To endure and become humble : myth and reality of the climate of the prairies
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Historians and geographers have focused on the study of the images of the West. Their studies have demonstrated that the images of the West were as important as reality itself in understanding the history of western Canada and the western Canadian identity. Both the region’s history and identity have been influenced by the images of the West. Another way to look at the history and identity of the West is through climate. This thesis examines the images of the climate of western Canada in order to obtain new insight into western Canadian history and western Canadian identity. This new attempt is considered from three perspectives. First, the way in which Canadian expansionists advertised the West is described. In the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, Canada needed to dispel negative images of the western climate in order to attract millions of homesteaders. The climate portrayed in immigration pamphlets was all positive. Secondly, the actual experience of pioneer homesteaders is investigated by examining pioneer questionnaires, recorded interviews, and diaries. Settlers encountered the harsh reality of the climate. The real perception of the climate was very different from the idealized climate. Finally, literature and arts of the 1920s and 1930s demonstrate how the climate of western Canada was viewed at that time. The expansionists’ views were still influential even after the settlement boom. The actual perception was minimized by the ideal climate myth.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)