Tag Archives: free farms

1870s TV Ad for Free Farms in Western Canada

Reid Dickie

A delightful impossibility!

In 1870 the Dominion of Canada bought Rupert’s Land, which was pretty much all of western Canada, from the Hudson’s Bay Company. After passing the Dominion Lands Act in 1872, the government embarked on an advertising campaign to entice people from Europe, the United States and eastern Canada to come to western Canada and take advantage of the free land and unbound opportunity. This campaign went on well into the 20th century. I gathered together ten of the Dominion’s ads from the period, several of them covers for pamphlets about Canada that, more often than not, wildly exaggerated the potential of the prairies. Basically, they were propaganda. In that same tradition, I envisioned what the Dominion’s TV ad might have looked like in the 1870s. Click the poster to watch.

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Last of the Best – Canada West

Lush promises and a bright future guaranteed on the Canadian prairie with a free farm to boot in this 1907 promotional poster!

Another poster from around the same era with the same intent.

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Getting Crowded? Free Farms in Western Canada

Cover of 1911 pamphlet aimed at luring American settlers to Canada, issued by the Canadian Department of the Interior.

Watch my short video on free farms.

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Canada West – Homes for Millions

This promotional poster touting western Canada as the last and best place in the world to farm came out between 1896 and 1911 while Sydney Fisher was federal Minister of Agriculture. Still offering free farms and stooks as far as the eye can see.

Watch my video on free farms

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Canada West – More Free Farms

Another Canadian government propaganda poster from the early 1900s to lure people to the Canadian West. This time the Federal Minister of the Interior is W. J. Roche. Free farms meant 160 acres, quarter sections of virgin prairie. (Your farm may differ from this farm.)

Watch my video about free farms.

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Free Farms – The West Is The Best

           This poster from about 1893 was produced by the Canadian Department of the Interior to encourage Europeans to come on over! It was printed on a lithographic press which allowed for the bright colours and subtle shading. 

Watch my short video about free farms.

       Advice About Coming West

       This article, aimed primarily at easterners considering moving west, appeared in The Manitoba Free Press (later The Winnipeg Free Press) on April 7, 1882:

            Do not come west with a family unless you have enough money to make a fair start. Do not borrow money to come west. The majority of those who have failed have come on borrowed money or without enough funds.

            After reading this article, select a region you think you will like best. People generally like to keep in the latitude they have lived in. Come in the spring and get acclimated. Bring as little luggage and as few heirlooms as possible. They cost money for freight and are very likely to be an encumbrance in a new home.

            If you are able to do so, come out and explore the country before bringing your family with you. Do not attempt to explore too much. Decide upon the climate and locality and then select your land.

            Do not come west expecting not to be homesick for your forests and streams which present such a contrast to the monotony of endless prairies. It may be very lonely at first but you will soon plant your own trees, have pleasant surroundings and near neighbours.

            Do not come expecting to be rich immediately. Several years of good crops may be required to place you in easy circumstances. If you are a clerk on a small salary in the city and have a few hundred dollars ahead, give up your clerkship and strike western lands. If you have abundance of money, settle in the lands in the near west. If your funds are comparatively limited, go on further as good land can be purchased at lower figures.

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