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"Four Wests:" Provincialism
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Map of Alberta Politics were a key factor in deciding the boundaries of the two new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905. With thousands of settlers arriving the in Canadian "Northwest" at the turn of the 20th century, it had become apparent that region would need to be granted the powers of provincehood. However, because the residing leader of the territorial government, Frederick Haultain, was a supporter of the federal Conservative party, Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier chose to split the territory in half to ensure Haultain would not become Premier of one large province.

Before 1905 and for a long time afterward, therefore, the differences between the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were minimal. Up until 1905 the Canadian prairies functioned primarily as one large region focused largely on the production of wheat. Although the two new provinces quickly diverged politically, it was not until after 1930 that greater provincial distinctions began to appear, when the federal government turned over control of natural resources and crown lands

Drilling rig at the LeducAgriculture has remained significant to all the prairie provinces but economic development based on the control of natural resources has fostered increased provincial distinctions. Developments such as: the oil and gas industry in Alberta, forestry and fisheries in British Columbia, potash in Saskatchewan, and manufacturing and mining in Manitoba have combined with a century of political independence to create an increased sense of provincial identity.

For more information on this topic:
Gerald Friesen. The West: Regional Ambitions, National Debates, Global Age. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1999.

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