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Becoming a Province 1905-1924
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At its inception, Alberta’s dominant society was white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant. Generally, the Anglo-Canadians who came to Alberta before and after Sifton’s campaign were from Ontario, of British origin, and Protestant. Western Canada held little appeal to most British farmers, however, many British town and city dwellers (who were locked into the British class system and would likely never own land) took advantage of the opportunity to become land owners in Alberta.

The Last Best West promotional bookletAmericans, many who were of British origin, were captivated by the "Last Best West" advertising. Generally, Anglo-Canadians and Americans shared a common language, ancestry, values, and often a Protestant faith.

Naturally, similar backgrounds created an extension of religious, social, cultural, and volunteer activities. Church events, fraternal and women’s organizations, youth organizations, associations, and sporting events brought together similar-minded farming, ranching, and town communities. Fraternal lodges included the Orange Lodge, the Knights of Pythias, the Masonic Lodge, and the Canadian Order of Foresters. In 1902, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) began in Calgary as a place where men could explore their spiritual values as well as pursue leisurely activities. In 1907, Edmonton’s YMCA was incorporated by special provincial legislature.

Early women’s organizations, a genesis of things to come, mainly focused on social issues such as reform and education. They included the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), Women’s Temperance Union, and United Farm Women of Alberta. The YWCA building, 1912In 1907, by special provincial legislature, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) was begun in Edmonton. Calgary’s first YWCA opened in 1910. The YWCA was established as a traveller’s aid to single women. Over the years, the YWCA has evolved into a non-denominational organization that has an exemplary track-record for voluntary endeavours and community involvement.

The overriding expectation of Anglo-Albertans was that conformity and assimilation of immigrants to the Anglo-Saxon culture was important. They felt that their values, colour, and religion were superior. This thinking created ethnic, religious, and class divisions within Alberta. Cultural integration versus cultural assimilation were two different realities. Non-Anglo groups formed pocket communities throughout Alberta.

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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community
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