In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there was a wide-spread belief that Canada's northland comprised millions of acres just waiting to be exploited for settlement. The New Northwest t
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there was a wide-spread belief that Canada's northland comprised millions of acres just waiting to be exploited for settlement. The New Northwest tells the fascinating and little-known history of the explorations of the northern reaches of the Prairie Provinces that began in the 1850s and culminated in the expeditions of Frank Crean, a civil engineer in the federal Department of the Interior.
Early explorations of the area north of the North Saskatchewan River stirred the imaginations of politicians and ordinary Canadians, and resulted in glowing stories of the region's potential. Following his first expedition in 1908, Crean reported enthusiastically about the successful farms and gardens he found at missions, fur trade posts, and at Indian and Métis settlements. Newspapers raved about the expedition and its findings, and Crean's second expedition in 1909 seemed to confirm the great expectations for the region.
The vision of a prosperous, settled northland was never realized - the boom years gave way to a recession, and subsequent surveys found little land of agricultural value - but the story of Frank Crean's explorations, the government's enthusiastic backing of his work, and the public's eager reception of his reports are representative of a period in Canadian history when there was unparalleled belief in the country and its people. The photographs in this collection, coupled with Bill Waiser's lively writing, capture the final days of the Old Northwest and its unique way of life, and constitutes a wonderful visual portrait of a land and its people.
Bill Waiser is the author, co-author or co-editor of eight books, including Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of Western Canada's National Parks and Loyal Till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion, a finalist for the Governor General's non-fiction literary award. His recent book, All Hell Can't Stop Us: The On-to-Ottawa Trek and Regina Riot, won the 2003 Saskatchewan Book Non-Fiction Award. He has served on the Canadian Historical Association and Canada's National History Society.
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