Some unusual highway signs have been posted along Provincial 201 in the Vita area. They advise motorists to watch for horses and buggies. Lucie Maynard, Chief Administrative Officer for the RM of Stuartburn, says that's because Amish Mennonites are moving to the area from southern Ontario. Between 20 and 30 families will live in an area just west of Vita and south towards Arbakka. Maynard says they have been purchasing land since earlier this year.
"Each Amish family would like its own quarter-section, so it'll be one homestead per quarter. Their main school and church will be all on one property which will be more in the Arbakka area. They are coming from just outside of London, Ontario; Mount Elgin and Salford, Ontario."
Maynard adds they've purchased three quarter-sections from the RM of Stuartburn plus another 80-acre parcel of land. They have also acquired about nine quarter-sections from other people and are looking for a few more.
Maynard says the reaction from local residents is very positive.
"It seems pretty favourable. Everybody seems kind of intrigued and interested in their way of life and are, so far, quite welcoming. We got to see them at the end of October. They were in town with their horses and buggies. They were here to put up a few pole sheds so that they will be ready in spring. But then they went back home to spend the winter there and then, they'll be back in the spring to build their homes."
Maynard notes the Amish hired a trucking company to transport their horses and buggies back and forth.