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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

mennonite in a red dress

Went to The Royal Winter Fair yesterday, forced to come out with a story, here's what I came out with:

Mariea Marton-Wiles, 59, is a Mennonite in a red dress.

With lipstick and gold jewelry to match, Marton-Wiles stood at her booth yesterday at The Royal Winter Fair, surrounded by homemade jams, pickles, tarts, cookies, fudge, meats, quilts and more.

The goods come from around 250 Mennonite families living on farms around Ontario, towns such as Elmira, St.Jacobs, Elora, and Mount Forest.

Around 98 per cent of it is from Mennonites of the horse and buggy order, the division that does not believe in using electricity or motorized vehicles.

This is where Marton-Wiles comes in, as she is a Contemporary Mennonite, and is therefore able to pick up all the homemade items from the families and sell them at the

All the food is made off the land and is of very high quality. The Mennonites aim for perfection, “for the glory of God,” she says. Even the elaborate quilts are all made from hand.

“It’s a social thing,” says Marton-Wiles, “you sew them after your chores.”

Those of the horse and buggy order live an old fashioned lifestyle, similar to the Amish,
and follow the 10 commandments very closely.

They wear dark clothing so that you see the person rather than the garments that they wear. They pay their taxes but will take nothing from the government. Their children will not attend public schools, as the Mennonites have their own school system. They have no insurance, but if a barn burns down, the tightly knit community is always there to help one another,

Marton-Wiles is so caught up in explaining the ways of the Mennonites that she is unaware of an older man trying to get her attention.

He says “how much for the tarts?”

“Only $6,” she says.

The Mennonites work hard to provide the best product, as well as to sell it for a decent price.

“They believe in the hereafter, they want to live a good clean life. They try very hard to be good, charitable, and pure in every sense,” she says.

The town of St.Jacobs is becoming one of the biggest tourist attractions in Toronto because of the Mennonites. You can catch them there, selling fresh produce and homemade crafts, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Stjacobs, originally uploaded by gill.


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