Settling Saskatchewan

21 August 2014

Settling Saskatchewan
by Alan B. Anderson
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Keith Foster
$39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-284-7

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? The evocative cover of Settling Saskatchewan – a photo of newly arrived immigrants crowding together on a railway siding – effectively conveys the theme of this book.

Author Alan Anderson covers the full gamut of ethnic settlement – starting with First Nations people and Métis, to English, French, German, Scandinavian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Asian – from early days to the present.

Some immigrant communities are well known, such as the English settlers of Cannington Manor and the Barr Colonists. Others, like the Patagonian Welsh from Argentina, are either unknown or forgotten. Pity. Their stories are worth telling.

Many ethnic minorities, such as the Scottish crofters at Saltcoats, Oklahoma Blacks near Maidstone, and Old Colony Mennonites, settled in blocs for security or ethnic cohesiveness. These pockets formed a patchwork pattern throughout the province.

Drawing on his research spanning four decades, Anderson packs a lot of very detailed data into his 485-page book. In addition to a list of sources at the end of each chapter, Settling Saskatchewan has endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

Although geared more for the academic community than a general readership, this book will appeal to anyone seeking information on their genealogy or community history. Anderson traces population trends and distribution of ethnic groups throughout the province, as well as examining their customs, traditions, and religious practices.

Settling Saskatchewan views the province as a patchwork quilt – composed of many pieces, but all combining to form one strong fabric. It’s this ethnic diversity that makes Saskatchewan the culturally rich haven it is today. Little wonder that the province’s motto is “From many peoples, strength.”


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