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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XXXIII - Royal's Administration: Social and Industrial Development


Drought and Agricultural Depression—Condition of the Ranching Industry—Rise of Dairying—Burdensome Land Regulations— Railway Development—Immigration Propaganda—Continental Immigration—Educational Development—Territorial Board of Education Created—First Saskatchewan University Act.

During the later eighties and early nineties the North West Territories saw considerable development -along many lines, but during this time the farmers suffered from many depressing circumstances. In 1889 an unprecedented drought prevailed practically all over the Territories, and in consequence prairie and forest fires were reported by the Governor as more extensive and disastrous than ever. The Mounted Police were unwavering in their endeavors to enforce the provisions of the fire ordinances, and very many persons guilty of criminal carelessness were brought to justice. Nevertheless it can easily be seen that in the conditions then prevailing it was a very easy thing to start a conflagration which, despite all efforts for its suppression, would in a few hours spread over many townships, causing much loss and distress.

On the whole, ranching proved more remunerative and encouraging than grain farming—yet the cattle men had their troubles. These arose in part from the spread of settlement both on the part of regular homesteaders and of numerous squatters, and in 1892 a large deputation of western ranchers interviewed the Minister of the Interior to explain their grievances and difficulties. In the spring of the following year a settlement was made with the cattle men on a new basis: the outstanding leases were cancelled and the ranchers were given the privilege of purchasing one-tenth of their holdings at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. This gave them the needed security and at the same time threw open large areas for settlement by grain growers. Moreover, in that year almost three million acres were surveyed— nearly twice as much as in the preceding year.

In the American states south of the Territorial border a serious epidemic of cattle disease occurred, and it was therefore necessary to rigidly enforce quarantine regulations. Many Canadian ranchers complained that, though their herds were free from disease, they suffered much loss from the restrictions under which they were compelled to conduct their business. This was especially so during the last years of Royal's administration.

In the nearly nineties dairying developed into an important industry, and in 1892 a dairymen's association for the Territories was organized at Regina, which did much to stimulate this important industry. The association received substantial aid from the Legislature.

Much dissatisfaction manifested itself from time to time with regard to land regulations. Under the existing system a very large proportion of the land in the settlement districts was not available for homesteading. This seriously interfered with the organization of school districts and with various improvements, but the protests of the Assembly and the general public bore little fruit. Efforts were made to have the registration of land titles vested in the Territorial Government, but with no success. Under the regulations enforced in the Territories the settlers found themselves at a considerable disadvantage as compared with those of Manitoba. In a memorial passed by the Assembly, September 13, 1S93, it was declared that the Homestead Commission's Estate Act had proved so unworkable and generally objectionable that under it only one registration had taken place in the Territories, although the act had been in force for a period of sixteen years.

In 1889 there was much agitation for the completion of railway lines to connect Saskatchewan with the south and for extensions in various directions. In this year the Qu'Appelle, Long Lake & Saskatchewan Railway between Regina and Prince Albert came into operation. Before the end of 1891 an important line was opened from Calgary to Edmonton and another from Calgary to MacLeod. This last named enterprise was associated with the attempt on the part of the authorities of the Canadian Pacific Railway to establish a new town to the detriment of MacLeod, but happily for the latter the prospect failed. In 1892 the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line through the Souris district to where the new town of Estevan was rapidly developing into a coal-mining centre of importance. Work was also progressing upon a road entering the Territories in the southeast, which would join the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway and thus open up a new and highly important route between the Mississippi Valley and Western Canada.

From the first, Royal and his Territorial advisors gave serious attention to the task of bringing before the European public the natural advantage:., of the West, and the opportunities it afforded intending immigrants. These endeavors were supported by the Assembly in so far as the local revenue would permit and the matter was persistently brought to the attention of the Dominion authorities. The Canadian Pacific Railway was also devoting considerable attention to the problem and, largely through its efforts, foreign colonies were established before the end of 18SS in many parts of the North West on ands controlled by the railway company. The Scandinavian settlement of New Stockholm was established north of Whitewood A Romanian colony settled at New Toulecha, near the village of Balgonia Germans and Galcans, considerable numbers founded homes in Rosenthal and Josephburg. Swedish immigrants settled at Fleming; Hungarians a Esterhazy; 1'inns at New Finnland; Icelanders at Medicine River Rumanian Jews at Wapella and Poles and Danes near Yorkton. By 1892 he had seen a considerable immigration from the Dakotas.

In his speech from the throne. October, 1889, Mr. Royal reported the existence of 164 schools attended by 4574 children, an increase of 3, school and pupils over 1888. Provisions had been made for instruction of a more advanced character than that hitherto available, and under them United Schools were established at Regina and Calgary, in which high school work-was earned on. In the following year similar schools were establish in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Lacombe. Parents in these were now afforded an opportunity of obtaining for their children a high class education within easy reach of their homes. The Terri of enrollment for 1890 showed an increase of well over 800 pupils showing year fifteen new schools were opened and the enrollment we further increased by over one thousand.

In 1892 some important changes were introduced in the school system. The new Territorial Board of Education was to hold office "during pleasure" instead of for two years, and was to meet whenever called by the Executive resulted in the appointment of inspectors, who were under the control of the executive, to inspect all schools under one system, whether Protestant or Catholic.

Provision was also made for examinations for teachers' certificates under a general board of examiners appointed by the executive. School grants were increased to $420 and provision was made for the establishment of the single tax system as far as rural schools were concerned if three-fourths of the rate payers so decided. Unimproved lands were to bear the same taxation as improved lands, and all buildings and other improvements were to be exempt from assessment.

During 1892 fifty-three new school districts were established and the attendance continued to show a marked improvement. In this year a Council of Public Instruction was organized, being composed of the members of the Executive Committee and four appointed members, two Protestants and two Roman Catholics. The Lieutenant-Governor was chairman. Messrs. John Secord and Charles Marshallsay were the Protestant representatives and Messrs. C. B. Rouleau and A. E. Forget represented the Catholics. Mr. James Brown was the first secretary of the board.

An interesting evidence of the increased interest in education is found in the fact that on November 20. 1889, a resolution was adopted whereby the Assembly petitioned the House of Commons, suggesting the advisability of selecting and setting apart lands for university purposes, so that the same might be available when the country was divided into separate provinces.

A convention was also called in Regina in January, 1891. to which all university graduates residing in the Territories were invited for the purpose of discussing the formation of a university. The upshot of this movement was the passing of the Saskatchewan University Act by the Dominion Government.

It will be seen that the social and industrial progress of the Territories during Royal's regime was not rapid, but upon the whole steady and healthy. All Canada was suffering from commercial depression and the stringency of the money market, and this was especially felt in the new settlements of the West. European emigration was still directed almost exclusively to the United States, but the farseeing recognized the fact that the long era of tardy development in the Territories was nearing an end and that better things were in store in the near future.


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