Homestead Files

To encourage settlement in the west the Dominion Government offered a free homestead of 160 acres for a $10 registration fee. In order to receive the patent for the land the settler had to be a male 21 years of age or a woman who was the sole support of her family. Before being granted a patent the applicant had to be a British subject or a naturalized British subject, had to reside on the homestead for a period of time, usually six months of the year for three years, make improvements to the land by cultivating at least 30 acres of land, and erect a house worth at least $300.

A homestead file may consist of the following documents:

Application for entry: which shows name and signature of the applicant, place of birth and the nationality of the applicant, place of residence and the date of entry. Later applications listed the ages of family members. Applications for entry were not retained in every file.

Sworn statement in support of application for patent: this was signed by the homesteader providing proof that he had met the requirement of the Dominion Lands Act. The information provided includes the name, age and citizenship status of the homesteader, length of residence on the land and the number of family members residing with him, cultivation done on the land, stock held and the value of the applicants dwelling, buildings and other improvements. If the homesteader had been naturalized, the date of naturalization is usually written on the sworn statement. On the reverse side of the document are the sworn statements of two witnesses verifying the information provided by the homesteader.

Notification of patent: this is a notification from the Lands Branch to the homesteader that a patent was issued in his name and that he was eligible to apply for a certificate of title at the Land Registration district office. The date that the patent was issued and the postal address of the homesteader are given on this document.

Other documents that are sometimes in the files are declarations of abandonment, notification of cancellation of entry, inspectors’ reports, statutory declarations of the homesteader’s progress, copies of wills and naturalization certificates and correspondence regarding a variety of subjects, particularly seed grain liens or interpretation of homestead law.