Search for "prairies"

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Moosomin

Moosomin, Saskatchewan, incorporated as a town in 1887, population 2,743 (2016 census), 2,485 (2011 census). The town of Moosomin is located in southeastern Saskatchewan 15 km west of the Manitoba border.

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Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie, Alberta, incorporated as a city in 1958, population 64,141 (2021 census), 63,166 (2016 census). The city of Grande Prairie is located 456 km northwest of Edmonton and takes its name from the large prairie that lies to the east, north and west of it. The city is the business and transportation centre of Alberta’s Peace River region.

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Henry Kelsey

Henry Kelsey, explorer, fur trader, sailor (born c. 1667 in East Greenwich near London, England; died 1724 in East Greenwich, England). Kelsey was an explorer and trader who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for nearly 40 years. He helped establish the Company’s fur trade operations at York Fort on the west coast of Hudson Bay and at Fort Albany on James Bay. Kelsey is best known for his two-year journey from Hudson Bay to the western interior between 1690 and 1692, making him the first European to see the Prairies. His goal was to encourage Indigenous peoples living inland to travel to York Fort to trade their furs.

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Saskatchewan (Province)

Saskatchewan is part of the Prairie region and is the only province with entirely artificial boundaries. It is bordered by the US to the south, the Northwest Territories to the north, and Manitoba and Alberta to the east and west respectively. It was created from the Northwest Territories in 1905, at the same time as Alberta, and shares with that province the distinction of having no coast on salt water. The name, which was first used officially for a district of the Northwest Territories in 1882, is derived from an anglicized version of a Cree word, kisiskâciwanisîpiy, meaning “swiftly flowing river.”

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Dr. Jósef Olesków Publishes First Promotional Pamphlet

Ukrainian agronomy professor Dr. Jósef Olesków (born 28 September 1860; died 18 October 1903) published two pamphlets in 1895 encouraging Ukrainian agricultural settlement in Canada. Olesków thought the Canadian Prairie was perfect for the excess rural population of Galicia. His efforts led to a more targeted flow of Ukrainians to Canada than anywhere else, eventually making Ukrainians the largest Slavic group in Canada.

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Greater Prairie Chicken

The greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) is a type of grouse. Native to central North America, the greater prairie chicken is extirpated in Canada, but continues to live in parts of the United States, in particular in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. In Canada, the greater prairie chicken lived in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as in southern and western Ontario. It was first listed as extirpated in 1990. The bird’s disappearance in Canada was due primarily to the conversion of its natural habitat, grassland, to farmland. The greater prairie chicken is culturally significant to Siksika (Blackfoot) and Plains Cree First Nations in Canada, and lives on in their prairie chicken powwow dance.

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Founding of Settlement Block in Dauphin, Manitoba

In 1896, Dr. Jósef Olesków arrived near Dauphin Lake, Manitoba. He determined that it would be perfect for a group of 30 families that he was organizing to move to Canada from Bukovyna and Galicia. They arrived in 1897 and worked with the railway and at sawmills to save money to establish farms. A growing number of Ukrainian settlers survived bitterly cold winters and an 1899 prairie fire that took many homes and barns. By 1913, the predominantly Ukrainian community had become the government seat and commercial centre for the Northern Judicial District.

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Former Minister Sifton Praises Immigration of “Stalwart Peasants”

Sir Clifford Sifton was the federal minister of the interior and superintendent-general of Indian Affairs from 1896 until 1905. He initiated the program that raised the number of immigrants to Canada from around 16,000 to more than 140,000 per year. He specifically sought Central and Eastern European farm families. In 1922, when asked about bringing so many non-British settlers to Canada, Sifton said, “I think a stalwart peasant in a sheep-skin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children, is good quality.”

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Opening of First Permanent Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada

In 1897, a group of settlers from Bukovyna established homes in Gardenton, Manitoba. St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Canada’s first permanent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was consecrated there in 1899. It is designed in the three-chamber style typical of small churches in northern Bukovyna. Recognized as both a Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site and a National Historic Site, it is the oldest existing Ukrainian church in Canada. 

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Census Reports 75,432 Ukrainians in Canada

In the 1901 Canadian census, there were 5,682 Ukrainians in Canada. By 1911, the number had soared to 75,432, or 1 per cent of Canada’s population. Much of this was due to a federal program, begun in 1896, that sought to settle the Prairies largely with Eastern European farmers. A massive advertising program promoted Canada as the “Last Best West” and offered households 160 acres (64.7 hectares) of land for only $10. Thousands of immigrants came to Canada.

