Free 160 Acres. Western Canada Farm Lands.
Where … And … How And All About It.
Information And Facts For The Prospective Settler
by Hon. Clifford Sifton, [Minister Of The Interior)
Canada had this large expanse of unsettled land in the West and the traditional immigration of settlers from Britain and the U.S. was not filling the bill. The Wilfred Laurier Government, through the efforts of the Hon. Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, embarked on an ambitious recruitment campaign targeting Eastern Europeans with an agricultural background. He commissioned a promotional brochure, including a map which is described in the article “the 1903 Map Story”.
The brochure contained questions and answers about the land and was widely circulated. Some questions dealt with basic information like climate, taxes, schools, rainfall, what fruits and vegetables thrive in the area, etc.
Most of the questions were far more interesting:
- does the government tax individuals if he lets his cattle run on government lands;
- where can an individual get material for a house;
- is there timber;
- can one take up a quarter-section for himself and another for a friend to come afterwards;
- how much money does one need to start grain farming;
- how will I know what to do and where to go;
- do people speak English;
The brochure contained valuable information about settlers’ effects and what they were allowed to bring, quarantining of settlers’ cattle, homestead duties, terms of sale with a discount offered for payment in cash, and other helpful material.
The campaign was a huge success, attracting more than a million immigrants 1896-1905, thanks in large part to the innovative brochure and accompanying map. In a few short years Canada began to emerge as a cultural mosaic (as it has continued).