4 responses

  1. I’ve very much enjoyed your photos and comments over the past couple of years; and I’m sorry that my first comment here is going to cast a bit of a shadow. These posters (apart from enticing potential immigrants with an entirely unrealistic view of farming on the Plains), implied that the plains were empty and just waiting for settlement. You’d be surprised how many Canadian history texts still maintain that pretence. The posters make a very pretty curtain to draw across the conditions that made settlement possible: the deliberate policies of aboriginal relocation, starvation, confinement, and the kidnapping of children into years of abuse and illness in church-run residential schools. If you aren’t already aware of the book “Clearing the Plains”, you might be interested in this link to a story about both the book and the song that was inspired by it.


    On the other hand, the posters are entirely truthful in announcing their preference for immigrants with a peaches-and-cream complexion. You may already be familiar with the links between Alberta and Oklahoma, such as the black immigrants who settled Amber Valley. Their treatment was almost on a level with would-be immigrants to Australia who were turned away at the border because they failed the language test. (At the time, immigration officers were allowed to administer a language test in the language of their choice – if an applicant didn’t meet with their approval, they tended to administer that test in Gaelic.) http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/200/301/ic/can_digital_collections/athabasca/html/amber/index.htm

    cheers, and thanks again for a great blog,
    Jennie Wright
    Lansdowne, Ontario

    • Hi, Jennie, I very much appreciate your thought-provoking comments. Each of our countries — the U.S. and Canada — have cultural myths associated with them and the contrasting reality of actual historical events. It’s hard not to be aware of the mostly awful history of each country’s dealings with aboriginal peoples. That some immigrants were not met with open arms is not a surprise, notwithstanding “official” glosses to the contrary. I appreciate the links you’ve posted and the mention of the book. As we sometimes say down in the States, thanks for keeping it real! Best wishes, Brett

  2. Yes, at least the narrative is beginning to change, although we have a long way to go. (By the way, I’m not criticising your posting these photos at all – I hope that wasn’t the impression I gave!)


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