I would like to visit some Amish village. I'll be based in Toronto and I believe that St Jacob is the closest place to visit a village? Is that easy to visit or should I book a tour?
It's Mennonite country around St Jacob's not Amish. Their homes and farms are scattered around and you may see them with their buggies.
St. Jacob's is in Waterloo County. Old Order Mennonites are similar to the Amish.
There are Amish in Grey County, in Chatsworth. But there is no single "area" where you would see them.
Unlike in the US, the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc. are not considered tourist attractions in canada.
Old Order are very similar in dress to the Amish. If all you're looking for is a bit of a look just take in the Waterloo farmers market. There will be lots of Old Order there. Sat is best Thurs is OK Then go up the road and stop in St Jacobs and walk around. They won't appreciate being treated as curiosities though so be careful taking pics. You may find one interested in talking to you especially at the farmers market where they're used to being around people. Its an interesting place to visit even aside from the Mennonite presence
I always enjoy visiting the St. Jacobs area and seeing the Mennonites travelling to the market in their horse & buggies. The market is fantastic, love the sausage you can get there and also the deep fried apple fritters. If you do have a conversation with any of them, try and see if you can detect a different accent. I certainly can, as I am originally from the UK where the accent changes, or used to change every few miles, and have a different ear from my fellow Canadians.
It's quite different from the US, where they are treated as a tourist attraction. They even play it up by having shops selling 'Dutch Goods' even though the Pennsylvania 'Dutch' were never Dutch at all! It's just a corruption of the word they called themselves, 'Deutsche', meaning 'German'. !
You don't say when you're going to be here but the last weekend in May is the Mennonite relief sale in New Hamburg. Just outside Kitchener. Lots of Mennonite stuff there. Big auction including hand made quilts lots of food etc All the proceeds go to their relief work around the world.