Coming of the Settlers

By Steve Andrishak

During the very early 1900s, our district was virtually unsettled. About the only areas that were inhabited were the surrounding Indian Reserves.

When Alberta became a province in 1905, its main concern was to try and attract settlers to thousands of acres of unclaimed land throughout the province.

The province advertised land to prospective settlers throughout the world under the following conditions: The person applying for a homestead had to be at the head of the family or any male over 18 years of age in order to obtain his quarter section of Dominion land. He had to live on his quarter section for six months in each of three years and he had to make improvements on this land. He was able to purchase this land for $ 10, however in order to obtain rights to his quarter he had to appear in person at the Dominion Land Agency office for his district.

There were many advertising gimmicks used to attract the prospective settlers, such as - those which appeared in a little blue book distributed at that time. Its front cover read, "How Fortunes Are Made In Sunny Alberta" - where wheat is King - the best security on earth is the earth itself."

To thousands of people in many countries, this advertisement looked to be very attractive, and so they came. Some of the earliest settlers in our - district were people from the United States and from the British Isles. Next came the settlers from the Ukraine, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Germany and France as well as other countries. Some stayed and others became discouraged or were homesick for the land they left behind and eventually gave up their homestead rights for one reason or another.

Our first settlers started to arrive in 1906. Two of the earliest were Charles and Quint Hood. Others who came shortly after were Tom Aarbo, 0. J. Fish, Court and Jud Smith, John Babcock, William Schancel, Frank Pinder, Charles Magnusson, C. J. Markstad, P. J. Keitges, Lloyd and Frank Lambright, Oscar Holthe, John Hobden, Grant Arnold, Harry Day, J. B. Caskey, William Milholland, Nicholas Boos, E. A. Bullis and Charles Bartling. In most cases, they brought their families. This is just a sampling of our early settlers, there were many others.

These settlers endured many hardships. They were not used to our long, severe winters. Some were very poor when they got here and had a difficult time to make ends meet.

Many different nationalities settled in our district. To the west were the Norwegian and Swedish settlements, to the south came the people from the Ukraine. The many settlers of mixed origin got along well with each other and helped one another over the rough times which were many. They worked hard to clear their land so they could cultivate it and plant their crops and gardens. Deer, moose and elk were plentiful, as well as game birds, and this helped many to solve some of their food problems.

It took many years of hard work and eventually they were able to stock their farms and pay for much needed machinery.

We should be proud and thankful for these early settlers - they helped to lay the foundation for all future generations.

Our early Pioneers were hard workers and were very determined, otherwise they couldn't have endured their hardships, which were many.

An interesting fact is that Elk Point, Alberta is approximately 40 miles from Vermilion, Alberta, and Elk Point, South Dakota is about the same distance from Vermilion, South Dakota.