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 THE ENGLISH IN THE PRAIRIE PROVINCES

(ALBERTA, MANITOBA & SASKATCHEWAN )

 

 

Log Dwelling in Hunís Valley, near Minnedosa

Manitoba photographed in 1889 by Ernest Baxter

who originated from Devon.

 

 

  • The English influx to the Prairies occurred in two phases. Ontario and Quebec migrants of English descent travelled overland in carts from the 1870s long before the railways were constructed. Substantial numbers also came at this time from the Eastern Townships of Quebec and from the Maritime Provinces. By 1926 Saskatchewan had more Ontario-born residents than Manitoba and Alberta combined, the majority having English origins.

 

  • People who came directly from England did not arrive in appreciable numbers until the 1890s, after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. By the early 1900s their numbers were soaring. They too favoured Saskatchewan. Nearly 50% of all English-born farmers and farm workers, who had settled in the three Prairie Provinces by 1926, were to be found in Saskatchewan. By this time English settlers were concentrated across great swathes of south western Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta.

 

 

 

Canadian Pacific Railway Company station and grain

elevators at Wetaskiwin south of Edmonton, 1913.

 

 

  • Growing mechanization in England and rising imports of cheap food from abroad caused many English families to look increasingly to Canada to better their prospects. However, while the prairies were crying out for men with agricultural skills to operate ploughs and plant crops, the arrivals from England were destitute urban workers. They generally headed for the towns and cities in the Prairie Provinces, leaving the labourers of other nations to fill the regionís agricultural job vacancies.

 

 

 

Western Canada: The New Eldorado, 1890-1920,

Canadian government pamphlet.

 

 

  • One exceptional group of English urban workers went on to found the much-acclaimed Barr Colony in Saskatchewan in 1903. After a difficult beginning some 2,000 of them established a large English settlement north of Battleford. The achievements of the Barr colonists are remarkable since few had any farming experience. In the end boldness, determination and an unshakable desire to succeed saw them through their ordeals.

 

 

 

Tents located near the Immigration Hall in Saskatoon,

1903. The initial accommodation for the Barr colonists.

 

 

  • The gentlemen farmers from England who invested large amounts of capital in Albertaís cattle ranches helped greatly to stimulate its economy and economic development.

 

  • Ranching was initially centred in the Fort Macleod district but, with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, it became increasingly concentrated further north around Calgary. Upper and middle class Englishmen with pluckiness and money dominated its early development.

 

 

 

A painting, 1887, by Alfred Wyndham of his ranch n 1887

near Carseland, Alberta. He named it Dinton after

his home village in Wiltshire.

 

 

 

For further details see Chapters 4 and 5 of  Ignored but not Forgotten; Canadaís English Immigrants