Ethnic Block Settlements 1850s to 1990s
Today Canada prides itself on being a multicultural country, open and welcoming to all immigrants. We are viewed as a country where you can become Canadian, but at the same time maintain your cultural roots. While multiculturalism did not become an official government policy until 1971, it was the settlement experience in Saskatchewan between 1870 and 1930 that actually created the first multicultural society in Canada. The immigration policies of Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, and the advertising campaigns of the railways created a prairie landscape which was dotted by ethnic bloc settlements.
In some cases the settlement patterns in Saskatchewan were the result of advertising campaigns and government programs, but they also developed due to wealthy patrons or companies attempting to establish settlements. While Sifton made a concerted effort to attract East European settlers he was also willing to modify the Dominion Lands Act to accommodate the efforts of Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, to resettle the Doukhobors on communal settlements in Saskatchewan. There were also several land companies at work in the United States attempting to attract American settlers to specific areas of the province.
Whether it was a distinct cultural group, such as the Barr Colonists, or simply family and friends of a similar culture coming together, the settlement map of Saskatchewan soon represented several distinct cultural groups. Even today many Saskatchewan communities reflect unique cultural origins.
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|Image courtesy of the Atlas of Saskatchewan Project - Millennium Edition. cUniversity of Saskatchewan 1999.|