Promoting settler ‘ready made’ farms: Shona Gourlay, ‘CPR’s Ready Made Farms’, Alberta History, 2019


Excerpt: As early as the late 1880s, CPR mounted various campaigns to entice settlers to the West. This included railway cars, such as Baggage Car 303 that visited communities in Canada and the United States with a special agricultural exhibition showing the prospects in western Canada. A similar program ran in England, with a Travelling Exhibition Van touring rural areas to spark interest in Canadian products, and to inspire emigration. In one year (1893?), the “van visited 513 communities, travelled more than 1,800 miles (2,896 kilometres), and was inspected by more than 1.7 million people. Similar campaigns were conducted throughout Europe.” […]

In addition to print advertisements, the CPR used motion pictures as part of its publicity campaign: “the development of motion pictures coincided with the development of active publicity campaigns by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company… In order to encourage immigration and settlement to western Canada, the company developed an extensive system of promotion which included the use of films. Railway filmmaking fell broadly into two categories, those which were designed with a specific intent to educate, inform, and persuade and those which were primarily intended as entertainment.”

The CPR undertook a special advertising campaign for ready made farms. Magazines such as Popular Mechanics contained ads telling people to ‘Get your Canadian home from the Canadian Pacific’ and the “Canadian Pacific offers you the finest land on earth for grain growing, cattle, hog, sheep and horse raising, dairying, poultry, vegetables, and general mixed farming…” The February 26, 1913 issue of Country Life contained an ad directed to British residents, stating that “Canadian Pacific ‘Ready Made’ farms offer to residents of Great Britain a means of settling in Western Canada with a minimum of discomfort, and insure the production of revenue from the investment in the shortest possible time.” The CPR also made presentations overseas.

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