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Army Of Men Placed On Prairie Farms By Soldier Settlement
Saskatchewan Stands Second In The Dominion
In The Number Of Veteran Farmers With More Than 3,000

Regina Morning Leader
September 2, 1920. p.2

By C. W. Cavers, Soldier Settlement Board, Ottawa

The province of Saskatchewan holds a prominent place in the activities of the Soldier Settlement Board. It is second only to Alberta among the provinces of the Dominion in the amount of money that has been loaned by the Government to returned soldiers to assist them in establishing themselves on the land.

Up to the 19th of June, 4,095 loans had been approved by the Board for settlers in Saskatchewan and the total of commitments had reached the enormous sum of $16,363,585. Actually established and working their own farms are 3,251 men of the Canadian Overseas Militia Force. Of 11,231 applicants for the privileges of the Soldier Settlement Act, 9,943 have been qualified; and it is anticipated that a large proportion of this number finally will become established on the land, when they are able to locate and negotiate the purchase of farms of suitable productive quality.

It is too much to expect that all those who have been assisted by the Board will prove satisfactory. There have been some cases where the men have failed to demonstrate their ability in succeed as farmers and eventually to pay back the money advanced by the government for their re-establishment. In a number of cases this failure has been due to death or ill health on the part of the settler; in some to domestic infelicity, while other failures have been because of the fact that the farms selected have not yielded expected results. Where the Board discovers that a settler has not been located to the best advantage, it loses no time in effecting a re-adjustment, placing a settler of greater promise upon the land. These re-adjustments have been for the most part attended with little or no financial loss to the public.


Speaking generally, however, there is every expectation that the men who have been placed on farms by the Soldier Settlement Board in the province of Saskatchewan will ultimately succeed. Saskatchewan offers a very excellent field for this great experiment. It has considerable land of good quality yet to be developed. Taking advantage of the wide powers of the Act, the Soldier Settlement Board has made progress in the direction of bringing under cultivation large areas of desirable farm land which have been contained in Indian and Forest Reserves and also portions that had been held by Doukhobors. Many of these rich agricultural lands were during the past season made available for soldier settlement. In the case of the Indian Reserves they were purchased from the Indians at a valuation, divided into farm units and sold to returned soldiers at cost.

A portion of the Porcupine Forest Reserve suitable for agriculture was also made available for soldier settlement last year. The area will accommodate about 500 settlers, and on the opening day about 200 went in and established a camp. Since then a station has been built at Prairie River, and considerable work has been done in clearing the land and getting it ready for agricultural operations.

In addition to these large areas which are available for soldier settlement, the Board, disposed of to returned soldiers 10,000 acres of Doukhobor lands near Kamsck, and 27,000 acres of Hudson Bay, lands in various parts of the province. The development of these tracts as well as many acres of idle lands formerly owned by private individuals means a decided fillip to the expansion of our great West and increase of the country's resources. It means that thousands of young men who would have been compelled to seek employment in the cities, which are already overcrowded to the neglect of the agricultural interests of Canada will have become producers in the truest sense because of the extremely favorable terms of the Soldier Settlement Act.

The Board's records reveal many outstanding soldier settlers. Most of these boys have entered upon their new life with confidence and enthusiasm. Up to the 14th of June, 128 returned men have discharged in full their financial obligations to the Board, the figures being for all Canada. On the other hand, however, there are some who by reason of unfavorable conditions such as drought or wind storms may have to ask for some consideration when their bills become due. It has been the policy of the Board to refrain from settling men in the districts which are subject to visitations such as have been mentioned but even with these precautions isolated cases of crop failure from one cause or another are bound to result.


Saskatchewan has many instances of soldier settlers showing remarkable progress in the development of their properties. Here is the story of the success of two brothers, George R. and F. W. Laycock, each of whom took up a half-section under the Soldier Settlement Board at Browning, Sask. as late as May 1 this year. Though each is responsible to the Board for half of the purchase money for the 320 acres and the stock and equipment of the value of $3,630, they are working the half-section together.The land cost them $33 an acre and they have since been offered $55 an acre, showing that a fairly good buy was engineered for them by the Board. Between them they put in 300 acres. 130 of wheat, and 160 of oats, besides a small acreage of other crops.

