Building a Life in Alberta

archival photograph, Glenbow Poster 21
"Own Your Own Home in Canada." Glenbow Archives, Poster 21.

Newcomers found that the cheerful depictions of farm life in the Canadian Pacific Railway's posters did not always match reality.

First of all, not all immigrants received the free land they had been promised. Only a small portion of land had been reserved for free homesteads; most was available through purchase only. Unable to afford land or farming equipment, new immigrants worked in industrial jobs like railway construction.

Life was not easy for those with land, either. Unpredictable weather like droughts and blizzards led to crop failure. Settlers had economic grievances, too, including high taxes and low return on their products. But for most immigrants, returning home was not an option. They pressed on.

archival photograph PAA P459
Homesteader's shack near Lloydminster, circa 1906. Provincial Archives of Alberta, P459.

artifact: Livelton family photograph
Livelton family. Photograph courtesy of Esther Livelton.

last review/update: Jun. 11, 2015