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British North America


The Dominion of Canada contains seven provinces, of which Manitoba] is the central, and, from an agricultural point of view, the most important. The Province of Manitoba has an area of 116,021 square miles, or about 74,000,000 acres, about equal to the combined areas of England, Scotland and Ireland.

To an agricultural country the quality of the soil is of the first importance. Professor Tanner, well known in the front ranks of English authorities, says of it: “I am bound to state that, although we have hitherto considered the black earth of Central Russia the richest soil in the world, that land has now to }rield its distinguished position to the rich, deep, black soils of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. Here it is that the champion soils of the world are to be found.”

But yet Manitoba is not entirely agricultural, nor does it consist exclusively of prairie land. Its forests are ample enough for fuel and for ornament; its rivers swarm with fish, and its lakes—Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Winnipegosis—tempt the tourist and the fisherman from less favoured regions.

The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway was, to Manitoba, the one thing necessary to its advance. Within the confines of the province there are to-day over 1500 miles of railway lines, and 1000 schools are under the control of the Government.

Winnipeg, on the Red River, is the capital of Manitoba and the chief city of the whole North-West of Canada. Lying half-way between Montreal and Vancouver, the Atlantic and the Pacific, it is rapidly becoming the commercial as well as the geographical centre of the Dominion. In iS76 its population was 3240; to-day it is considerably over 40,000. The land survey system of Manitoba is virtually the same as that prevailing throughout the whole of the North-West Territories. Free-grant land is still available, and of a quality in no way inferior to that which is offered for sale. This is guaranteed by the system of land survey, by which the Territory is divided into townships, these again into sections, and into quarter sections of 160 acres each. These divisions are numbered from 1 to 36, and, broadly speaking, the odd numbers are reserved for free grants, while the even numbers are the property of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, the Hudson Bay Company, or are reserved for school and road purposes, as the ultimate needs of the district may demand.

The conditions attaching to the free-errant lands are few and simple, and are mainly intended as a guarantee for the legitimate agricultural use of the land, and to prevent mere land speculation. For the first three years of occupation, the settler is required to live upon the land for at least six months of each year, and during that same period to cultivate at least 15 acres each year, amounting to 45 acres during the three years. These simple stipulations being complied with, he receives the patent for his homestead, and it becomes his absolute freehold property. This method of acquiring land is usually adopted by settlers possessing small capital. For those with larger funds at their disposal, prairie land may be purchased in any quantity at prices ranging from 10s. per acre upward, or improved homesteads may be bought. In any case, the land needs no clearing, as the virgin soil is ripe for the plough.

Emigration to the North-West Territories of Canada has for many years proceeded apace, and not alone from Great Britain, but from all the countries of Europe. Thus we find Icelandic, Scandinavian, Russian, and German settlements in various parts of the Territories. Without exception these colonies are prosperous and their people contented and industrious, while their sobriety and intelligence are a guarantee of their future success. The seasons in Manitoba are well marked. The summer is bright, clear, and warm, and the winter cold; but throughout the winter the sun shines nearly every day, and there is seldom any wind. The extreme dryness of the air altogether robs the cold of its discomfort. The snow is never deep, and the ordinary work of farm and homestead goes forward without interruption.

Although the extent of forest lands in Manitoba has prevented the fuel problem from becoming acute, the successful search for coal has proved eminently satisfactory. It is estimated that between Winnipeg and the Rocky Mountains there are some 65,000 square miles of coal-bearing strata, and the Government has arranged that this coal shall be available at prices ranging from 1os. to 20s. per ton according to locality.

Since the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, emigration to the Province has proceeded apace. While farmers, farm-labourers, and female domestic servants arc classes most in demand, very large numbers of men and women, without any special knowledge, but with good health, energy, and determination, have become successful settlers, anti have steadily improved their position from the start.

The dairy industry in Manitoba is making very rapid strides. Creameries and cheese - factories are established throughout the country, whose output is steadily increasing. In 1S96 the output of cheese alone amounted to 986,000 pounds. Manitoba and the provinces westward are rapidly becoming the great wheat-growing countries of the world. In 1896 the area under wheat was 1,081,960 acres, and the aggregate yield 14,433,706 bushels A careful estimate made by the superintendent of the Government experimental farm at Brandon of the cost of growing an acre of wheat is £1, 12s. 4d. This was the result of an actual experiment on a yield of 29 bushels. The quality of the Manitoba wheat is already known throughout the world, “No. 1 Hard” ranking higher than any other variety.

The Province still affords a vast field for the activity of experimental farmers who can command sufficient capital for the primary operations, for the supply of implements, and to maintain himself and his family during the first year. For such, Manitoba has abundant room and the assurance of success and independence. The early settlers were all of this class, and they had to confront difficulties which have now been removed by the completion of the railway. The cost of transportation is now less than one-half of what it was twenty years ago. Timber for building can he procured with the greatest ease and economy, while the necessaries of life can be purchased on the spot and at the most favourable prices. To-day, the settler with £100 ready money is more advantageously placed than he would have been with double that amount twelve or fifteen years ago, and in all parts of Manitoba farm produce can be readily disposed of within a few miles of any settler at the nearest railway station.

Along the line of railway and of its branches new settlements are growing up almost day by day as the stream of emigration penetrates north and south and 1W11 way enterprise follows in its track.

The Province of Manitoba contains all the elements which can secure for it a prominent position, not alone in the Dominion of Canada, but in the world at large. With the industry of its inhabitants and its own natural resources it is not difficult to predict for it an increasingly prosperous future.

The characteristics which command success in Manitoba are largely the same as in other countries. A ready willingness to adopt the new methods of a new country and a tireless industry are the main factors; and while the possession of capital is no small advantage, there are to-day thousands of prosperous farmers who started with absolutely nothing, or even in debt. The classes who emigrate from the old countries are obviously the energetic, the enterprising, and the adventurous, and it will be long before such as these fail to find a home and a welcome in Manitoba.

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