Block settlement

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A map of the ethnic origins of Canadians, from the 2006 nation census. The largest self-reported ancestry in each census division is highlighted by colour. As a legacy of the block settlements, the three Prairie Provinces have several regions where ancestries other than British are the largest, unlike the norm in surrounding regions. Areas where people self-identified as having German ancestors are the plurality are coloured in yellow on the map, French in dark blue, and Ukrainian in teal. Most block settlements were not large enough to be visible at this scale, however.
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A block settlement (or bloc settlement) is a particular type of land distribution which allows settlers with the same ethnicity to form small colonies.

This settlement type was used throughout western Canada between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were planned and others were spontaneously created by the settlers themselves.

The policy of planned blocks was pursued primarily by Clifford Sifton during his time as Interior Minister of Canada. It was essentially a compromise position. Some politicians wanted all ethnic groups to be scattered evenly though the new lands to ensure they would quickly assimilate to Anglo-Canadian culture, while others did not want to live near "foreign" immigrants (as opposed to British immigrants who were not considered foreign) and demanded that they be segregated. At the time Canada was receiving large amounts of non-British, non-French, immigrants for the first time, especially Italians, Germans, Scandinavians, and Ukrainians. The newcomers themselves wanted to settle as close as possible to people with a familiar language and similar customs. The government did not want the west to be fragmented into a few large homogeneous ethnic blocks, however. So several smaller colonies were set up where particular ethnic groups could settle, but these were spaced across the country.[1][2]

Examples of ethnic block settlements in western Canada[edit]

African American[edit]



Geographic movements of the Doukhobors, 1898-1913
The Doukhobor prayer house in Veregin is a National Historic Site of Canada
  • In Saskatchewan Doukhobors, numbering 7,500, settled in three blocks in the North-West Territories (now in Saskatchewan) from 1899 to 1918. They established 61 communal villages on 773,400 acres (3,130 km2).[5] (Map)
    • North Colony (1899-1918) contained 69,000 acres (280 km2) in the Pelly-Arran area settled by 2,400 settlers in 20 communal villages.(Map)
    • South Colony (1899-1918) contained 215,010 acres (870.1 km2) in the Canora, Veregin and Kamsack area settled by 3,500 settlers in 30 communal villages. (Map)
    • Good Spirit Lake Annex (1899-1918) contained 168,930 acres (683.6 km2) in the Good Spirit Lake and Buchanan area settled by 1,000 settlers in 8 communal villages. (Map)
    • Saskatchewan Colony (1899-1918) contained 324,800 acres (1,314 km2) in the Langham, Blaine Lake area settled by 1,500 settlers in 15 communal villages. (Map)
    • Sheho and Insinger (1909-1926) contained 1,280 acres (5.2 km2). (Map)
    • Kylemore, Saskatchewan (1918-1938) north of Fishing Lake. (Map)
    • Kelvinton, Saskatchewan (1921-1938) was west of Kelvinton. (Map)
  • British Columbia (1908-1938) (Map)
  • Alberta


English Canadian[edit]

Meaning settlers from Eastern Canada, primarily Ontario, and mostly of British and Irish origins.


These include French Canadians from Quebec, French Americans, and Francophones from France, Belgium, and Switzerland


British Columbia


  • Rat River settlement (Saint Labre, Saint Pierre Jolys, Saint-Malo)
  • Red River settlement (Saint Boniface, Saint Vital, Saint Norbert, Saint Germain, Cartier, La Salle, Saint Adolphe, Glenlea, Sainte Agathe, Tourond, Aubigny, Dufrost, Saint Jean Baptiste, Sainte Elizabeth, Saint Joseph, Letellier)
  • Seine River settlement (Dufresne, Giroux, Ile des Chênes, La Broquerie, Lorette, Marchand, Richer, Saint Raymond, Sainte Anne des Chênes, Sainte Genevieve)
  • Whitehorse plain settlement (Elie, Fannystelle, Saint Eustache, Saint François Xavier, Saint Laurent, Saint Ambroise)


