Your Nest in the West

Your Nest in the West by Isabelle Poulin is a timeline for Prairie immigration. All of the events take place between the election of Wilfrid Laurier and the beginning of World War I. Some of the events in the timeline occur before the election of Wilfrid Laurier. I kept them in my timeline because I feel that they were important factors in the Prairie Immigration time period in Canadian History.

Prairie Immigration Events

Arrival of Home Children

1890 - 1900

Thousands of British children were sent to Canada on ships. The children were sent in the earlier years of prairie settlement. The children brought to Canada were called "Home Children". Majority of these children were living in orphanages or were unwanted by their poor parents. Unfortunately, some children were taken away from their homes and sent to Canada by the British authorities without their parents even knowing. The children were sent to the Prairie Region of Canada because it was believed to be an area where the Home Children could eat well and learn useful skills. Many Canadian farming families adopted these British children. Some people adopted them and treated them like the children they were, but others used these children as cheap labour. Many of these children did not enjoy even the bare necessities of life in Canada and some were not even given enough food to sustain themselves. (Note: This event did not start before Laurier was elected but it continued after he was elected.)

Thousands of Ukrainians leave Ukraine for new life in Edmonton


By 1891 the living conditions in Ukraine had become very harsh for the middle and lower class. Thousands of Ukrainians chose to flee from Ukraine for hopes of a better life in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Some of the more important push factors to get such a large number of people to leave one country were repeated crop failures, famine and overpopulation. The prospect of free farmland in Edmonton served as a great pull factor for them to immigrate to Canada. The Ukrainians could improve their lifestyle by moving to Canada. This was one of the first events that lead to a massive population increase in Western Canada.

Americans move to Canadian Prairies


Many Americans moved to the Canadian Prairies in 1892. These Americans were motivated to move to Canada because the American Government had closed the homestead frontier of good land early 1892. This upset many Americans and they searched for good land, which they found in the Canadian prairies. The Canadian prairies were a great idea for the new American settlers because the Americans were promised an area of land that had fertile soil that was perfect for growing grain. The grain prices were rising at this time because of the high demand, so it was one of the best crops to make a good profit off of. The Americans who immigrated to Canada added to the already growing population of the prairies. Most of these American settlers brought a good source of wealth with them when they came to Canada.

Wilfrid Laurier Elected as Prime Minister

July 1896

Wilfrid Laurier was leader of the Liberal Party. He was in office as Prime Minister for over fifteen years, July 1896 to October 1911. One of his most recognized acts as Prime Minister was adding Yukon, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to Confederation.

Clifford Sifton Election

November 1896

Late 1896, Clifford Sifton was elected as the Minister of the Interior. His most important role was to manage the immigration into the interior. One of Sifton's goal as Minister was to populate the prairies with many immigrants. He launched recruitment programs to lure people away from the cities to the less populated prairies. This program targeted mainly people living in Europe and the United States. The people in these places were good farmers were being brought up. Sifton attracted lots of controversy by welcoming all the new immigrants.

Clifford Sifton's Open-Door Policy

December 1896

In November 1896, Clifford Sifton was announced as the Minister of the Interior. When he was announced as the Minister of the Interior, he also announced an "open-door" policy for immigrants to the prairies. As a result of this policy, a largely diverse group of immigrants settled in the prairie region. These new groups of immigrants included Ukrainians, Austrians, Russians, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians, and many other groups. This made the west the most diverse area of Canada. Since the British made up one-third of the population of the west, the open-door policy came with some controversy. With the welcoming all the new immigrants, some Canadians were not comfortable as their customs differed greatly.

Number of Homestead Entries Rise


There was a large rise in 1897 of homestead entries. In the following fifteen years, only two of the years were the number of homestead entries decrease. This was very important; the increase of homestead entries in 1897 was a result of increase advertising for immigrants to come to Canada. At this time there was also an increase of push factors in other countries, which helped with the number of people immigrating. The large amount of immigration in the prairies, which started in 1897, helped increase, the numbers of agricultural farms in the areas where people settled and help Canada's economy grow rapidly. The prairie region of Canada quickly became of the world's top economic areas because of the increased growth of grain and many other agricultural products.

The Doukhobors


The Doukhobors were a religious group that lived in Russia. The Doukhobors fled Russia because they were against some of the decisions their government made. The Doukhobors did not want to serve in the army as it went against their religious beliefs. Sadly, it was a requirement that Russians contribute to their army. This was a large push factor for them. The Doukhobors were pulled towards Canada because it was known as a free land where they would be safe to practice their religion. Canada offered the Doukhobors land and excused them from military duties. The government assisted them on their journey to the prairies and granted them a sufficient amount of land. By 1899, over seven thousand Doukhobors had settled in the prairies.

Boer War

October 11 1899

The Boer War was between the British Empire, the South African State and the Orange Free State (also known as the Transvaal). The English wanted to expand their land as well as collect the diamonds and gold in the Transvaal. Because of Canada's close ties with Britain they had to participate in this skirmish.

Government Report on Immigrant Recruitment


In 1900 the Canadian Government wrote a report about advertising and immigration to the prairies. The report mentioned that the Canadian Government ran advertisements in over seven thousand American newspapers, which had a total circulation of over seven million. This report also outlined the government's system in which they sent American delegates to Manitoba to look at the land. These delegates would return to America and report on their findings. The government paid for the delegate trips and the transportation they used was the Canadian Pacific Railway. This showed how desperate the Canadian Government was for new immigrants and to raise the population of the country.

Albert's Population Grows


In 1901 Alberta's population had grown substantially. By early 1901, Alberta's population had reached seventy-three thousand. This was quite the accomplishment since the government had been working very hard and campaigning for many years to have a higher population in the Prairie Provinces. The government predicted that within the next ten years, the population would top three hundred, seventy-four thousand people.

Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces


In 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan officially became provinces in Canada. The two provinces became official while Wilfrid Laurier was Prime Minister. The creation of these provinces help lure more immigrants to moving there because they would have a stronger sense of being a part of a community. With the creation of the provinces people could now say they live in a general area, and people would be more likely to know where you were from if it was from a larger area rather than a small town.

Saskatchewan Population Multiplies


By 1911 the population of Saskatchewan had grown quite substantially. The population had almost grown to five times the size it was in 1901. At the end of 1911, the population of Saskatchewan was nearing the half a million mark. The population was thought to continue to increase rapidly for the next few years as immigrants keep arriving.

Record Number of Immigrants


1913 set the record for immigration. In one year, 1913, four hundred thousand, eight hundred seventy immigrants came to Canada. This set the record for immigration, a record, that to this day, remains unbroken.

War Begins


In 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. This automatically drew Canada into the conflict due to the close ties they still had with Britain. Within the year, the number of immigrants dropped down to thirty-seven thousand, less than one-tenth of the annual volume from 1912 and 1913.

Start of World War I

July 1914

World War I began in July of 1914 and finished November of 1918. There were many causes that began this war.