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The Scottish Tradition in Canada
Scottish Settlement of the West
Alan R. Turner

The Scottish tradition in Western Canada originates with the predominance of Scots in the enterprises which first penetrated the area now comprising the Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, who exploited its fur resources, explored and mapped its waterways, and established forts and trading posts, some of which formed the nucleus of permanent settlements. The fur trade era, a period of British sovereignty exercised through the Hudson's Bay Company by virtue of its charter and trading licence, persisted for two centuries, until the 1850s on the Pacific coast and until 1870 on the prairies. During that period persons of mixed Scottish and Indian parentage emerged as an important element among the indigenous peoples; the first agricultural settlement had been undertaken by Scottish people at Red River where the first local governing unit, dominated in its administration by Scots, was established; and a number of church missions and parishes were founded, achievements in which Scottish clergymen also played a part.

The Scottish presence was still evident in the colonial and provincial institutions which superseded the fur trade hegemony, and Scotsmen were influential in public programmes for settlement and development of the West, as well as in the direction and financing of private enterprises related thereto. Scottish people from the home land, Eastern Canada, and the United States contributed to the tide of settlers which reached flood proportions by the end of the nineteenth century, continued undiminished until World War I, and thereafter more slowly advanced into the forest fringe north of the prairies and into the interior of British Columbia. Few entirely Scottish settlements were founded in Western Canada after 1870 but there were both rural districts and urban centres in which Scots comprised a substantial element. Statistics confirm the number of Scots who peopled this new country and their augmentation over the years; their widespread presence and contribution to its development are reflected in the careers of numerous persons of regional or national stature. Peculiarly Scottish traditions tended to fade in the process of acculturation but some at least became widely dispersed among the population. In absolute numbers, in individual achievements in many fields of endeavour, and through significant involvement in public affairs, Scottish people had a marked effect on the settlement and development of Western Canada.

Although the Scot and the fur trade is the subject of a separate chapter in this book, it should be noted that this activity accounted for the establishment of numerous trading posts, among them Cumberland House, built by Orkneymen in 1774, the first inland post of the Hudson's Bay Company and the oldest permanent settlement in Saskatchewan. Scottish fur traders or their descendants were among the first settlers about some of these posts, as far-flung, for example, as Lower Fort Garry in Manitoba, Fort Pelly in Saskatchewan, Fort Edmonton in Alberta, and Fort Victoria in British Columbia. Many retiring Company servants and their families found a home in the Red River Settlement, one of the objectives for the colony founded by Thomas Douglas, Fifth Earl of Selkirk, in 1811.1

Lord Selkirk primarily intended that his colony should provide a home for Scottish immigrants, along the lines of the settlements he had previously sponsored in Prince Edward Island and Upper Canada. He expected, too, that the colony would increase and diversify provisions for the trading posts and brigades of the Hudson's Bay Company, at the same time confirming the Company's title to the soil in face of the challenge of the Montreal traders who also were predominantly Scots. Assiniboia, the considerable inland district of Manitoba granted in absolute proprietorship to Selkirk, received its first colonists in 1812, a small party of Scots led over the arduous route from Hudson's Bay by Governor Miles Mac-donell. Opposition to the colony from the North West Company, whose trade route and operations were threatened by it, reached a climax in the violence of 1816 during which Cuthbert Grant, of mixed Scottish and Indian parentage and natural leader of the plainsmen and Metis, led an attack on it and dispersed the residents. In the aftermath Selkirk organized a force in Canada, reoccupied the settlement, and restored it on a surer foundation. By the end of 1817 the colony was relatively secure, but growth thereafter was slow as frosts, floods and grasshopper infestations hampered progress. In 1821 the population is said to have reached 419, of whom 221 were Scots.2

After the union of the fur trading companies in 1821 the Metis were no longer incited against the colony and came to see it as a place of settlement for themselves. Cuthbert Grant3 himself became "Warden of the Plains" on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company and founded the settlement of Grantown at White Horse Plains, west of Winnipeg. As the years passed many Scottish halfbreeds became prominent in the life of the Red River Settlement - for example, Captain William Kennedy, who commanded two of the expeditions which searched for evidence of Sir John Franklin, and James McKay, trader, freighter, legislator, and negotiator of Indian treaties.4