The value of the crop on July 3 was somewhat problematical, but the opinion of their bankers was that their prospective receipts will be $17,000. Mr. George R. Laycock makes a more moderate estimate of $10,000 "because" he says, "while we have a 40-bushel crop in sight. I am allowing for the various antics of the Weather Man and Dame Fortune. I may say we will be pleased to receive even less, as we did not at the outset expect that we would get the value of our land in one crop. Nevertheless, you can understand that the prospect of being able to pay off practically all our indebtedness in one year is very pleasing to us, as I am sure it will be to you." Mr. Laycock, in writing the Board and expressing his appreciation of the courteous treatment he and his brother have received makes this observation: "There is one side to the settlement scheme that perhaps has not occurred to you. I refer to the standing and position enjoyed by those benefiting under the Act. We are not compelled to sue for numerous favors, and the fact that the government is backing us gives us a prestige that has been surprising."


The case of Andrew G. Gregga, Qu'Appelle Valley, south of Dubuc, may be mentioned in illustration of what can be done, providing the settler himself has the will to win and other conditions are right. Gregga settled in the spring of 1919 taking up a quarter-section. He put 90 acres in crop, and although 1919 was a poor year the 90 acres yielded 1,599 bushels of wheat the value of which was more than $3,000.... Without the aid of the Board he purchased a second quarter-section, and his revenue off that last year was about $3,000. He is a batchelor, and with the exception of one hired man, he had no help. About 50 acres of his land was covered with poplar and scrub. Last winter he cleared this, and broke the 50 acres this spring. To secure feed for his six horses, he managed to find time to assist a neighbor in his threshing operations, taking his pay in oats.

Another hard-working settler who is bound to succeed is Ingo Benson, of Churchbridge. Previous to the war he had a half-section of homestead land, and on demobilization he secured a loan from the Board amounting to $5,100, $2,500 of which cleared his property of encumbrances, and he expended $1,500 for stock and equipment and $1,000 for improvements. During the past year he erected house, stable, two granaries, car shed and milk house, and his present assets are valued at $12,300. He broke 80 acres, had 70 acres in crop, and 10 acres in summerfallow. Through the Board he purchased 13 cows and 12 calves. His revenue from the sale of cream is $50 a month. Another important source of revenue was 100 tons of hay, valued at $20 a ton.


C.P. Phillips is a most promising settler, located on a quarter-section at Windthorst. He had 80 acres broken last year -- 25 acres in wheat, 40 acres in oats, and 15 acres in summerfallow. He cut 425 bushels of wheat and 995 bushels of oats. The Board purchased for him four horses and 11 cattle, and he has acquired three horses and eight head of cattle, although he started in with practically no resources of his own. He cut 25 loads of hay. He has acquired a lease of an additional quarter-section of land, purchased the fencing and proposes to develop his live stock holdings. This is a most promising settler, with the same kind of chance that hundreds of others have in these western provinces.

Sergeant H. E. Banfield, located in the Lanigan district on a quarter-section, for which he paid $4,500. He sowed 120 acres in wheat this year. He is purchasing a dairy herd, and has a market in Saskatoon for all the milk he can sell at 45 cents a gallon. He is milking four cows now and disposing of his cream in Lanigan. This settler is thoroughly satisfied with his move to the farm. Previous to taking up land of his expert in connection with the Saskatoon office of the Soldier Settlement Board.


These cases might be multiplied. There, is good reason to believe that a very large percentage of these men -- all of whom have been selected with the greatest care -- will be able to handle their proposition in a manner satisfactory to themselves and to the Board. They receive the benefit of careful supervision by experts, who advise them in all their farm operations. The Board's system of supervision is working out most advantageously. This is very well illustrated by the manner in which returned soldiers came through last winter with loss of very few head of live stock, although feed conditions were abnormal, and there were very heavy losses throughout the whole of the West. A recent investigation by a Parliamentary Committee disclosed that soldier settlers actually lost fewer live stock than ordinary settlers, and this was attributed altogether to the constant and active work of the Board's supervisors who were able to assist men to procure feed at critical times or to dispose of horses and cattle at advantageous prices rather than carry there through the winter.

This one protection was worth many thousands of dollars to the proteges of the Board. In many other respects provision is made by the Board to save soldier settlers from financial loss.