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Polish, Settlement

Although people of Polish descent had been present in Western Canada as far back as the early years of the19th century, the first homesteaders arrived in what is now Alberta at the turn of the 20th century. Enticed by the new immigration policy aimed at settling the Canadian prairies with farmers who could survive and work within the challenging realities of the wilderness, these first Polish arrivals were similar to other Eastern European immigrants-they were generally from a peasant background, having little formal education and from poor agricultural areas and small villages. They often sold all that they had to leave the only home they had ever known to settle in rural Alberta.

Seeking the economic and social opportunities afforded by land ownership, the lives of these early pioneers were difficult. Faced with harsh conditions, strange customs and hampered by language barriers, this first generation of Polish Albertans quickly established a network of mutual aid. With other Polish and Ukrainian immigrants they shared their homes, knowledge and farming equipment. 22 Polish communities in Alberta developed between 1890 and 1920, firmly planting the seeds for a second generation.

Early Settlers

Early Settlers