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Settlement

At the turn of the nineteenth century the Canadian federal government began an active campaign to settle it's western regions. Facilitated by the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, between 1895 and 1914 over a million settlers, from within the Dominion, from the United States and abroad, ventured to this "Last Best West."

The western settlement campaign was so successful that by 1914, nearly one in every 4 Canadians was residing in the West, many in the new province of Alberta.These new citizens all came from varying backgrounds - some settled in large cultural or ethnic blocs, some came alone, and sent for their family once they had established themselves.

J. Fred Scott with an ox-drawn stone boat in the town of Oyen, Alberta in 1912.

There were Mennonites who came from Russia via the Netherlands, Scandinavians who came via the United States, Ukrainians, Germans, Americans, Polish, British, Dutch, and many others. There were many reasons for leaving their homelands - limited prospects, religious or political persecution, even lack of farmland or employment. The price of and in Canada was cheap and many came with hopes of building a better life for their families in a land that promised prosperity and religious and political freedom. However, once they had arrived in their new homeland and staked their land claims in the west life was not always easy. They arrived only with what they could carry with them from their homelands. Many knew little of the Canadian climate, geography, or even the English language. As a result, many had to adapt their own knowledge to the practicalities of life on the prairies - especially when building their first home, cultivating the land and providing food for their families. Here we would like to share with you the story not only of who exactly came to Alberta and why but how they adjusted to their new homeland and helped to build new communities and the foundations of this province.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.