out by Jacob Amman. They dress plainly, don’t use electricity in their homes, and don’t drive cars. The women don’t cut their hair and tie it back and they wear black bonnets. The men grow long beards but don’t have moustaches.
The Amish drive black buggies pulled by single horses. Watch for them at night as they only use a couple of lanterns to light the buggies. Many of the Amish speak English but Pennsylvania Deutsch (a form of German) remains an important part of the culture.
In 1681, English Quaker William Penn got land in what was to become Pennsylvania. He decided to establish a holy colony which would advocate religious tolerance. He invited Anabaptists, who were persecuted in Europe, to settle on his land. Later, during the American Wars of Independence, some of these Anabaptists moved to Upper Canada. Other Anabaptists or Amish came directly to Ontario from Europe in 1820. There are now around 200,000 Amish is Canada and the US and virtually none in Europe.