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Attitudes of Canadian government and railway companies to settlement in north-central Saskatchewan : a spatio-temporal analysis of policy, 1867-1931



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My research will seek to affirm the factors that influenced the pattern and pace of populating a region between present day Prince Albert and North Battleford, Saskatchewan, during the period 1867 and 1931. A settlement boom had occurred in Western Canada during this era, and previous studies have sought to ascertain the factors that accounted for the boom and why the phenomenon had not occurred earlier. To date, studies addressing this issue have considered the Federal Policies for land, immigration and railways, several global push-pull factors, and the physical variables of land capability and climate as the primary factors affecting the settlement boom. In examining the history of settlement of Western Canada, no study to date, however, has linked the inventory of land with the flow of immigrants into the region. It is exactly this gap that this study addresses. This study will utilize the inventory of the allocation of agricultural land to the population that first settled the region during this era, and will examine the timing and pace of homestead settlement in relation to the timing of all other forms of land alienation for the purposes of agriculture. These include the land sales of the purchased homesteads; pre-empted homesteads; school districts; the railway companies; land companies; and the Hudson’s Bay Company. This, furthermore, points to an important conjecture regarding government and railway policies that actually impeded settlement. Lewis (1981), Lewis and Robinson (1984) and Ward (1994) introduced the notion that the late railway branch-lines construction, and the late sale of pre-empted lands, may have acted as impediments to settlement. This suggestion has not been supported one way or another. In addition, the Railway’s late selection of lands they were entitled to from the railway land grant reserve, and the subsequent late availability of sale of these lands to agriculturists have not been addressed. My research is intends to affirm these premises. The linkages between the different forms of land alienation will be shown here as a factor that contributed to the order and pace of settlement.



railways, immigration, land policies, settlement



Master of Arts (M.A.)







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