By 1870 "the farmsteads of the halfbreeds and the Orkney and Kildo-nan Scottish settlers presented an almost unbroken line along the west bank"5 of the Red River. Farther west, along the Assiniboine, the emerging settlement of Portage la Prairie included many Scots, among them John McLean, the first farmer, 1862,6 and the colourful Thomas Spence who inaugurated and assumed the presidency of the abortive "Republic of Portage la Prairie" in 1867.7 The District of Assiniboia, despite the growth of other ethnic groups, reflected in its council the dominance of the Scots - the Macdonells, Semples, Christies, Finlaysons and McTavishs occupied the position of governor of Assiniboia for forty-two of the fifty-eight years from 1812 to 1870!8 Justice was administered, from 1839 to 1870, by the Recorder of Rupert's Land. There were four recorders in this period; Adam Thom and John Black served a total of nineteen years, and Dr. John Bunn, who was Scottish on his maternal side, served four years.9 Actually the pure Scottish element at Red River could not have exceeded 700 people, of whom 240 were born in Scotland, in a population of 12,000 when Manitoba became a province in 1870, but many of the 4,083 "English halfbreeds" enumerated at that time must in fact have been of Scottish and Indian parentage.10

At first served by Anglican clergy, the Scottish Presbyterians at Red River secured the services of a minister only in 1851 in the person of Rev. John Black who built the stone church at Kildonan. Scottish names abound, however, among the pioneer clergy of the West. The Reverend James Nisbet, who joined Black in 1862, travelled overland in 1866 to found a mission on the Saskatchewan River some miles below Fort Carlton. James Isbister, son of an Orkneyman, was already the first settler there.11 Nisbet called his mission Prince Albert, whence grew the modern city of that name. The McDougalls of the Methodist Church founded Morleyville, now Morley, Alberta, within a few years.

Aside from such missions, along with the few settlers gathered about them and the fur trading posts, there were still only the native peoples in the old North West Territories when that area was acquired by Canada at the same time as the founding of Manitoba. However, the way for settlement had been paved by a long line of explorers and surveyors associated with the fur trade, including Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser. In 1841 and 1854 James Sinclair, free-trader son of an Orkneyman, had pioneered overland routes from Red River across the Rockies in conducting parties of settlers to the Oregon country.12 Increasing interest in the 1850s in the possibilities of the West for settlement had also resulted in the dispatch of exploring expeditions from Great Britain and the old Province of Canada. The British (Palliser) expedition included Dr. James Hector, Scottish geologist, who was responsible for much of its journal and for its descriptions of the geological formations and mineral potential from the Great Lakes to Vancouver Island.13 A principal figure in the Canadian (Dawson-Hind) expeditions,14 which explored the eastern prairies, was Simon J. Dawson, Scottish-born civil engineer, who subsequently, in 1868, opened communication between Canada and Red River by what became known as the Dawson Route.

In British Columbia colonial government had replaced Hudson's Bay Company rule for some twenty years before that province's entry into Confederation. The Scottish presence, manifest in the several trading posts almost without exception established by Scots, could be discerned in the governing structure first of Vancouver Island and then of the mainland in the commanding figure of Governor James Douglas. Of eight men who served on the Legislative Council of Vancouver Island between its inception in 1850 and 1859,15 probably no less than six were Scots, including John Tod, the noted fur trader who after his retirement in 1852 became a gentleman farmer at Victoria. David Cameron was appointed judge of the new Supreme Court of Vancouver Island in 1853, and in 1858 Matthew Baillie Begbie (later Chief Justice) became judge in the new Crown Colony of British Columbia where he was renowned for maintaining law and order during the gold rush. By 1853 the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company, had been assigned four large tracts of land at Victoria for farming purposes, and Kenneth McKenzie, a native of Scotland, was appointed bailiff for the new Company. Arriving in 1853, McKenzie vigorously promoted the development of the farms, and established a saw mill, flour mill, bakery, kilns, slaughter house, smithy and other facilities.16 In 1862 a group of settlers was dispatched from Victoria to Cowichan Bay where names such as Bell, Duncan, Flett, Kier, McKay, Montgomery and Morton among the newcomers of the first two years signify the presence of a considerable number of Scots.17 At that same time a numerous party, known as the Overlanders or Argonauts of '62, journeyed from Ontario and Quebec via Forts Garry and Edmonton to the Cariboo gold fields of B.C. Many of them were Scottish and some of them were to become permanent and substantial citizens of the province18 - for example, Edinburgh-born Richard H. Alexander, businessman and civic official of Vancouver; Robert Burns McMicking, who organized an electric light plant and managed a telephone company at Victoria; Archibald McNaughton, postmaster at Quesnel; George Baillie, rancher and hotel owner at Lytton; John Andrew Mara, merchant and miller of Kamloops. Undoubtedly there were Scots among the other thousands who rushed into the interior during that decade but many of the gold seekers failed to take up permanent residence. The total population of British Columbia had declined by 1870 when an enumeration showed only 8,576 "whites," of whom the number of Scots was not recorded.19

