Abstract: The prairie west of Canada was, nearing the turn of the twentieth century, considered to be empty, having not yet reached its assimilatory, and resource, economic, social or cultural potential. Many politicians, especially Clifford Sifton, sought to change this. Sifton eventually made Canada’s population increase a reality. He masterminded the most successful promotional campaign within Canada’s immigration policy to ever stretch the parameters of inclusion for enlarging the Canadian mosaic. The largest phenomenon of human migration to the Canadian prairie west was between 1896 and 1905. Sifton’s intercontinental and overseas promotional campaign became the magnet of attraction for newcomers eager to settle the prairie west. Although a great deal of work has been done by Canadian and American scholars on the topic of prairie west settlement and immigration history, none have incorporated an analysis of Clifford Sifton’s promotional campaign’s promotional literature, namely, the promotional booklets. This essay takes into consideration the history of prairie west settlement until 1896, shows the circumstances for favourable settlement in the prairie west during Sifton’s time as Minister of the Interior, and, more importantly, analytically unpacks two Federal Government booklets’ propaganda-like designs. It is within these booklets where pompous claims, pastoral narratives, first-person perspectives and romanticized conceptions showcase the acumen of the booklets’ authors. As for the structure of the booklets, they were meant to be an ‘easy sell’ not only tactically but surreptitiously as well. This acted as a turning point for prospective and desirable settlers to choose to live in the west. The booklet’s explicit use of propaganda techniques and rhetoric convinced people to buy into the incontestably lucrative agricultural opportunities and supposed charming lifestyle the prairie west offered.
Switzer, Joshua L.
"Attracting Newcomers to Canada’s Prairie West, 1896-1905: The Selling of the West and the Persuasiveness within the Government’s Promotional Booklets,"
Gettysburg Social Sciences Review: Vol. 5:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/gssr/vol5/iss1/4