Essay about The Colonization of Western Canada

Essay about The Colonization of Western Canada

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By the mid 19th century, Canada was taking its first steps as a new colony in the British Empire. The Canadian government was faced with several challenges at the time, John A. MacDonald, the Prime Minister, had a plan to ensure that the Dominion of Canada's first century was a successful one. A major component of this plan was the establishment of a stable population in the West who worked the lands to create a strong agricultural economy. This agenda was not without its obstacles and conflict, but eventually, by the 1900's, the goal was essentially achieved.

The government took several steps to prepare for immigrants in the west, for the size of a population that they wanted, a certain infrastructure was needed. In 1870 they begin buying rights to the land from the Hudson Bay Company, at the same time Britain handed the rights to much of the land to the colony. Between 1871 and 1877 the government negotiated several treaties (called the Numbered Treaties, 1-7) with the aboriginal and Métis peoples who populated the area. They created an infrastructure of laws and created the RCMP to police the area. In 1872 with the Dominion Lands Act, colonists could buy 160 acres for 10$, of which they retained full possession if they occupied the land for 3 years. They also kept some of the territories to sell at full price or use for other projects; for example, when Canadian Pacific built the railroad in 1885, the government gave them 10.4 million hectares, on top of paying them 63 500 000$ for their work and lending the company 35 000 000$.

It was during this time that the first obstacles to the government's progress first surfaced. The Métis people began to fear for their culture, rights and their lands as colonists sta...


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...ust before the First World War the government begins to push Westerners to diversify. But with the beginning of the war, the West returns once again to a wheat-based economy because of the increase in demand. In the 1920's with new tariffs etc, the prairies experience higher costs, and their dissatisfaction creates a movement of farmers on the political scene, that is, political parties founded by farmers. By the 1930's and the Great depression, wheat and flour are only worth 30% in exportations compared to 1929, causing poverty and unemployment in the West, luckily the Second World War creates demand for wheat once again.

The colonization of the West is not without its obstacles; culture clash, fears of assimilation, periods of poverty, military action and government corruption, all of these contribute to a colorful history of an intricate part of our nation.

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