After Wilfrid Laurier was
elected Prime Minister, the Canadian government launched an
aggressive campaign to attract settlers to Canada’s west.
Thousands of immigrants answered the call to take up homesteads
But, as historian Pat Myers explains, they first had to meet the
And to do that, you filed a fee of ten dollars. You had to be a
male, 18 years or older, or a female, who could prove that they
were the sole support of children under 18.
Now this was fairly difficult; they were quite skeptical of
women who wanted to take out homesteads, but the provision did
exist for women who met the eligibility requirements.
Once you had filed for your land, to gain title to that land,
you had to live on the homestead for six months a year, for each
of the three years following the granting of your application.
You had to break 80 acres, which is about 32 hectares of land,
and you had to build a home worth at least 300 dollars.
Homesteading guides also established what animals and goods
homesteaders could bring with them into Alberta.
The 1913 guide, for example, told prospective settlers they
could bring in 16 horses, 16 head of cattle, 160 sheep, and 160
They could bring in their clothes; they could bring in household
furniture, books, guns, musical instruments, used agricultural
equipment, and other things, such as sewing machines, bicycles,
After travelling west by boat, train, or horse and wagon,
settlers would file their claims at the Dominion Lands office.
In return, what they got was a piece of paper giving the
homestead’s legal description.
Now what they were looking for in this waving sea of grass was
the three-centimetre township stake, left by the surveyors.
These were square stakes, that had the quarter and the section
stamped on the top, and they were driven into mounds of earth,
so they were a bit higher, but they were still quite hard to
Within each township, each section was marked with a slightly
smaller stake, and from here, your quarter section could be
Looking out over the unbroken prairie, or tree-covered parkland,
the new homesteaders suddenly realized the hard work before them
if they were to succeed in their new country.
On the Heritage Trail,
I’m Cheryl Croucher.