Meeting Mennonites

Canada #29 St Jacobs

There was so much to see as we trundled along quiet country roads in an old horse drawn trolley. Our heads turned from one side to the other as we passed grain crops ready for harvest, farmhouses and outbuildings and the occasional buggy heading home from the markets.

We’d joined trolley driver Bob and his beautiful horses for a tour of the rural Mennonite community of St Jacobs. Our destination was a mixed production farm owned by the Martin family.

Along the way Bob, a Mennonite himself, explained the history of the local community, their beliefs and their way of life. He described the Old Order family we were going to visit and made sure we understood the courtesies of visiting a Mennonite property. We were welcome to take photos of the farm but not of the people.

The farm’s main product is maple syrup. We drove through the maple sugar bush, where sunlight filtered through the densely planted maple trees.

We saw how the sap was tapped in times gone by before going into the processing plant where today’s modern machinery processes the syrup.

Near the barn, chickens wandered at will while contented pigs and dairy cattle lingered close to the fence. In the apple orchard, birds flitted in and out of the bird houses on the fence.

A visit to the farm would not have been complete without calling into the farm quilt shop. Here the farmer’s wife presided over an array of jewel-coloured jams and preserves, local honey, home made candles and, of course, beautifully stitched quilts. She told how the quilts for sale are created by several local ladies who gather regularly to stitch together. I told her I too am a quilt maker and we smiled together; our shared passion was an instant connection.

On the return journey, we continued to look both left and right. With a little more knowledge of the Mennonites, we wanted to catch one last glimpse before leaving them behind.

41 thoughts on “Meeting Mennonites

  1. I’m guessing the previous post about the bridge was in the same area Carol? I think I may have spotted one in a quilt too – for some reason it (Mennonites and covered bridges) seems to be something that goes together. I have long been fascinated by these people – they seem on the one hand to lead such a restricted life and yet on the other to have achieved a beautiful balance between man and nature that the rest of us could learn from. The quilts are just stunning! Did they cost the price of a small or large house? πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, the bridge was not far away. I suppose they would say their lifestyle is not restricted at all and there were plenty of modern conveniences. The quilts were so expensive, which is understandable considering the work that goes into them. I bought one of the little potholders for $8.

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  2. What peaceful country scenes, Carol. It’s almost as though the Mennonites have more hours in a day than the rest of us. The quilts are stunning and I’m not surprised they’re expensive considering how much work has gone into making them.

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  3. I’m still not quite used to the blue tubing used now for the maple sap but it obviously makes the work a lot less arduous. I have a little collection of the taps that go in the trees and I love the buckets (but if it were me working with the maple syrup, I’d probably definitely go with the blue tubing!). Gorgeous quilts – makes one want to get going with that needle! Lovely photos – you really catch the pastoral feel.

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  4. Nice! Hal lives very near the Mennonites that are famous for quilting. Carmen Friesen married a Mennonite and was given quite a collection when her MIL passed. Her quilt show was fabulous. She displayed 36 quilts. I had a few pics on FB. I’ll get around to creating a post one of these days. πŸ™‚

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  5. A perfect day out, beautiful scenery and an added bonus to see those special quilts. I too make quilts, but I’ve never done anything like those. (Mine are mostly white on white, so miles of stitching!)

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    • I was so excited to see the quilts and to actually meet one of the ladies who make them. I love to quilt by hand so I really appreciated the work and time taken. Your quilts must be beautiful too, Jane. I’d love to see them one day.

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  6. I think we all tend admire the communities that live simpler lives. I noticed one of the comments mentioned it seems the have more hours in their days. They probably have because they don’t waste time on technology.

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  7. It is always good to learn more about a community that operates differently than the one we live in. I ‘think’ their life is a simpler one with more focus on the work involved to be successful. The quilts are lovely, and ‘if’ they are hand quilted, I can understand a higher cost because that is an art that isn’t practiced by too many today. If I remember, you still hand quilt, and I applaud your skills. I love the sugaring process but must admit I like the idea of the old pails and the maple tree offering up the sap rather than the vacuum suction process that pulls it out of the tree. But, then again, I’m not trying to make a living for my family with maple syrup production. πŸ™‚

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    • I suspect the modern methods of maple syrup production are much more economical and time saving. These quilts were hand quilted and absolutely beautiful. I told the lady I was a hand quilter and we agreed that it’s the nicest part of the process.

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  8. Love the visuals of a real farm… the buckets, the barn, the signage.

    Mmmm you had me at home made jams, local honey and preserves. The quilts are lovely and I did once learn how to quilt, enjoyed the process but somehow never stuck with it.

    Peta

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  9. I love the horse drawn carts. Tapping maple syrup is always interesting also. Life seems slower there. And quieter. But everything does get done. Always nice to experience a gentle way of life. But really like my microwave, cars and other modem conveniences. Guess I can’t have it all.

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  10. What a fascinating tour to be able to have a glimpse inot a very different life style. I love how the common thread of quilting brought that instant connection. We may have differences and yet often we are nto so different at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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