Upon the acquisition of Manitoba and the North West Territories in 1870 the Canadian government retained their lands and resources for the new Dominion and initiated within the decade policies for their settlement and development, including the extinction of Indian claims, maintenance of law and order, institution of a survey system, provision of transportation and communication, and procedures for disposition of lands. Scots played a part in the administration and execution of these policies, instituted, it should be remembered, in the first instance by federal governments headed by two Scottish-born prime ministers, John A. Macdon-ald and Alexander Mackenzie. Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Morris of Manitoba and the North West Territories was the principal commissioner in negotiating five Indian treaties in the West; and for the three treaties which covered virtually all of what became the settled areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan, all of the commissioners were Scots.20 Law and order was imposed on this frontier through the North West Mounted Police, whose early officers included James F. Macleod, appointed assistant commissioner, 1874, commissioner, 1876-80, the founder of Forts Macleod and Calgary, and Lieutenant-Colonel A.G. Irvine, appointed assistant commissioner, 1875, and commissioner, 1880-1886. Much of the administration of western affairs was assigned to the Department of the Interior wherein another Scot, A.M. Burgess, became deputy minister for a significant period, 1883-1897. This department directed the topographical and other surveys which were basic to the disposition and settlement of the western lands.

Scottish names abound among the surveyors21 who carried out arduous duties in remote areas under often difficult circumstances. Surveys for the route of a Pacific railway were conducted by Sandford Fleming, and the selection of the eventual route for it across the southern plains was influenced by the findings of the botanist-surveyor, John Macoun, who reported much more favourably on their agricultural possibilities than had the Palliser and Dawson-Hind expeditions. The federal government also sent geologists into the West, none more distinguished than George M. Dawson, who was responsible for numerous pioneer geological reports, including those on the lignite tertiary formation of the Territories, and the first geological survey of the Yukon, where Dawson City was named for him. He became assistant director of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1883 and director in 1895.

The federal government, in addition to initiating a homestead policy to attract settlers, made grants of land to colonization and railway companies, and also sold blocks of lands to developers. Construction of the first transcontinental railway was subsidized through land grants, such that the Canadian Pacific Railway became a huge landowner and promoter of settlement. Most significant in the founding and financing of this enterprise were two Scots, George Stephen and his cousin, Donald A. Smith. The latter had become a principal shareholder, and at length Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company which through its agreement with the Dominion government retained not only tracts of land about its posts but one-twentieth of the lands in the fertile belt of Western Canada. The Company's ancient fur trade was increasingly overshadowed by its land sales; its posts became trading centres for new communities, leading eventually to its modern department stores. Throughout its history the Company continued to recruit Scots, and three hundred years after its inception in 1670 the Company, now headquartered in Canada, still has in its directorate a number of men of Scottish ancestry.22 Other major land developers in the West included the Gaits, Sir Alexander and his son Elliott, who acquired a large tract for irrigation near Lethbridge, and the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company, organized by D.H. McDonald of Fort Qu'Appelle, son of an HBC factor, together with Colonel A.D. Davidson and Senator A.D. McRae. This Company purchased and settled a large area of government and railway lands between the Qu'Appelle Valley and Saskatoon in the early years of the twentieth century.

That period saw the building of another transcontinental railway, the Canadian Northern, the enterprise of William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, which opened up further areas to settlement. Meanwhile capital from Scotland had also been directed into prairie settlement, as illustrated in the huge Bell Farm at Indian Head in the 1880s which was financed by Scottish loans,23 and in the Scottish Canadian Land and Settlement Association which in 1884 secured 500,000 acres from the CPR in the Turtle Mountain and Souris districts of Manitoba.24 Dundee investors in American cattle enterprises had organized the Matador Land and Cattle Company in 1882 which extended its operations into the Saskatchewan Landing area north of Swift Current in 1904.25 All of these land and colonization companies, the railway companies, the Hudson's Bay Company, together with the federal government, through advertising, subsidization and direct sponsorship attracted the flow of settlers among whom were many Scots.

