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Homesteading - Seven Persons

Seven Persons - Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 3

Homesteading

The people who came to homestead were particularly from European countries where there were few opportunities to secure the ownership of land. It mattered not how hard they worked and saved. When posters and literature about western Canada told of free land homesteads of one hundred and sixty acres of virgin soil, - it seemed like an unbelievable offer. A farm of their own was a dream to be realized. People need dreams and these immigrants needed theirs.

To acquire a homestead an applicant had to be, or become a Canadian citizen, be between the ages of eighteen and seventy, file at a land office, which at the time of the opening of the Seven Persons area was in Lethbridge, pay a ten dollar registration fee, promise to break thirty acres of the land, (ten acres a year for three years), build a two wire fence around the holding, build a house, and live there for six months of each of three successive years. This was called proving".

Another one hundred and sixty acres, called a preemption could be gained by satisfying an inspector that the homestead was proven, and by paying an additional ten dollar registration fee. This was usually done, giving each contender or sod-buster, three hundred and twenty acres of his own from which to wrestle a livelihood. Dreams could not excel that of owning land.

What a time these new settlers must have had to find their farms. When they arrived from the immigrants' trains they looked upon an expanse of unbroken, unchanged prairie, a panorama reaching to the horizon, with not a road anywhere to guide them. If they had made an application, they would have had a land description, which was a numerical series, such as N.E. 28-11-7-4. Each learned to interpret these numbers.

The land was marked west of the fourth meridian in the Seven Persons area. It was divided into townships. These counted from the international border north, so the above II meant this was the eleventh row of townships. The 7 meant this was the seventh range of townships from the meridian, or in this case, the Saskatchewan border. Each township was divided into thirty-six sections, each a mile square. These were numbered from the bottom, right to left, then up a step, and back across, and so on. Every section had an iron stake at each of the four corners, bearing the land description. There was a wooden stake marking off the quarter sections, similarly marked.

It was a punishable offense to remove these stakes, but sometimes they were lost or taken, confusing those who needed them. Homesteaders became an ingenious. people who learned to find their allocations, and to construct straight and suitable fences along the borders of these.

These new Canadians came with hope and enthusiasm. They settled in the hamlet or on the land. Every quarter or half section of farm land was appropriated. This seemed to be the Promised Land.

Requirements demanded that services be increased. Another era of pioneers had begun, and these had a new address: Mr. and Mrs. New Canadian Seven Persons Alberta, Canada

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup