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
the federal government turned over control of natural resources and crown lands
Agriculture 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
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.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.