The first satisfactory source of statistics relating to the origins of the peoples of Western Canada after Confederation is the census of Canada for 1881. In that year there were 3,892 Scots in B.C., 16,506 in Manitoba and 1,217 in the North West Territories, a total of 21,615 Scots in a population of 137,234 in the area now comprising the four western provinces. The major increase in the decade ending in 1881 had occurred in Manitoba, where the largest concentrations of Scots were then in the Winnipeg (2,470), Springfield (724), St. Andrew's (1,184), Mountain (713), and Portage (722) census sub-districts. In the North West Territories only the Prince Albert district in 1881 had a concentration of Scots (651) approaching those centres, and in British Columbia 917 Scots were enumerated in Victoria City, with the next largest group being 580 at Nanaimo. It is clear that the increase in Manitoba had not come in any large measure from Scotland. Canadian government immigration agents in Scotland during that decade made such comments as "a great many people are looking towards Manitoba" but recorded that only a few families had gone there each year.26 In 1881 only 2,868 Manitobans had been born in Scotland; hence some 14,000 Scots in that province had been born in Canada, many of whom had recently migrated from Eastern Canada. The special census of the North West Territories in 1884-85 showed 6,788 "Scotch" and 762 "Scotch halfbreeds," a remarkable influx in five years into the area which would become the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and where the total population had reached 48,362, of whom 20,170 were Indians.27 The major concentrations of Scots were in the provisional district of Assiniboia (4,762) and, within it, in the Broadview (2,123) and Qu'Appelle-Regina (1,710) census sub-districts.

Regina, the territorial capital, then had a population of perhaps five or six hundred but an analysis of the 195 male residents listed in the first Regina Director (1885) suggests that at least forty of them, over 20%, were Scots.28 They represented a wide range of occupations, and many were obviously of influence in the affairs of the town, since they included several barristers, a banker, the postmaster, the school teacher, the deputy sheriff, the clerk of the court, a druggist, a brewer, an auctioneer, a surgeon, a clergyman, a surveyor, a Dominion Lands agent, such tradesmen as a painter, a tinsmith, several carpenters, a butcher, a printer, and the proprietors of five general stores, a furniture store, a book store, a lumber yard, a livery stable, and two boarding houses. They found themselves living in a town which in its initial administration and street names had a markedly Scottish flavor, the latter conferred for the most part in honour of the principals of its joint developers, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canada North West Land Company. The railway and the land company, with their astute Scottish-Canadian directors and financial backing, were responsible for the establishment and development of forty-seven townsites between Brandon and the eastern boundary of British Columbia, including Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Medicine Hat, and Calgary.29 These townsites were initially administered by a commission of four trustees, comprised of R.B. Angus and Donald A. Smith for the CPR and E.B. Osier and William B. Scarth for the land company. At Regina the townsite trustees, except for their control of unsold lots, had given way by 1884 to a municipal government, headed by barrister David L. Scott, the first mayor, 1884-85, whose successor was Daniel Mowat, 1886-87.30

Already on the plains about Regina, stretching northward to Lumsden in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Ontario-born Scottish, such as the Balfour, Martin, Sheriffs and Mutch families, had homesteaded.31 Farther east, as previously noted, the essentially rural Broadview census sub-district included many Scottish farmers. There Lady Cathcart's philanthropic efforts had led to the settlement of nearly 300 Scottish crofters at St. Andrew's and Benbecula, near Moosomin and Wapella, in 1883 and 1884.32 This was the forerunner of subsequent attempts, financed by the British government, to send impoverished crofters and cottars from the Western Isles to Manitoba and the North West Territories.33 In 1888 thirty families, 183 persons in all, were enabled by Her Majesty's Board of Commissioners established for the purpose to settle at Killarney, Manitoba. This work was then assigned to the Imperial Colonization Board which, in 1889, assisted another forty-nine families, a total of 252 persons, to take up homesteads near Saltcoats, NWT (now Saskatchewan). The Killarney settlement was a success whereas that at Saltcoats collapsed by 1900, largely due to adverse climatic conditions. While this colony failed, the board's objective of relieving the distress its settlers had suffered in Scotland was attained as they found employment in neighbouring towns or moved to then more prosperous farming districts.

Elsewhere groups of Scots settled independently on the land. Family ties and favourable reports from friends who had emigrated tended to lead Scots, like members of other ethnic groups, to the same districts where they might sustain traditional folkways and assist each other in the struggles of pioneering. One such district lay south of Wolseley, Saskatchewan, where between 1885 and 1907 there was a steady influx of Lowland settlers from Ayrshire, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, and the Lothians.34 They spread over four townships, with the rural post office and Presbyterian Kirk of Moffat the focal point of the community. Not all of these settlers had previous experience in farming; they included carpenters, harness-makers, blacksmiths, drapers, butchers, bricklayers, and well-trained stonemasons. Using field stone, with locally fired limestone and sand for mortar, the latter were responsible for building the fine stone houses which still distinguish Moffat from most settlements on the prairies, where frame structures usually replaced the original sod houses and log cabins.

