About This Collection
Under the Dominion Lands Act, once Crown land had been surveyed and officially declared available for settlement, individuals could apply to homestead a quarter section (160 acres) of their choice. Then, after paying a $10 filing fee and 'proving up' their homestead claim (occupying the land for at least three years and performing certain improvements, including building a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land), the homesteader could apply for patent (title) to the land.
This collection consists of registers of homesteaders applying for land grants in the western Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The collection is organized chronologically in 154 volumes. Within a register, each application for a homestead was recorded as a single-line entry containing the following details:
- homestead number
- date of application
- date of grant
- land description (part of section, section, township, range, meridian)
- area (acreage)
- application number
- district number
- list number
Early registers also contain reference to the date of first occupancy, the expiry of term, folio general register, and patent reference number.
More than 1.25 million homesteads were created from 200 million acres of land in western Canada. Federal surveyors created a checkerboard grid system comprised of seven major meridians and 36-quare-mile townships. Each homestead location consisted of five coordinates: part of section (quarter), section, township, range, meridian. You can use the coordinates to determine where the homestead was located.
Each township consisted of 36 square-mile sections. Each section was divided into four quarters (the homesteads). Townships were arranged in rows, numbered progressively by distance from the Canada-US border, with the row closest to the border numbered 1, the next row numbered 2, and so on. The range number (1 to 36) identified the distance of the township from the meridian, numbered progressively east to west (with the except of meridian E1 in which the ranges were numbered west to east). The meridian identified in which province the township was located. Homesteads with meridian E1 or W1 (ranges 1 to 29) were in Manitoba. Homesteads with meridians W1 (ranges 30 to 36), W2 or W3 were in Saskatchewan. Homesteads with meridians W4, W5 or W6 were in Alberta.
You can search for records by name, date, homestead number, and homestead coordinates (section, township, range, meridian). The search results display the homestead coordinates as a single value. For example, a homestead with coordinates “NW-18-47-26-W2” is located in the NW part of section 18, township 47, range 26, meridian W2.
Some of the information above was taken from the catalog of Library and Archives Canada.