Building begins for Manitoba's first Amish community

The first Amish community in Canada outside Ontario is getting established in southwestern Manitoba.

The first Canadian Amish communityoutside Ontario isestablishing itselfincentral Manitoba.

A group of 11 Amish families is settling near Gladstone, Man., about 100 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. The group has purchasedabout 1,000hectaresof land from private landowners and isobtaining permits and building houses.

Reeve Ed Stroeder of the Rural Municipality of Westbourne said Wednesday that residents have offered to help the Amish.

"There has been a lot of people dropping by with vegetables andfruit andmeat, et cetera, to help these people in their time of need right here," Stroeder said.

"It's not that they're needy, but with a large crew of people building houses, they don't necessarily maybe have the time to cook proper meals. It's been just wonderful in terms of the response from people in the area."

The Amish came to Canada from the United States and Europe starting in the early 1800s. Until now, all of the 1,500 Amish in Canada were based in southwestern Ontario.

The Amish moving to Manitoba are coming from a community west of Walkerton, Ont. The community is growing, and with land costs risings, some Amish have chosen to go west.

Generally known as a conservative religious group, the Amish in Manitoba will use horse-drawn buggies and hand tools and will have no electricity or modern plumbing in their houses.

Stroeder said the Amish he hasmet are friendly and intelligent, but they don't want their unique way of life to become a media spectacle.

"They don't want to become the centre of media attention, but they understand that their lifestyle and how they do things is going to attract some attention," he said.

"I don't think anybody's been thrown off their land yet, but they might not be too open in terms of carrying on a conversation."

The Rural Municipality of Westbourne,with a population of about 2,000 people,will benefit from increased tax assessment and more per capita grants from the provincial and federal governments, Stroeder said.

He added that local businesses are also expecting a mini-boom when the group buys building materials and other necessities.