Although it is not apparent that there were many Scottish group settlements, whether formally organized as at Killarney and Saltcoats, or independent aggregations as at Moffat, there is no question that Scots both from the homeland and Eastern Canada were well represented in the great flood of immigration which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Annual statistics confirm the number of arrivals from Scotland. In the year ended June 30, 1904, for example, the Canadian government agent at Glasgow reported that 12,627 persons of Scottish nationality had left for Canada, of whom according to destinations registered at the ports of entry in Eastern Canada, 3,391 intended to go to Manitoba, 1,005 to the North West Territories, and 445 to B.C.35 Included therein would be 911 Scots who filed entry for homesteads and 171 unmarried male labourers recruited for farm employment. Their disposition throughout the West is impossible to determine, although occasional references such as "135 Scotch" received at the immigration hall, Calgary, in that year sometimes indicate the general localities in which they settled. Comparative figures five years later, for the year ended March 31, 1909, showed 11,810 arrivals from Scotland, of whom 1,886 were destined for Manitoba, 1,776 for Saskatchewan and Alberta, and 1,495 for B.C.36 It is impossible to determine how many persons of Scottish ancestry may have been among the thousands of settlers from Eastern Canada in this period. By the time of the census of 1911 Scots numbered 282,991 of the total population of 1,715,189 in the four western provinces. The passage of another thirty years may be said to have brought to a close the whole period of settlement. Certainly by 1941 the vast bulk of the agricultural lands had been occupied, the forest and mining frontiers at least initially tapped, and virtually all of the urban communities founded. Pioneer settlements had grown and developed, and there had been a natural increase over one or two generations in the population, as well as the immigration which resumed after World War I. While a marked rural-urban shift in population was still to come, the prolonged drought and depression of the 1930s had prompted the internal migration of farmers from the southern prairies and of some city dwellers as well. On their own or with inadequate government assistance these people, Scots among them, trekked into the northern parklands to take up the axe, grub-hoe, and breaking plough in a second pioneering venture in one generation.37 Others left the prairies for British Columbia. While recognizing that these developments must be taken into account, the census figures of 1941 are instructive in confirming the steady growth of population of Scottish origin (see Table 1) and in identifying communities where Scots had settled in substantial numbers.

Nowhere do the Scots appear to have become a majority of the population, but there were communities in which they represented more than their average proportion of 14.9% for all of Western Canada in 1941. In Winnipeg, centre of the first Scottish colony, Scots were still fully 18% of the population, and they represented over 22% in Calgary. Examples of other places where Scots exceeded the average were (approximate percentage in brackets): St. James, rural (23%), Minnedosa (28%), and Russell (27%) in Manitoba; Avonlea (35%), Saltcoats (23%), Wapella (29%), Lumsden (28%) and Lashburn (28%) in Saskatchewan; Banff (23%) and Carstairs (27%) in Alberta; and New Westminster (21%) in British Columbia.

The widespread dispersal of the Scots and their contributions to western settlement and development can be seen in the careers of many outstanding persons, only a few of whom can be identified here. Although, as we have seen, some Scottish settlers had never farmed, many of this "race of gardeners," as they have been called, brought with them knowledge and experience which was of benefit to prairie agriculture.38 A catalogue of them would include Angus MacKay,39 who became first superintendent of the Indian Head experimental farm and promoted tree planting and the dry-farming technique of summerfallowing, and Frank L. Skinner, who in his nursery at Dropmore developed many varieties of fruits and flowers.40 It would also include pioneer importers and breeders of livestock such as Archibald Wright of Winnipeg, 41 who imported the first Holstein cattle to Western Canada and who grew the first sweet clover there, Glen Campbell, who imported Highland cattle for his ranch at Riding Mountain, 42 James D. McGregor,43 who specialized in Aberdeen Angus cattle at Brandon and also directed the irrigation projects of the Southern Alberta Land Company near Medicine Hat, William Rutherford and John Oman, who managed pioneer sheep ranches at Maple Creek and Swift Current, respectively,44 Major James Walker, first manager of the Cochrane ranch at Calgary,45 and the noted horseman, livestock judge and educator, William John Rutherford,46 who was first Dean of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. Scots were also among the early large scale "bonanza" farmers; for example, J.W. Sandison at Brandon47 and William R. Bell at Indian Head,48 both of whom went bankrupt, while Adam MacKenzie of the Arden and Carberry districts49 and James Bruce of Lashburn50 were successful, the latter aided by an inheritance which enabled him to donate a hospital and a church to his community.

