The Early Years, 1870-1897

National Archives of Canada

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, 1896 - 1911. Sir Wilfrid coined the phrase "As the nineteenth century was that of the United States, so I think we can claim that Canada shall build the twentieth". The phrase was quickly simplified to: "The twentieth century belongs to Canada."

Sir Wilfrid's famous words were spoken in 1904, when the Canadian economy was booming after many years of stagnation. Suddenly a number of key factors came together to make possible large-scale settlement of the Canadian west. New technology was one of these factors.

Fast new steamships could bring farm workers from Britain and Europe to Canada in a few days. The Canadian Pacific Railway, and other lines, made western Canada easily accessible. New agricultural machinery made "breaking the prairie sod" much easier than before, and specially-developed new strains of wheat were producing bumper crops. American farmers, seeing that the wide-open spaces on their "frontier" were fast filling up, were buying land in The Last Best West, and bringing valuable expertise, equipment and capital with them.

National Archives of Canada

The Hon. Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior 1896-1905. When Laurier became Prime Minister in 1896 he appointed Clifford Sifton to the key portfolio of the Interior, with responsibility for the twin fields of immigration and land settlement.

Sifton was a successful Manitoba businessman, lawyer, land speculator and former Cabinet member in the Manitoba government. He was also a dynamic western booster, and as publisher of the influential Manitoba Free Press, he well understood the power of advertising.

Sifton immediately hired energetic, experienced communicators and promoters to spread the word that vast areas of good prairie land were open for settlement, and 160 acres of that land were available free to every agricultural settler.

The advertising campaign focussed on three major sources of agricultural immigrants: the United States, central and eastern Europe, and Britain, the over-populated "mother country" and hub of the British Empire. Sifton's timing was perfect.

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The Early Years
Advertising in Britain
Advertising in Europe
Presenting newcomers to Canada,
Advertising in the United States
Advertising in Britain
The Early Years, 1870-1897 Advertising in Britain, 1900-1916 Advertising in Europe, 1900-1920s Presenting newcomers to Canada, 1910-1911 Advertising in the United States, 1900-1920s Advertising in Britain, 1920s