Monday, March 13, 2023


      A couple of posts ago I admitted my passion for the history of western Canada. This includes the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It's a huge area made up of plains and forest. The southern parts are grasslands and the northern parts are dense forests. 

     In the 1800's this area was almost vacant. The Canadian government wanted people to live in this huge area. If that was going to happen the land had to be surveyed so people could identify the land they wanted.

     Did I tell you that free land was available? Yes, for $10.00 and meeting some obligations you could get 160 acres. 

    Now here's where my son in law comes in as he asked me about how the land was divided. 

     The land was to be surveyed in blocks so that identification was made for each parcel of land and it could not be mistaken for another property.

    An artificial line was established so that all measurement could start from the same place. There were township lines running north and south and range lines running east and west. These lines were 6 miles apart giving  piece of land 36 sections. One section was 640 acres. These lines were all numbered. The final description was east or west of the first meridian. They established more meridians as the moved west. 

      The surveys happened around 1880 and took quite a few years before it was complete. The technology of the time was simple. Survey crews spent from early spring to late fall. The crewmen were paid $1.00 per day. 

    So a piece of land would be described as SW-20-rge 21-twp 32 -  west of the second. No other piece of land has this designation. 

    This survey was not really used for another 20 years before people started coming to the area. Stakes were used to show the corners and the wooden stakes were marked , but a little problem happened. Wooden stakes rotted and the first nations people found that the stakes made a good wood supply. Some areas had to be resurveyed.

    Now there was another little problem. The roads were supposed to be one mile apart. Because of the curvature of the earth, the roads would get closer together as  they went north. To make amends for this they invented correction lines. Every 24 or 30 miles the roads would take a sharp jog of about 100 ft so that they would continue to be one mile apart. 

    Millions of people came to the area looking for free land and using this system of survey to identify the land they wanted. My grandparents came in 1905 and located land and farmed for close to 50 years. .