Sunday, September 28, 2008

Old Order Mennonite Horse Auction

Old Order Mennonites selling flowers

Our area has some of the best year round farmers' markets found anywhere. I like the Byward Market in Ottawa ON, but other than that have not seen anything that comes close to the markets in Waterloo, ON. A large Mennonite population lives in the region and their farms are often mixed, self sufficient operations. They offer a wide variety of produce, homemade foods, flowers and crafts at the markets. Other area farmers and growers from the Niagara Region sell seasonal fruits and vegetables and more food stands from other cultures are appearing each year. In one of the indoor buildings one can find a large variety of meats, fish and cheese. The St. Jacob's Market is on the same property as the Ontario Stock Exchange and livestock auctions occur a couple of times a week. We used to watch the auctions and walk the catwalk high above the stalls, but the public can no longer enter since mad cow disease appeared in Canada. A large flea market features outdoor and indoor vendors and you can find everything you need as well as plenty of things you didn't know you needed.

Slideshow of market images

I have gone to this market for years, and this weekend an off day horse auction was held with many Old Order Mennonites in attendance. A large track outside the auction barn was set up with various wagons and carts so a buyer could try out a horse before or after purchase. It was like test driving a car at a dealership. A light drizzle was falling most of the time, but that did not deter these farmers. All kinds of horses, from ponies to working stock were hitched up and taken for a ride.

Pony cart drivers

These youngsters handled the pony cart with expertiese. I have more pictures of Mennonite children in the slideshow as many came to this market with their families. Grade school aged boys and girls sold flowers and vegetables capably giving change for purchases made. All the children are well disciplined and assume adult like responsibility at an early age.

I am very sure our markets are the best but would love to hear of others that you think are worth visiting.


  1. I really enjoyed this post Ruth. I wasn't that familiar with this group..

  2. Me too. I enjoy learning about other cultures and groups of people. I would love to visit those Memmonite markets one day.

  3. We have several markets, but nothing to compare with this one. What a fun place to visit. The slide show is wonderful.

  4. Very interesting.I'm surprized that these people allowed to have thier pictures taken.Must be an interesting market.

  5. RW- You may know more about the Amish, and this group is like them in many ways.

    Wendy- If you ever come to this area of Ontario, make sure you visit.

    NCMW- Thanks. The market is very big and I took many pictures. It was hard to pick a few and you can be sure you will see more in subsequent posts ;-)

    Ruth- Hi! This market is a huge tourist draw in our area and bus loads of people come from the USA and Canada to visit. The Mennonites who choose to come here know they will be photographed. I am as respectful as possible and use the zoom on my camera from a distance. And I buy something from the vendors and I take pictures of.

  6. Every Tuesday in Delaware the Mennonite market was open to the public. I preferred their baked goods - excellent! There were also Amish markets nearby. We like their woodwork and still have a few pieces of Delaware lighthouses.

  7. We really don't have anything even close to this type thing - I love markets, though.

  8. I find the Memmonite culture very interesting. It amazes me how the youngsters can handle the "adult" life that they are put into. I often say I would like to go back in time and live the way they do. I think we would have a much better appreciation for the things that have simplified our lives. We do have a great market, but I must admit that I do not go often. Unfortunately, it has become very crowded and geared much for the tourist industry for me. I do go about once a year just to get my fill from the sausage man and a helping of apple fritters with ice cream. YUMMY!
    The photo with the 2 "little men" should be a postcard. Very cute!

  9. That is just so interesting Ruth. The mums they were selling were beautiful, and to see all the kids and the horses must have been so much fun. :c)

  10. I love markets but don't get to visist them very often. I enjoyed this informative and interesting read.

  11. Ruth,

    I love St. Jacobs and would have loved to have been at this auction. It's been years since I've been to a livestock auction, though I do go to estate auctions when I can.

    There is nothing like the markets in your area. They are definitely unique.

    Thanks for sharing the photo. They show a different way of life.


  12. Mary- Interesting that it is the markets with Amish/Mennonite influences that are so interesting.

    Cheryl- I go to the markets often, but usually early, before the crowds come. I have a few vendors I visit regularly and can be in and out in 30 minutes. The apple fritter line is at least 30 minutes long, but so worth it!

    Jayne- Fall markets are the best for colour and interest.

    Jean- I would hope there would be some interesting markets in your part of Canada. I am going to get out there someday.

    Ann- I have been to NB more than once and do not remember big markets like this. But there were smaller, interesting versions.

    Mary- There are a number of good markets in SW Ontario. We are very fortunate.

  13. Hi Ruth,

    I'm behind on 8 of your posts so today is my catch up day!

    You have VERY interesting markets to visit ... this one looked like a fascinating one to visit. Our puny little market is SO small. Not many craftsmen and very few vegetable growers as we have such a short growing season.

    I spent a little time in Africa and that is where one buys stuff so even in the smaller towns market day was big ... complete with the haggling.


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