Organic. Off Grid. Treading Lightly.
If you think homesteading is hard now, imagine doing it in the 1920s in Western Canada. Especially if you were an unsuspecting naif who believed the propaganda sold by the Canadian government.
Recently, in Camden, Maine of all places, I found a gem of a historical document that brought me back to my Western Canadian roots.
Canada West was a propaganda publication put out by the Canadian government to draw settlers to the sparse nether regions of the country, namely Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. (Evidently there were propaganda publications for other parts of Canada as well).
The store being in Camden, the publication was not cheap. But I did manage to negotiate a few bucks off the price by telling my story (This is where I'm from! This is where my great grandparents homesteaded!), and I dug into my wallet for the cash. I'm glad I did because in scanning the internet I have found a few cover images of the publication, but no content.
This particular issue is undated but the content suggests that it is from around 1921. It is directed at Americans, as indicated by the list of agents on the inside cover.
Here are a couple of choice quotes:
- From "Hints for the Man about to Start" on the inner cover: "The newcomer may start for Western Canada during any month in the year. Railroads carry him to within a short distance of his new home. The country roads are good, and there is settlement in all parts, so that shelter is easily reached."
- "Western Canada's climate is one of its most valuable assets." (p. 4)
There are many more good 'uns, including descriptions of the role of women on the homestead.
For the Selin/Headington/Campbell/Dwyer clans, note the references on p. 39 to Canora, Kelvington, and Swan River and on p. 14 to Preeceville.
For your reading pleasure, click on the image at left.