Scots were also active in the organization of farmers' co-operatives, one of the most notable being A.J. McPhail,51 first President of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Wheat Producers, Ltd., and of the central selling agency of the three prairie wheat pools. Earlier, the pioneer Grain Growers' Grain Company had been enabled to survive through sales to the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society of Glasgow;52 prairie co-operatives, especially Interprovincial Co-operatives Ltd., of which another Scot, James McCaig, was first president, maintained an association with that organization. 53 Scots were prominent, too, among the private grain merchants, flour millers, and founders of elevator companies. William and John Ogil-vie, of the Montreal firm, were the pioneer wheat buyers in Manitoba, and with other grain merchants such as D.H. McMillan, C.G. Galt, and K. MacKenzie formed the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange in 1887.54

Scots were of course pioneers in other lines of business across the West. They were among the first merchants in many towns, representative of them being John A. McDougall in Edmonton,55 James Clinkskill in both Battleford and Saskatoon,56 R.D. McNaughton in Moosomin,57 Wm. Douglas in Leduc,58 W.F. Cameron in Vernon,59 Tweed and Ewart, partners in the first store in Medicine Hat,60 and Robert Gerrie, who opened the first furniture store west of the Great Lakes in Winnipeg in 1873.61 The variety of businesses and industries founded by Scots is further illustrated in the careers of Wm. C. Garson, who established the Garson Quarries at Tyndall,62 Duncan Macarthur, Winnipeg banker,63 John McKechnie, founder of the Vulcan Iron Works, Winnipeg,64 and such lumber millers and merchants as Douglas C. Cameron65 of Rat Portage (Kenora) and Winnipeg and D.H. MacDowall66 of Prince Albert. Colonel A.D. McRae, in association with Mackenzie and Mann, extended his interests beyond prairie lands and an important saw mill at New Westminster to found the Canadian Western Lumber Company, and entered the salmon canning industry in 1911.67 H.R. MacMillan, founder of an exporting company at Vancouver, developed one of the largest lumber companies on the continent.68 The Gaits opened the coal mines at Lethbridge; Robert Dunsmuir also went into coal mining on Vancouver Island, becoming "the province's first capitalist," with interests in iron works, railway and steamship lines as well.69 The Scottish enterprise in early transportation was duplicated in the air age in the success of G.W.G. McConachie who began his career as a northern bush pilot and founded an air transport firm, later absorbed by Canadian Pacific Airlines in which he rose to be president.70

The influence of Scots, noted in the administration of the old district of Assiniboia and in the colonial period of British Columbia, is also evident in the politics and government of the western provinces after Confederation. The first premiers of Alberta, Alex Rutherford, 1905-1910, and Saskatchewan, Walter Scott, 1905-1916, were Scottish. Both provinces have had ten premiers to 1975 since they were founded 68 years ago in 1905 and in both provinces five premiers have been Scots, occupying the position for a total of 21 years in Alberta and 50 years in Saskatchewan, the latter accounted for in part by the lengthy term of Thomas C. Douglas, 1944-1961. Manitoba since 1870 has had sixteen ministries to 1975, four of which covering a total of twenty-five years were headed by Scots, including John Norquay, 1878-1887, and to which could be added a fifth ministry, the nine-year term, 1958-1967, of Duff Roblin (Scottish only on his maternal side). In British Columbia at least eight Scots have served as premier, for a total of 41 years since 1871, including the twenty-year term of W.A.C. Bennett, 1952-1972. No attempt has been made to analyse the ethnicity of the membership of the ministries or legislatures of the four provinces, but it is of relevance that the first Saskatchewan ministry was comprised of Walter Scott, James Calder, J.H. Lamont, and W.R. Motherwell, certainly the first three of whom were Scottish, and Motherwell, born in Ontario, was probably of Irish-Scottish ancestry. In addition to the premiership, the Scots have been well-represented in the western legislatures in view of their electoral success in the federal arena.

Scottish representation in the House of Commons from Western Canada far exceeded their numerical proportion of the population. This is not to suggest that either federally or provincially there was a Scottish position or cause; the evidence confirms that many Scots took an active interest in public affairs and politics, the latter by no means confined to any one party. In office and in opposition they represented the traditional Liberal and Conservative parties as well as being active in the later Social Credit and CCF-NDP parties, and in the Progressive movement of the 1920s. No less than fourteen of thirty-nine Progressives elected to the House of Commons from Western Canada in 1921 were Scots, including such leading figures as T.A. Crerar and Robert Forke of Manitoba and Robert Gardiner of Alberta. Also elected, as a Labour member, was William Irvine of Alberta. A recent analysis of twenty-nine persons in the "middle leadership" of the Progressive Party in Saskatchewan showed that twelve of them were either born in Scotland or of Scottish descent.71 Scots had earlier participated in nineteenth century farm protest movements, including the Northwest Farmers' Union, organized at Brandon in 1883, of which Dr. Alexander Fleming72 was president, and the Patrons of Industry, of whom James M. Douglas of Tantallon was an exponent and successful candidate for Parliament in 1896.73 They were also leaders in the organization of grain growers' associations after the turn of the century. In the territorial association, founded 1902, W.R. Motherwell and John Millar were first president and secretary respectively. The secretary of the Manitoba Association, formed the following year, was Roderick McKenzie of Brandon, and the first board of directors included at least three more Scots.74

