Some of the homesteaders who settled in western Canada came from Ontario and Quebec. Some came from the United States. Others came from different countries in Europe. People who come from one country to live in another are called immigrants.
Why did people want to immigrate to Canada? There were a number of reasons why these people chose to leave their homeland and come to a strange new land.
- They were not allowed freedom of worship.
- They had no freedom of speech.
- The government had control over their way of life.
- Men were forced to serve in the army.
- There were no jobs or the jobs were low-paying jobs.
- Many were poor and barely made enough to survive.
- Farmers wanted to own their own land.
- Cities were overcrowded, dirty and polluted.
The Government of Canada was offering free land to those who were willing to settle on the prairies. For many this was an opportunity to own land and have a better life. People were also told that there were plenty of jobs available. Some immigrants hoped to make some money and buy land or set up a business.
PREPARING FOR THE LONG JOURNEY
For the people who came from Europe, the journey to Canada was a long one. The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean often took two weeks by steamship, and even longer by sailing ships. The steamship was faster than a sailing ship, but most of the steamships were overcrowded and dirty. Many passengers became seasick.
THE OCEAN VOYAGE
After the ship finally docked at the ports of Halifax, Montreal or Quebec City, the immigrants could not leave right away. They were given medical examinations and their travel papers were checked over. During this time, they stayed in large buildings called immigration halls. Their next journey was by train to the prairies.
ARRIVING IN CANADA
Canadian Portraits site
in Quebec 1911
in Quebec, 1911
The immigrants travelled in train cars called "colonist cars". The trains were often overcrowded and without heat. There were many delays. Passengers had to bring their own food or buy food during the trip. When they finally arrived at a town close enough to their homestead, they unloaded their belongings and bought or hired a team of horses or oxen and a wagon or Red River cart. They also bought supplies they couldn't bring with them by train. The supplies had to last for a long time -- food, clothing, seed, tools, a plough, lumber and farm animals. Some immigrants remained in the villages and towns to work. Working for the railroad provided extra income for immigrants and homesteaders.
ARRIVAL OF OTHER SETTLERS
Families who came to Canada from the United States often travelled in covered wagons. The wagons were made of wood and metal and were pulled by horses or oxen. All the belongings were packed in the wagons - cooking pots, clothing, tools and furniture. They also brought along a cow and some chickens.
TRAVELLING IN COVERED WAGONS
| Survival - food & clothing | School, general store, blacksmith |
| Inside a settler's home | Transportation | Fun & games | Pioneer communities |
| Links | Canada | Web Pages for Students |
(updated May 2017)
Canadian Portraits site with photos of immigrants and aboriginal people
credits for graphics