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The Canadian WestHome
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About the Exhibition

In the period covered by this exhibition  --  the years prior to the 1930s  --  the population of western Canada increased from less than a hundred thousand to over three million. Such an unprecedented influx was made possible only by drawing on a multitude of ordinary men, women, and children from across Europe. Their arrival on the western frontier dramatically changed the history of western Canada and the ethnic makeup of the country. This exhibition explores several aspects of European arrival and settlement in the Canadian West, and provides a glimpse of those people who helped forge the new society and bring the West into Confederation.

Scope of the Exhibition
A Word about Language

Reading List
Thematic Research Guides

Scope of the Exhibition

This exhibition does not attempt to be a rounded history of western Canada nor a chronicle of pioneer life. Instead, the exhibition concentrates on those aspects of the settlement process that are documented in the collections of the National Archives of Canada. The intent is to give a general impression of the nature, variety, and vastness of the records that relate to western Canada, and in doing so, show how these records might be used by researchers.

The exhibition also serves as a gateway to the large-scale digitization of selected holdings on the West that the National Archives has recently undertaken, and will undertake in the future. The National Archives of Canada is committed to providing public access to its collections through the World Wide Web. This exhibition, and the digitized archival fonds and series that are part of it, are an example of this commitment.

A Word about Language

Since the federal government played a key role in western settlement  --  that is, until the transfer of natural resources to the western provinces in the 1930s  --  a large component of this exhibition includes (but is not limited to) documents created by the federal agencies responsible for administering the settlement process and for setting its direction (the Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, and the Department of Immigration, for example). The majority of these documents are written in English, which was the working language of federal offices in the years before official bilingualism.


Curators: Jeffrey S. Murray
Janine Stingel
Irene Van Bavel
  Project Coordinators: Francois Guindon
Sheila Powell
  Project Managers: Jean-Stéphen Piché
Denise Rioux
  External Reviewers: Keith Bell, University of Saskatchewan
Frank J. Tough, University of Alberta
  Contributors: Donna Porter
Andrew Rodger
Derek Rushton
Joan Schwartz
Education Specialists: Sharon Cook, University of Ottawa
Michel Filion, University of Ottawa
Louise Gratton
  Web Site Design &
Imatics Inc.
Andy Coughlin
Marc C. Houle
Todd Liko
  Archival Descriptions: Diane Beattie
Judy Cummings
Suzanne Cyr
Andrew Dunnett
Judith Enright
Sarah Klotz
Diane Lalande
Velma Parker
Donna Porter
Joseph Sas
  Translation: Stéphane Bédard
Bernard Couture
Liliane Dombrowski
Diane Hallé
Sylvie Messier
  Editing: Hélène Bernier
Luc Carrière
Benoit Denis
Dave Matley
Hélène Séguin
Heather Thompson
Josée Trudel
  Scanning and Image
Murielle Gibeault
David Knox
Glenn Massey
Georga Whitehall
  Circulation of Documents: Greg McParlan

The Canadian West Project Team would like to thank the representatives of the Phillips family for granting permission to include some of the works of Walter J. Phillips in this exhibit.


We also gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose Canadian Cultural Online Program (CCOP) made this work possible.

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