These illustrations of early concern about settlers' problems and of active participation in the organized farm movement and in politics generally demonstrate a strong public-spiritedness and social conscience among the Scots who settled in Western Canada. Combined with their business acumen and enterprise, and their contributions in other fields noted herein or examined elsewhere in this volume, it can be maintained that the Scots wielded an influence beyond their numerical strength in the population. They were probably less successful in preserving a Scottish way of life in the West. There were, as we have seen, few strictly Scottish settlements, and Scottish settlers, even where they comprised a sizable part of the community, tended to merge culturally with their neighbours. It does not appear that schools were taught in Gaelic or that the language persisted much beyond the first generation. Although some journals were once published in Winnipeg, no Scottish press flourished in Western Canada.75 To be sure there were any number of Scottish editors of pioneer newspapers, such as P.G. Laurie of the Saskatchewan Herald (Bat-tleford),76 John Robson of the New Westminster British Columbian and Victoria Colonist,77 and Richard Waugh of the Nor'West Farmer (Winnipeg).78 Various Scottish societies were founded and, with annual observances of Robert Burns' birthday, persisted. Pipe bands, traditional dancing, and to some extent Highland games, also flourished in the West. The game of curling was imported, and often played on the river ice or outdoor rinks, as it was at Prince Albert and Battleford. Prior to 1890 four Scottish devotees from near the former place loaded their "rocks on a toboggan, drawn by a team of ponies, and walked alongside" all the way to Fort Qu'Appelle where they took the train to curl in the Winnipeg bonspeil!79 It is noteworthy that curling and Scottish dancing and music were adopted by the generality of the population, and, in a recent manifestation of that trend, the Province of Saskatchewan adopted an official tartan, duly registered with the Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, in 1961. George Bryce concluded his 1911 volume on the Scotsman in Western Canada with the assurance that here "the Scottish immigrant will find a favourable, remunerative, and socially suitable sphere of action for himself and his children."80 In retrospect, despite some failures and periods of drought and depression, Scottish settlers found that to be their experience; moreover, they had helped significantly to make it true for themselves and for all newcomers.


1. The literature on the Red River settlement is extensive; this summary is based on the relevant chapters in W.L. Morton, Manitoba. A History, rev. ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967).

2. G.Donaldson, The Scots Overseas (London: Robert Hale, 1966), p. 138.

3. M.A. McLeod, Cuthbert Grant of Grantown (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1963).

4. A.R. Turner, "James McKay," Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), pp. 473-474.

5. Morton, p. 151.

6. G. McEwan, Fifty Mighty Men (Saskatoon: Modern Press, 1958), Ch. XLVIII.

7. Ibid., Ch. xliv.

8. G Bryce, The Scotsman in Canada (Toronto: Musson Book Co., n.d.), II 200-201.

9. R. Stubbs, Four Recorders of Rupert's Land (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1967).

10. Canada, Sessional Papers, 1871, No. 20, p. 92.

11. Sask. Archives, SHS File no. 29, "James Isbister."

12. D. Geneva Lent, West of the Mountains (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963), Chapters 6, 11-14.

13. A.R. Turner, "Palliser of the Triangle," The Beaver, Autumn, 1957.

14. L.H. Thomas, "The Hind and Dawson Expeditions," The Beaver, Winter, 1958.

15. Margaret Ormsby, British Columbia: A History (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1958), pp. 122-123.

16. Craigflower Manor. A National and Provincial Historic Site (Victoria, B.C., n.d.).

17. E. Blanche Norcross, The Warm Land (Nanaimo: Evergreen Press, 1959).

18. M.S. Wade, The Overlanders of '62 (Victoria: King's Printer, 1931), pp. 158-174.

19. Canada, Sessional Papers, 1872, No. 10, Appendix Z, p. 152.

20. For text of negotiations, signatories, etc., see A. Morris, Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (Toronto, 1880).

21. Canada, Sessional Papers, 1892, No. 13, Pt. vi, List of Dominion Land Surveyors, 1872-1891.

22. E.g., G.T. Richardson, governor; A.J. Macintosh, deputy governor; J.R. Murray, managing director, D.S. McGivern, managing director, retail stores (Source: Financial Post Directory of Directors, 1971).

23. E.C. Morgan, "The Bell Farm," Saskatchewan History, XIX, 57.

24. Norman Macdonald, Canada. Immigration and Colonization, 1841-1903 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1966), p. 247.

