Old Order Mennonites – In My Own Backyard

Welcome to In My Own Backyard!

For those of you familiar with Canada, especially Ontario, you will be familiar with the multitude of various cultures which now call Ontario home.   But, did you know that in a quiet little town just north of one of Ontario’s largest cities, Kitchener-Waterloo, there remains to this day a large congregation of Old Order Mennonites?

old-order-mennonite-work-horse
They grey one is an Old Order Mennonite Work Horse

Old Order Mennonites – A Bit of History

Old Order Mennonites are those Mennonites of Swiss German and North German heritage.  Despite technological progress, they have maintained their simple life-style and do not have televisions, computers, and many still don’t drive vehicles.  It will be easy for you to identify an Old Order Mennonite by his or her simple dress.

Old Order Mennonite Female Dress Code

The Old Order Mennonite women continue to wear dress modestly in a long ankle-length dress which is made of  sturdy, plain material and an apron over their dress.  Her long hair will traditionally be tied up in a bun with a bonnet covering her head.

Old Order Mennonite Male Dress Code

You will typically see the Old Order Mennonite men dressed in dark trousers, a plaid buttoned shirt and a straw hat.

Why Do the Old Order Mennnonite’s Dress This Way?

There are several reasons why the Old Mennonite’s dress the way that they do:

  1. It distinguishes them from other religious groups.  It is a badge of membership;
  2. It is meant to show their modest ways;
  3. It shows that at they are ready to work and the dress shows the woman’s place in the household.

Old Order Mennonites In My Own Backyard

The Old Order Mennonites in my neck of the woods immigrated to Ontario in the 1850’s from Pennsylvania and settled in the area where they still are today, although they have recently begun to expand into other areas of Ontario and Canada’s East Coast for the farmland.

The lifestyle and culture of the Old Order Mennonites,  seeing them ride their horse and buggies as their primary means of transportation, watching them plow their fields with the horses,  seeing the children playing or riding their bikes in their traditional clothing, and the beauty of their farms, has continued to fascinate to this day.  In many ways, I envy them their simple lifestyle.

PRO TIP:  Stop at the little hut at the end of their driveway to purchase some flowers or home-grown fruit and vegetables

old-order-mennonite-farm
Old Order Mennonite Farm

If you are visiting in Ontario or have the urge to take a roadtrip,  I urge you to visit St. Jacob’s , see if you can tell which farms are owned by an Old Order Mennonite family.

I’m off to see what else I can find In My Own Backyard.  Until next week…….

Kelly xoxo

PIN TO VISIT MENNONITE COUNTRY

32 thoughts on “Old Order Mennonites – In My Own Backyard

  1. Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah

    I can’t wait to get to St Jacob’s Market!!! Holding hope we can go this year if they have it…and we’ve been surrounded by Mennonites too around here, but I never really knew a lot about them. The farm we go berry picking is owned by a Mennonite family. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sophia Bawany

    It’s soo refreshing to see simplicity and wholesome living. Sometimes its super important to take a second and remove all the crazy rat-race mess that we get caught up in. Thank you for sharing and giving a much needed reminder 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay Artale

    Since lock down I wonder how many people have enjoyed a simpler way of life. I know I have. Doing a lot of gardening, planting crops in the green house. Sewing. Painting… it’s so nice not to have been living in a world besotted by consumerism. We don’t need all the shit we think we need to buy. I think there’s a good balance to be found in a simple life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I completely agree! I’m not a shopper so I haven’t missed that at all, and I go even less often now. I find myself spending more time in nature, reading, knitting. I for one am all for simpler times!

      Like

  4. Anuradha

    Looks like a place where you can travel back in time! What I loved the most is they have tried to upkeep their tradition and customs even in the era of technology and fast pace. That makes this place all the more unique and inviting. These are the kind of things that enhance our travel experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kelly

    So interesting seeing how these people live and are able to support themselves! In Alberta, I have visited the Hutterite colony as well and its very similar. Great being able to support them with picking up fresh veggies, bread etc 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Harshi

    Simple lifestyle is often so peaceful! Wouldn’t mind spending a day out in nature away from every gadget and modern objects. In fact this lockdown and unavailability of a lot of things has made me realise that you don’t really need too much and all the fancy things to function or even be happy. It was refreshing reading about them and their way of life through your post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Niry Fidelis

    They do not have televisions? That is really interesting. It’s hard to find someone who still don’t watch TV means that they spend their time by doing something more sociable!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      The Old Order Mennonites don’t have t.v.’s, proper farm equipment, internet, nothing. You; will always see the children out riding their bikes, playing baseball, fishing, and the adults are always working the farm.

      Like

  8. Sandy N Vyjay

    Old Order Mennonites sound really fascinating. It seems that time has stopped here as they lead old lifestyles not corrupted by modern-day influences. It must be a great experience to spend time with them, it must actually be like traveling back in time. Would love to spend some time with these fascinating people.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kathleen

    Super interesting. I agree with you. Sometimes I think going back to simpler times would be a fantastic idea. So great that they share their flowers and produce. We saw a Mennonite farm in Belize. I don’t know if it was an Old Order farm or not though.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bye:myself

    Very interesting, I always find cultures and ethnicities super-fascinating and love how old customs and traditions are conserved. On the other hand, I always ask myself how terrible it must be if for some reason you do not fit in, if, for instance, you’re gay or just don’t want to get married but have a career of some kind. There are Mennonites in Belize where I was. There, too, it’s difficult: They very much stick to themselves which in such a small place does lead to some sort of inbreed – I mean, you have columns of three or four German last names in the directory since it’s all the same families…. And, I’m sorry, but it shows. Also, in a way, they consider themselves kind of superior and are a bit racist which of course in a country where the population is predominantly black or creole is also problematic; whereby – racism is always problematic, no matter where. Anyway, I find these communities are totally fascinating, however, they certainly do not contribute to an open, progressive society where everyone finds a happy place is accepted the way he or she wants to be.

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      They definitely tend to keep to themselves and even have their own schools. I have no direct knowledge but have also heard that there is a lot of in-breeding which would make sense since most don’t socialize with others outside of their own.

      Like

  11. Travel See Write

    Your post looked like it is from the 60s or 70s cinema. I love the dresses they are wearing. I had no idea there was a large Mennonite community in Ontario. I am a culture traveller and never thought I can find such communities in Ontario. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  12. Freya

    It’s so interesting that there are still communities that maintain such an old-world lifestyle despite living in highly developed capitalist countries. I can certainly see the appeal of spending time working outdoors, growing and preparing your own food and making your own entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

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