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The Great Migration

Hutterites at Ewelme Colony, southern Alberta, 1961. Children on barnyard fence. There were many factors that brought the influx of settlers to the Canadian west, and Alberta. Although there had been slow immigration into the area after 1872, the early settlers were predominantly British and concerned more with ranching, not exactly the occupation the federal government had in mind. However, between 1896 and 1914 more than 1 million people came to the west - a region that promised them cheap land and a better life. Reverend James Chalmers Herdman, Presbyterian minister at Knox church in centre of photo. [Chinese  mission was founded in 1901 as a Presbyterian mission, but became non-denominational. Volunteers from different churches would teach English at night.] L-R: front row: boy, extreme left is Fred Jarrett; Boy, third from left is Alexander McEwing; woman fifth from left of chair, Mrs. C.A. Stuart. Back row: extreme right, Daniel McEwing, taught English. Some, like the Eastern Europeans, came to escape brutal political and religious discrimination in their homelands; others, such as the Asian populations, came to find work on the railroads or elsewhere. Still others, such as the Dutch and Germans, came in search of available farmland. In this section we will explore some of the reasons why specific groups left their homelands, as well as what they had to go through to arrive in the west and establish their homestead.

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