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Home > History of Development > Early Industry: Case Studies > Breton Plots > History

Early Industry Case Studies

The History of the Breton Plots

Threshing, Sturgeon Valley, n.d.When settlers began to travel to their Alberta homes, they generally chose to settle the prairie and parkland regions first, partly because of their dark, rich soils that made for good agricultural land. These fertile soils were Brown and Black Solonetzic soils.

After all homesteads in the prairie and parkland regions were taken, settlers began to move into the more wooded areas in the province. Settlement in the forest belt became quite common in the years of 1910—1920, and settlement often had to wait until the lumbering companies had cleared the area before they could take over the land. It was thought that these lands would be good for agriculture because of the many white poplar and white spruce trees that had previously grown there. However, they would soon discover how wrong they were!

It took three men to pool their resources to create the Breton Plots. Dr. Frank Wyatt established the first Department of Soils in Canada at the University of Alberta. He was also very familiar with the Morrow Plots, a similar design to the soon-to-be Breton Plots, at the University of Illinois. Dr. John Newton was appointed to the very same Department of Soils in 1922. It was these two men who started research in 1929 at the future site of the Breton Plots.

Mr. Ben Flesher made the land available that was used for the first plots in 1929. He did much of the manual labour himself that kept the plots running smoothly.

All three of these men collaborated and created a valuable and appreciated resource for farmers not only in Alberta, but the world over. The 20-acre plot of land which housed the Breton Plots was bought by the University of Alberta in 1940, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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