Weyburn GenWeb History

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Previous page content, many thanks to Mick:

For those researchers not familiar with Saskatchewan history, here are a few interesting notes taken from several Community History books from the Weyburn Region. I don't presume to be an historian, so please excuse any mistakes, and take this only as a general overveiw of the history of this area.

Highlights from "Indians and the Fur Trade" from World Book Encyclopedia. Henry Kelsey stated that the Gros Ventre natives held the territory from the upper Qu'Appelle valley along the Souris, and south into the United States. The Natives of the sothern plains had little contact with Europeans until around 1780. In a fierce battle in 1793, the Cree defeated the Gros Ventre, and gradually pushed them south, opening this area to Cree and Assinibine bands. By 1821 the Assiniboines occupied all of southern Saskatchewan. With increased contact, through trading , with Europeans, the bands contracted diseases such as small pox and measles. These diseases reduced the Assiniboines population by half. Decreasing numbers of fur bearing animals and the loss of the buffaloe herds, left the natives of this area in severe culture shock and near starvation. The bands soon had no choice but to sign treaties with the Canadian Government, to live on reservations in exchange for food and shelter.

Britain sent Capt. John Palliser to investigate the suitability of the Southern Plains for settlement between 1857 and 1860. He reported that the eastern part of this Region was good for settlement, with ample water and wood and a good loam soil. The southern part of the region however was described as part of the Great American Desert.
Capt. Palliser did his survey in a few dry years!

Between 1870 and 1880, the Canadian Government sent out groups of surveyors, to divide the land into sections of 640 acres, one mile square, each made up of 4 quarter sections of 160 acres. 36 sections were grouped together to form townships. Botinist John Macoun, with the these surveyors, reported that the western areas of this Region were actually part of the fertile South Regina Plain. By the early 1880s homesteaders were starting to break land in the eastern part of the Region. The C.P.R. railroad began extending lines south east, like the Soo Line from North Portal to Pasqua Junction. These lines brought new settlers answering advertisements from many Land companies, for this rich wheat growing area. The rush was on in the early 1900s to 1920s to settle the western part of the Region.

Adversities faced by homesteaders and settlers were many.Early settlers had to cope with isolation with long distances to travell to get supplies and wood for building and heating. Many homesteaders used the sod they turned over when plowing, to build their homes and out buildings. Medical care wasn't close at hand, and many people were nursed at home with homemade remidies. Prairie fires were another hazard of pioneer life, the only deterent available, a ploughed firegaurd and pails of water set at the ready. On top of all the other hardships settlers faced, was the weather. Very long, cold, windy winters that a lot of settlers were unprepared for. Most people can't comprehend the cold of a prairie winter until it is experienced. Stories of blizzards so fierce, that a rope had to be tied between the house and barn so a person wouldn't get lost in the storm.

The settlers who persevered, established thriving communities, that offered many different businesses, sporting activities and cultural events. Anyone interested in more info is urged to read the Community history book for the area your ancestor settled in.

A few interesting history links:

University of Calgary