A Homestead on the Boundless Prairie, Western Canada
Postcards from the Past, PC 261
I can't explain my fascination with land records. The majority of my ancestors were working class people and not landowners. Unlike many of the people I encounter in my work with the genealogy collection here at the Central Library, I cannot go back and find the homestead land. The one ancestor who did apply for a homestead didn't stay. There was, of course, my ggg grandfather, the original immigrant to Canada, who got land from the Canada Company. Boy, I was excited when I finally found the entries for his property in the Ontario Land Records index (available at the library, of course). It wasn't long, though before his family up and headed west to work on the railroad in British Columbia. Not a farmer in the bunch!
Despite the paucity of information in the land records for my family, I have found that for people who settled and stayed, land records can tell you a whole lot about your ancestors. Homestead records can contain pages and pages of information about the land and the people who filed for the homestead. At the very least, land records can help you place your people, which can be an important key to finding other records about them. At Calgary Public Library we have a number of resources to help you track your ancestors' land records. For example, we have the Ontario land records index, the index to Crown land grants in Quebec, and the microfilm finding aid to Alberta homestead records, which includes the township registers. (The index is also available online at the Alberta Genealogical Society website(http://abgensoc.ca/homestead)
Our postcard collection includes some interesting examples of promotional cards created by the Canadian government as advertisements for the land available to settlers in Alberta. The card illustrating this entry is just such a one. The verso reads:" 160 Acres Farms in Western Canada Free. Good Schools. Splendid Climate. Rich Soil. Splendid Pasturage. Land for Cattle. Excellent Dairying. Particulars may be obtained from any Canadian Government Agent or from Mr.W.D. Scott. Superintendent of Immigration.Ottawa. Mr. W.T.R. Preston, Commissioner of Emigration, 11-12 Charing Cross, London W.C. England." We've noticed that none of these postcards is a winter scene.