  • Cantal-Bellegarde settlement (Alida, Antler, Bellegarde, Cantal, Redvers, Storthoaks, Wauchope)
  • Delmas bloc settlement (Cochin, Delmas, Edam, Jackfish Lake, Vawn)
  • Duck Lake settlement (Domremy, Duck Lake, Saint Isidore de Bellevue, Saint Louis)
  • Gravelbourg bloc settlement[6] (Gravelbourg, Lafleche, Mazenod, Meyronne).
  • Leoville-Debden bloc (Bapaume, Big River, Debden, Laventure, Leoville, Spiritwood, Victoire)
  • Ponteix settlement (Cadillac, Lac Pelletier, Pambrun, Ponteix, Vanguard)
  • Prud'homme Vonda settlement (Prud'homme, Saint Denis, Vonda)
  • Willow Bunch bloc settlement (Assiniboia, Fife Lake, Lisieux, Little Woody, Maxstone, Rockglen, Saint Victor, Verwood, Willow Bunch)
  • Wood mountain bloc (Ferland, Glentworth, Fir mountain, Wood mountain)
  • St Hubert, Saskatchewan

Francophone Métis settlements[edit]

Some French settlements were founded by Francophone Métis from the Red River settlement in Manitoba. Many began as Métis hivernants buffalo hunting camps from the 1840s to the 1870s.[7][8]


St. Peter's Colony[edit]

St. Peter's Colony[12] founded in 1903 in Saskatchewan was 4,662 square kilometres (1,800 square miles) in size.[13] It included 50 townships; townships 35 to 40, ranges 18 to 22, and townships 37 to 41, ranges 23 to 26 of the Dominion Land Survey west of the 2nd Meridian.[14] 8,000 settlers had arrived in the colony by 1910[15] and by 1930 it was home to 18,000 Roman Catholics. Most were German Catholics.[16] Between 1903 and 1925 parishes were established at Leofeld, Muenster, Fulda, Marysburg, Annaheim, Englefeld, Watson, Lake Lenore, Bruno, Humboldt, Burr, St. Gregor, Pilger, St. Benedict, Dana, Carmel, Cudworth, Middle Lake, Peterson and Naicam.

St. Joseph's Colony (Josephstal)[edit]

St. Joseph's Colony (Josephstal) (1905)[17][18][19] Villages in this Saskatchewan colony included Adanac, Biggar, Broadacres, Cactus Lake, Carmelheim, Cavell, Cosine, Denzil, Donegal, Evesham, Grosswerder, Handel, Kelfield, Kerrobert, Landis, Leipzig, Luseland, Macklin, Major, Onward, Pascal, Phippen, Primate, Revenue, Reward, Salvador, Scott, Tramping Lake, Unity, Wilkie and Wolfe.



Kaposvar Church


Oak Bluff Colony sign (Hutterian Brethren)

Hutterites are German-speaking Anabaptists who live in communal agricultural colonies. They have 188 colonies in Alberta, 117 in Manitoba, 72 in Saskatchewan and 3 in British Columbia. These Canadian colonies began with 18 colonies founded in 1919.[20][21] Map


Graves in Jewish cemetery at Lipton Colony, Saskatchewan, 1916
Jewish farmhouses in Bender Hamlet, Manitoba, 1921.


Mennonite Reserve settlement on the Rat River in Manitoba (1881)
  • Mennonite communities originally part of the Scratching River Settlement, Manitoba include:


Michelsen Farmstead, museum in Stirling, Alberta

Cardston founded in 1887 was the first Latter-day Saint settlement in Alberta. [32]








Icelandic settler statue in Elfros, Saskatchewan


Gimli, Manitoba, pop. 5,797 is home to the largest concentration of Icelanders outside of Iceland.
This 1908 postmark is from Szewczenko, Manitoba (now called Vita). The post office's name is a Polonized spelling of the name of Ukraine's national poet, Taras Shevchenko.
  • Vatnabyggd was an Icelandic settlement of about 2,000 square kilometres in Saskatchewan south of Fishing Lake and the Quill Lakes. By 1911 it had attracted over 1,600 Icelanders.[34][35] Vatnabyggd included the settlements of Kristnes, Saskatchewan (1903), Dafoe (1905), Kandahar (1905), Wynyard (1904), Mozart (1903), Elfros (1903), Leslie (1907), Holar, Saskatchewan (1905), Mount Hecla, Saskatchewan (1904) and Foam Lake (1892). (Map)


