Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Canadian Checkerboard - Part 1

In the past year I've accumulated dozens of maps. A friend had grandparents who tried homesteading on the Canadian Prairies and gave me some remarkable maps showing lands that were available via the Dominion Lands Act. Here is a 1917 map showing lands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The map is 3 ft x 2 ft. I was able to scan it at a high resolution. Here are some readable details.

The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 was based on the Homestead Act in the United States. Square shaped 160-acre parcels of land (much of it taken from indigenous tribes without compensation) were made available to settlers in return for a small registration fee. They had to establish farms and build permanent dwellings in return. Immigrants from Europe were encouraged to settle on these lands, partially out of fear of the United States (where most of the good land had been taken by then) trying to lay claim to them. Some of the land was set aside for soldiers.

Red numbers indicate the number of quarter sections available in each 6 x 6 mile township. The green area is Palliser's Traingle, an arid region where exemptions were made so farmers could buy adjacent lots and double the size of their homesteads, increasing their chances at successful agriculture.  Railroad companies owned the land within 20 miles of their tracks so townships adjacent to the tracks had no numbers while nearby ones had smaller numbers. Here is the legend.
I'm not sure what part of the act was discontinued or what "O. in C." refers to.

For contrast here is a more sparse area along the Peace River in northern Alberta.
I have more of these maps and will show them in another post or two. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

chrispycon said...

O in C most likely refers to Order in Council.