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Agriculture This Week - Agriculture a key to Canada's history

Canada is about to officially mark its 150th anniversary. It is, of course, a significant milestone for our country.

Canada is about to officially mark its 150th anniversary.
It is, of course, a significant milestone for our country.
Now some might wonder what the anniversary has to do with agriculture, but the existence of this country owes much to the farm sector.
The earliest people in the massive area which is now Canada arrived here to live off the land.
Then the first Europeans came here largely in search of cod and furs and timber.
But as the Europeans spread further and further west they came upon thousands of acres of prairie, and quickly realized it was an area ideally suited to growing grain.
That realization led to a mass migration of people from a wide range of countries, drawn by the prospect of being allowed to homestead 160-acres of land.
It was not an easy existence as the prairie shod had to be tamed to grow grain.
As immigration brought more and more they spread into areas where the land was covered with trees. I can recall my grandfather relating how, arriving from England he was faced with clearing the land he settled on. He would cut trees, with axe, saw and horses, until his cash ran short. He would then seek employment to replenish his bank account. The only jobs cutting more trees for other settlers who had enough money to hire help.
The last 40-acres on the quarter section was aided by machine, but the rest was cleared by hand.
The thought of arriving anyplace in the middle of the prairies from a country in Europe and seeing 160-acres of untouched land as a future still astounds me.
Yet they faced the backbreaking labour, and made a home for themselves and their families, which were far larger than those commonly seen today. That 160-acres feeding the family and generating the income to raise the next generation.
In the process the Canadian Prairies earned a reputation for being ‘The Bread Basket of the World’ for its ability to grow and export high quality wheat.
Out of that amazing spirit came the generation which build upon the barest foundations to create a country.
In farming Canada has remained a leader. Canola being a major crop developed here, air seeding technology refined and built here, and the concepts of zero-till farming accepted, adapted and refined, being examples of how farming helped build the nation.
Today, Canada, as it celebrates 150 years, is a country of diversity in terms of economy; oil and gas, mining, forestry, fishing, and technology, but farming remains an integral part of the mix.
So as we pause to celebrate 150-years, we should also recognize the part farming has played in that history, and how critical it will remain as the world needs fed in the 150-years ahead.
Calvin Daniels is editor with Yorkton This Week.