Old Order Amish districts in Ontario

I have added a second layer to my map of Mennonite churches and meetinghouses in Ontario. This layer (which you may see better if you click on the map legend symbol  on the upper left of the map, and unclick the “churches” layer) locates Old Order Amish districts in Ontario. The token of a farm building indicates one Amish district. A district is defined by being led by one bishop. It will include up to 25-30 families. If it gets larger than that size, it will be split into additional districts. The size limitation is set by the ability to hold the entire population of a district in an Amish home for Sunday worship.

There are six types of Old Order Amish in Ontario. The oldest and largest settlement is the one around Milverton, Ontario. It originates from the Amish who came to Canada from Europe in the 1820s. The “Old Order” part of the Amish in Ontario began in the 1880s when a majority of the community decided to build meetinghouses like their Mennonite neighbors. Those who did not build meetinghouses were thought of as “House Amish,” but gradually picked up the term “Old Order” that was used in the United States. They are “moderate” Old Orders in the technology permitted.

The Aylmer Amish are unique in that they have included a major publishing enterprise as part of their small three-district community. Pathway Publishers publishes many periodicals and books for the Old Order Amish community. Many homeschoolers have picked up their materials for use. There was also a major historical library at Aylmer, though this has recently been moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Aylmer Amish moved to Canada from the U.S. in the early 1950s.

The second largest Amish settlement is the one around Norfolk, Ontario. These Amish also came from the U.S., and are “Troyer” Amish, a fairly conservative Old Order group that is more restrictive in the level of technology used in the community.

The most conservative Amish group is the Swartzentruber Amish located south of Owen Sound, and at Iron Bridge, Ontario. They came from the U.S. and shun the most technology, and are cautious in their interactions with other Amish.

The Lakeside and Mount Elgin Amish are smaller groups that also originated in the U.S.

The map tokens are approximations. There are not obvious “centers” in each district. In some cases I used the locations of schoolhouses to place the tokens, in other cases I used the address of a leader if I knew it. However, in other cases I only had a “rural route” number and had to make a guess. Districts can be spread over multiple roads in various directions.

In 2018 there were five Amish districts in Canada outside of Ontario — two on Prince Edward Island (Amish from Ontario), two in New Brunswick (Amish from Maine), and one beginning in Manitoba (Amish from Ontario).

As with the church and meetinghouse map, I would be most happy for corrections and additions to the map.

My sources for the map are:

Lichti, Fred. “Old Order Amish in Canada — 45 Districts.” Ontario Mennonite History 35, no. 1 (June 2017): 4.

New American Almanac 49 (2018): 98-99. (This Old Order Amish publication from Ohio lists all Amish districts in North America.)

2 thoughts on “Old Order Amish districts in Ontario

  1. Has David Luthy’s collection at Aylmer gone to Lancaster???. I was down there a couple of times quite a few years ago with Lorraine Roth He had quite a collection Hmb

    Sent from my iPad

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