Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ready-Made Farms and the Canadian Pacific Railway

At the turn of the last century, the Canadian Pacific Railway had a problem.

It had lots of land in southern Alberta, but it was hard to convince settlers to come to the arid, treeless area to buy it and start their new lives.

So in 1909 the CPR decided on a novel strategy: Ready-Made farms. Just show up and move in!

Settlers from Colorado arrive in Alberta.

I thought about the railway’s unique sales approach after a friend posted a photo of settlers from Colorado on their way to new ready-made homes and farms in southern Alberta in 1914.

It also brought back memories of visiting a replica ready-made barn in the rural district of Readymade, Alberta, near Coaldale, a couple of years ago.

The Readymade community hall.

Settlers who took the CPR up on its offer would find themselves in possession of up to 160 acres of land, fenced and ploughed; a house, shed and barn; and a drilled well and pump house.

The cost? Between $1,300 to $2,500, depending on the size of the land and house.

According to one report, between 1909 and 1919 the CPR developed 762 ready-made farms in 24 colonies of five to 122 farms.

A Ready-Made house and barn.

Very few ready-made buildings exist. One is on display at the Danish-Canadian National Museum in Spruceview, Alberta. A few abandoned structures can be found in the province, as well.

A restored Ready-Made house at the 
Danish-Canadian Museum.

Today, when automation is making it possible to have things made to order, it’s worth remembering that the CPR was doing something similar with its ready-made farms over 100 years ago.

More info, including house and barn plans, at the Archives Society of Alberta.

An abandoned Ready-Made barn near Kildady,
from West of the Fifth Meridian blog.

House plans.

Another house and barn.

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was: Can I move into the abandoned farmhouse? I'm a carpenter so I'm sure I could make it work.

    My second thought was to wonder what the previous inhabitants of this were thinking of these developments..