Ukrainian settlements with approximate date of founding (Map):

Old Ritualists (Old Believers)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Atlas of Saskatchewan (Ethnic Bloc Settlements map)". Retrieved 2014-05-31.
  2. ^ "Ethnic Bloc Settlement in the Prairies". 1989. Retrieved 2014-05-31.
  3. ^ "Charlow (Shiloh) Baptist Church and Cemetery". Retrieved 2013-11-19.
  4. ^ "Shiloh Baptist Church Cemetery". Retrieved 2013-11-19.
  5. ^ "Doukhobor Reserves in Saskatchewan, 1899-1918". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  6. ^ "Francophone land settlement in southwestern Saskatchewan by Beckey Hamilton" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  7. ^ "Atlas of Saskatchewan (French and Francophone Métis Settlements)". Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  8. ^ John Welsted (1 January 1996). The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People. Univ. of Manitoba Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-88755-375-2.
  9. ^ a b "German Saskatchewan Genealogy Roots". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  10. ^ "St. Joseph's Colony, Katharinental Colony, Kronau-Rastadt, and Odessa (1886-1904)". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  11. ^ "Historical Sketch of St. Peter's Parish and the Founding of the Colonies of Rastadt, Kathrinenthal and Speier". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  12. ^ "St. Peter's Colony Map". Archived from the original on 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  13. ^ "Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan (GERMAN SETTLEMENTS)". Archived from the original on 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  14. ^ Jerome Weber O.S.B. (1949). "St. Peter's Abbey 1903-1921" (PDF). CCHA Report. Canadian Catholic Historical Association. 16: 37–49. Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  15. ^ "Colony Beginnings(p.6)". Archived from the original on 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  16. ^ "The German Catholics of St. Peter's Colony: 1903-1930 By Paul Paproski, OSB" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  17. ^ "St. Joseph's Colony - Index Page". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  18. ^ "St. Joseph's Colony: 1905 - 1930". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  19. ^ "Towns & Villages Of St. Joseph's". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  20. ^ "Regional index of Hutterite colonies". Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  21. ^ "Mapping Hutterite Colony Diffusion in North America". 26 June 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  22. ^ Feldman, Mottie (January 2002). "Sonnenfeld Colony: A Piece of Saskatchewan History". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  23. ^ Feldman, Mottie (January 2002). "Pioneer Stories from Sonnenfeld Colony". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  24. ^ "S.W.20-2-15-W.2nd, Sonnenfeld, Saskatchewan. [textual record] – 1975". Canadian Jewish Heritage Network. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  25. ^ "Story of Saskatchewan's Jewish farmers goes to national museum". CBC News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  26. ^ a b "An Experiment in Immigrant Colonization: Canada and the Icelandic Reserve, 1875-1897 by Ryan Christopher Eyford (map page 4)" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  27. ^ "Krahn, Cornelius and Adolf Ens. (1989). Manitoba (Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  28. ^ "Rempel, John G. and Otto Driedger. (1990). Saskatchewan (Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  29. ^ a b c d e "Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (history/migrations to Canada)". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  30. ^ "Gingerich, Melvin, C. Lorne Dick and Reynold Sawatzky. "Alberta (Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  31. ^ "Klassen, Cornelius F., John M. Klassen and Richard D. Thiessen. "British Columbia (Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online". Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  32. ^ "Mormon News Room: Facts and Statistics (Canada-Alberta)". Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  33. ^ New Stockholm Lutheran Church Archived 2014-03-23 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "Vatnabyggd: An Icelandic Settlement in Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  35. ^ "Major Icelandic Settlements in America". Archived from the original on 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  36. ^ "A map of the Ukrainian bloc settlement of east central Alberta". University of Alberta. 2007. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  37. ^ "Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (Alberta)". 2009. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  38. ^ "Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (Manitoba)". 2010. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  39. ^ "Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (Saskatchewan)". 2008. Retrieved 2014-07-26.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]