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Settlers as Innovators

If you take a minute to think about it, how could settlers ever have done without innovation? Solving problems in isolation with whatever means were necessary was the order of the day. Inventors and innovation have always been a major factor in Alberta's development.

The pioneers that came to Western Canada were innovative in their thinking—they looked upon the untamed wilderness and saw a land of opportunity in the making. The challenge of transforming Alberta's fertile landscape into productive cultivated land was a huge project, but it was undertaken with relish.

Given the grueling hardship and even outright danger of settler life, we may wonder why people were so eager to risk everything for a homestead. The reasons are as diverse as the individuals. For many settlers, the West meant opportunity and the possibility of owning land. This was a powerful motivating factor, as the reality of their social and economic standing in their countries of origin often meant exclusion from land ownership. Immigrants to Canada that would become settlers were often determined to better their lot by hard work.

Many of the key immigrant populations eager to settle in Alberta were already familiar with agriculture, lacking only the chance to till their own soil. Those who weren't experienced had to learn fast, and everyone in the isolated pioneer setting relied on their neighbours when times were tough. Whether settlers came to obtain greater freedom, prosperity or simply to forge a new way of life, the basic nature of the technology at their disposal drew them together and leveled the playing field.

British, American, Ukrainian, Polish, and Scandinavian immigrants in particular were accustomed to the hard work of farming and capitalized upon similarities in climate between the prairies of Alberta and their countries of origin. Many of the immigrant farmers who came to Alberta were recruited directly by the Dominion government because of their farming ability. But while the government portrayed the prairies in the best possible light, the realities of homesteading were far less rosy.

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