War II a number of factors have combined to prompt a decline in the population
growth of rural Alberta. While the root cause of the problematic
situation is multi-faceted, some of the key and interwoven
contributing factors include:
an increased reliance on farm machinery, chemical use and a
move toward large scale agribusiness, where larger farms are operated by fewer
the 1995 cancellation of the
Crow Rate, which subsidized railway shipment of grain and resulted
in abandoned or demolished rail lines and grain elevators
being replaced by fewer, massive terminals;
the emergence of "mega barns"
producing hogs and other livestock as farmers chose to sell directly to
the corporations who package and market food products rather than
tackle the open market.
Historian Jane Ross notes in her article "Rural
Revolution: How can Alberta farmers survive and save what they
In 1921, the size of the average farm was 198 acres; by 1996
the number had risen to 608 acres, and this year the average
farm size had doubled since then to nearly to 1200 acres! . . .
Now, 20 per cent of prairie farms produce 80 per cent of the
grain and livestock.1
this, between 1966 and 1996, the population of rural Alberta did
grow by over 20 percent. However, only 20 percent of Albertans now
live rurally with less than 8 percent of the population involved in
1 Reprinted with the permission of Jane Ross and Legacy
(Spring 2002): 18-21.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.