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First Ukrainian Canadian Newspaper Published

A multilingual teacher, businessman and town councillor, Cyril Genik (born 1857 in Galicia; died 1925 in Winnipeg) was tasked by Dr. Jósef Olesków with bringing a second contingent of settlers to Canada later in 1896. Genik settled in Winnipeg. In 1896, he was hired as an immigration agent, making him the first full-time Ukrainian Canadian in the federal civil service. He also started Canada’s first Ukrainian-language newspaperKanadyiskyi farmer (Canadian farmer) — in 1903. Known in the Ukrainian Canadian community as “the Czar of Canada,” Genik was named a Person of National Historic Significance in 1995.

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Biggest Ukrainian Canadian Newspaper Begins Publication

The Ukrainian Voice began publication in Winnipeg in March 1910. The weekly, Ukrainian-language newspaper was soon available across Canada. It became a respected source for political, social, religious and other news, and helped to build and enrich the Ukrainian Canadian community. The paper encouraged readers to support education and to participate in Canadian politics. In 1981, it merged with Canadian Farmer. It ceased publication in 2018, after 110 years in business. Its archives are now held at the University of Manitoba.

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Bilingual Schools Abolished in Manitoba

Criticized for slowing the assimilation of Ukrainian children, bilingual schools (in English and Ukrainian) were abolished in Manitoba in 1916, despite Ukrainian opposition. Saskatchewan followed suit in 1918. The schools were never allowed in Alberta. After the First World War, community-run schools expanded rapidly to preserve Ukrainian language and culture. Pioneer institutes also produced many community leaders. Ukrainian Canadians sustained a robust culture, including literature, folk music, church music and folk dance.

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Cowboys and Cowgirls in Canada

Cowboys and cowgirls are people employed to tend cattle or horses. The first cowboys to work on the Canadian prairies arrived in the 1870s. The traditional cowboy lifestyle has since given way to a more contained, corporate model of ranching. But the romanticized image of the cowboy on the “open range” lives on as a symbol of the prairies. Today, the terms cowboy and cowgirl can refer to ranch workers or rodeo competitors.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Census Reports more Ukrainian Canadians Living in Cities and Towns

The 1971 census reported that there were 580,660 Canadians of Ukrainian descent, making up 2.7 per cent of the country’s population. Only 57.8 per cent lived on the Prairies, and 75 per cent of all Ukrainian Canadians were urban. The proportion of Ukrainian Canadians in agriculture had fallen to 11.2 per cent, slightly above the Canadian average. The number of Ukrainian Canadians working in trades, sales, teaching, medicine and law had increased since the last census.

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Geography of Manitoba

Manitoba is divided by three of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These three regions are the Hudson Bay Lowland, the Canadian Shield and the  Interior Plains. Most of Manitoba’s population is concentrated in the southeastern corner of the province, in the Interior Plains physiographic region. This region is also where most of Manitoba’s arable land is located. By comparison, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Canadian Shield are generally not suitable for agriculture. Churchill, Manitoba’s only saltwater port, is located in the Hudson Bay Lowland. Hydroelectric power, freshwater fishing, metal mines and some forestry are located in the Canadian Shield region.

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Peasant Farm Policy

From 1889 to 1897, the Canadian government’s Peasant Farm Policy set limits on Indigenous agriculture on the Prairies. The policy included rules about the types of tools First Nations farmers could use on reserve lands. It also restricted how much they grew and what they could sell. The Peasant Farm Policy was built on the belief that Indigenous farmers had to gradually evolve into modern farmers. It also reduced these farmers’ ability to compete with settlers on the open market. The policy ultimately impeded the growth and development of First Nations farms. As a result, First Nations never realized their agricultural potential.

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History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies

The Canadian Prairies were peopled in six great waves of migration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Between 1640 and 1840, several thousand European and Canadian fur traders arrived, followed by several hundred British immigrants. They created dozens of small outposts and a settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest part of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted mainly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest wave was drawn from many nations, mostly European. It occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s. It lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere. It has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.

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Sir Clifford Sifton

Sir Clifford Sifton, PC, KCMG, KC, lawyer, politician, businessman (born 10 March 1861 near Arva, Canada West; died 17 April 1929 in New York City, New York). Sir Clifford Sifton was one of the ablest politicians of his time. He is best known for his aggressive promotion of immigration to settle the Prairie West. Under his leadership, immigration to Canada increased significantly; from 16,835 per year in 1896 to 141,465 in 1905. A Liberal politician of considerable influence and vision, he was also a controversial figure. Sifton promoted a single education system and opposed the public funding of denominational schools, largely disregarding the concerns of French Catholics. He also showed little interest in the Indigenous peoples of the Prairies; he oversaw cuts to Indigenous education and approved Treaty 8. His brother, Arthur Lewis Sifton, was premier of Alberta from 1910 to 1917.