25. W. Turrentine Jackson, The Enterprising Scot (Edinburgh: University Press, 1968), p. 299. For operations in Saskatchewan see Sask. Archives, Matador Land and Cattle Company records, 1905-1924.

26. Canada, Sessional Papers, 1875, No. 40, Appendix 40, p. 129.

27. Canada, Census of the Three Provisional Districts of the North-West Territories, 1884-5 (Ottawa, 1886).

28. Regina Directory for 1885 (Regina: Leader Steam Print, n.d.).

29. J.B. Hedges, Building the Canadian West (New York: Macmillan Company, 1939), pp. 85-87.

30. Earl G. Drake, Regina. The Queen City (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1955), p. 239.

31. Sask. Archives, S.H.S. files no. 2, 42, 44, 58.

32. James N. MacKinnon, A Short History of the Pioneer Scotch Settlers of St. Andrew's, Sask. (n.d., n.p.).

33. Kent Stuart, "Scottish Crofter Colony, Saltcoats, 1889-1904," Saskatchewan History, XXIV, 40-50.

34. Kay Parley, "Moffat, Assiniboia, North-West Territories," Saskatchewan History xx, 32-36.

35. Canada, Sessional Papers, 1905, No. 25, Pt. II.

36. Ibid., 1910, No. 25, Pt. II.

37. Sask. Archives, Department of Municipal Affairs, L.I.D. Branch, Northern Settlers Re-establishment and Relief files (e.g. Angus and Hugh Black, Saskatoon to Loon Lake; George Gordon, Langham to Paddock-wood; Walter Guthrie, Moose Jaw to Loon Lake, etc.)

38. Ian Finlay, The Highlands (London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1963), p. 79.

39. G. MacEwan, The Sodbusters (Toronto: Thos. Nelson and Sons, 1948), pp. 27-33.

40. Ibid., pp. 232-236.

41. Ibid., pp. 140-145.

42. MacEwan, Fifty Mighty Men, pp. 116-122.

43. MacEwan, The Sodbusters, pp. 66-72.

44. Sask. Archives, Clippings file: "76" Ranch.

45. Sheilagh S. Jameson, "The Era of the Big Ranches: The Romantic Period of Southern Alberta's History," unpublished ms., 1968, p. 7f. (Copy in Saskatchewan Archives)

46. MacEwan, The Sodbusters, pp. 53-59.

47. MacEwan, Fifty Mighty Men, pp. 308-314.

48. Morgan, op. cit.

49. MacEwan, The Sodbusters, pp. 20-26.

50. Sask. Archives, S.H.S. file no. 7, "James Bruce."

51. H.A. Innis, ed., The Diary of A.J. McPhail (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1940).

52. Hopkins Moorhouse, Deep Furrows (Toronto: George J. McLeod, 1918), pp. 103-107.

53. J.F. C. Wright, Prairie Progress (Saskatoon: Modern Press, 1956), pp. 16, 120.

54. H.G.L. Strange, A Short History of Prairie Agriculture (Winnipeg: Searle Grain Company, 1954), Ch. 10.

55. J.G McGregor, A History of Alberta (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1972), P. 153.

56. James Clinkskill, "Experiences of Starting and Conducting a Store in Saskatchewan," Saskatchewan History, xvii, pp. 24-30.

57. J.N. MacKinnon, Moosomin and Its Pioneers (Moosomin: World-Spectator, n.d.), pp. 6-7.

59. Vernon. Diamond Jubilee. 1892-1951 (Vernon: Vernon News Ltd., 1952), p. 5.

60. J.W. Morrow, Early History of the Medicine Hat Country (Medicine Hat: Val Marshall Printing, n.d.), p. 20.

61. Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba (Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Assn., 1971), p. 83.

62. Ibid., p. 83.

63. Ibid., p. 128.

64. Ibid., p. 142.

65. Bryce,p.359.

66. G Abrams, Prince Albert: The First Century (Saskatoon: Modern Press, 1966).

67. Ormsby, p. 357.

68. Article on MacMillan, Encyclopedia Canadiana.

69. Ormsby, p. 285.

70. J. McGregor, pp. 274-279.

71. L. Courville, "The Saskatchewan Progressives," unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, 1971, pp. 223-235.

72. Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, p. 78.

73. Gilbert Johnson, "James Moffat Douglas," Saskatchewan History, vii, pp. 47-51.

74. Moorhouse, p. 295.

75. Bryce,p. 422.

76. A.R. Turner, ed., "The Letters of P.G. Laurie," Saskatchewan History, xiv, pp. 41-63.

77. Ormsby, pp. 177.

78. Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, pp. 247-248.

79. Saskatchewan Curling Association Golden Jubilee, 1904-1945 (Regina: 1954), p. 32.

80. Bryce,p.430.

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