Alberta and Saskatchewan Centennials in 2005

by E.B. Lapointe

This year, in 2005, both provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta -- located next door to each other in Western Canada -- are celebrating their joining to Canada on September 1st, 1905.

Saskatchewan, Canada's 'breadbasket', is a prairie province and produces over 54% of wheat grown in Canada, which, in good years, is worth close to $2 billion annually. Northern Saskatchewan produces softwood products and is rich in minerals, potash, uranium, coal, oil and natural gas.

The capital city is Regina. The province has a population of over a million, and 63% of the people live in an urban area. The Aboriginal name for the province is "kisiskatchewan", meaning the river that flows swiftly, referring to the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers which run through the province.

In the early 1800s, less than 1,000 non-aboriginal people lived in the province, but with the arrival of the train in the late 1800s, over 20,000 settlers lived there, and were mostly farmers from Ontario. By 1925, Saskatchewan had the highest per capita income in the world, but with the stock market crash of 1929, followed by the Great Depression—a decade of bad crops and drought—many people lived a very lean life. By the 1940s, the economy turned around and there were many new immigrants from the Ukraine, Russia, and Scandinavia.

As the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Dr. Lynda Haverstock, said in her address to Saskatchewan, "the dreamers, the builders, the tough, the determined and the resourceful ... They were your ancestors and mine." 100 Years of Heart is the theme of the Centennial.

There are many Homecoming 2005 events, family reunions, and community events listed on the website at <http://www.sask2005.ca>.

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society is very active and has a number of projects on the go, including the 2nd edition of Tracing Your Saskatchewan Ancestors: A Guide to the Records and How to Use Them. The society says that the book shows the researcher ways to conduct an effective search of the new computerized Saskatchewan Land Titles system; the Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906; as well as cemetery and immigration records.

The society is also working on "The Saskatchewan Homestead Index Project" (SHIP), which will place original homestead records (1870-1930) in digital format on the Internet.

Biggar, a community in the central west part of the province, is constructing the Biggar Heritage Album with the assistance of people who live in the town and those who have moved away. For details, contact the Bigger Museum & Gallery at <http://bigmusga.sasktelwebsite.net>.

The Spirit of Alberta is the province's theme for their 100th anniversary. The premier of the province, Ralph Klein, says in his speech that it is a "great time to celebrate Alberta's past and to provide an even brighter future."

Settled against the Rockies, Alberta is known as as Canada's "energy province", as the province has 80% of the country's reserves of crude oil and over 90% of the country's natural gas (oil was found in Alberta in 1914 in Turner Valley in the north). Along with these reserves, cattle ranches in the south form the basis of the province's economy.

Aboriginal peoples, such as the Piegan, Cree, Blackfoot, Sacree, Kootneay, and Slavey, lived in what is now Alberta. The first Europeans to reach Alberta were the people to establish the Hudson Bay Company, followed by those who established the North West Company. With the combination of both companies in 1821, interest in the colonization of the province began with the arrival of the railroad in 1885, and immigrant farmers started to arrive.

The province was named after a daughter of Queen Victoria, with the city of Edmonton as its capital. Of the population, 44% is of British descent, with other parts of the population being of German, Ukrainian, French, and Scandinavian descent.

The province was named after a daughter of Queen Victoria, with the city of Edmonton as its capital. Of the population, 44% is of British descent, with other parts of the population being of German, Ukrainian, French, and Scandinavian descent.

The centennial website at <http://www.albertacentennial.ca> lists centennial events in communities across Alberta, with many events being held in both Edmonton and Calgary.

And although there does not appear to be much centennial activity on the provinces genealogical websites at the Alberta Genealogical Society <http://abgensoc.ca> nor at the Alberta Family Histories Society at <http://www.afhs.ab.ca>, the Alberta GenWeb website at <http://users.rootsweb.com/~canab> offers excellent resources about the province's ethnic groups, local history books, place names, and cemeteries.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited both provinces from May 17th to 25th, 2005.

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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