By the early-twentieth century, western Canada
had developed a distinctive regional identity
based not only on the Prairie landscape but on
its emerging urban centres. Concerned about the
social ills which often accompanied urbanism,
western urban reformers, following the example
of the "city beautiful" movement in
the United States and Europe, strove to make growing
cities like Winnipeg
into humane and beautiful urban environments.
Yet it was the open expanses of the Prairies
that continued to spark the imagination of western
artists who created a regional
art that reflected their pastoral surroundings.
Other western artists were intrigued by the modernism
of urban life and created city attractions like
midways and vaudeville
Although several immigrant
groups settled in the West and helped shape
its culture and identity, one of the most numerous
and influential was the Ukrainians.
Their strong familial, religious, and social ties
ensured the establishment of a dual Ukrainian-Canadian
identity that extended to their children's
education. At times more-established westerners
felt threatened by the evolving multicultural,
polyglot nature of the region and sought to deal
with what they perceived as an "immigrant
invasion." Even the provincial governments
in the West were publicly ambivalent about the
of immigrants in the early-twentieth century.
For most arrivals in the West, however, they
were concerned simply with establishing themselves
and their families in a new environment. For those
who arrived alone, the challenges were greater,
especially for women
who desired to become agricultural settlers. Not
all arrivals found work or succeeded at agriculture,
and with the economic
depression of 1913-1915 many women and men
found themselves unemployed.
By the early decades of the twentieth century,
western Canada was emerging as a unique region
and society. The countryside, the cities, and
the people had transformed the West into a distinctive
culture, one that would continue to develop in
the following decades.
Western Settlement and Steam Movies
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