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 thinkingthey 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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