“The Richest Grain Lands in the West”

Grain Golden Champion, 1913

By the early 20th century, the settlement of the Prairie West was well underway, and the area around Champion was no exception. In 1911, the village relocated closer to the tracks of the newly-completed Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), connecting the people and resources of Champion to the rest of the country. New settlers were flooding into Southern Alberta, and the Champion Board of Trade was eager to entice these farmers, miners and entrepreneurs to make the Champion area their new home. To promote the area as a land of opportunity, the Board of Trade published Grain Golden Champion in 1913. “Of all the thriving towns and cities in Western Canada, destined to become the industrial centres of the future,” the pamphlet read, “none has established its position, or grown to such importance, in so brief a space of time, as Champion.”

As its name suggests, Grain Golden Champion was above all concerned with convincing settlers that the Champion district boasted the most abundant and productive agricultural lands in the “Last Great West.” Potential settlers were assured that the climate was mild, the soil was rich, and that any crop planted would do “exceptionally well.” Much was made of Champion’s status as a “Million Bushel Town,” having had shipped over one million bushels of wheat in 1911 with the promise of more than that in the years to come.

Besides farming, however, the pamphlet assured its worldwide audience that the district was “teeming with opportunities of every kind.” Cattle, poultry, hogs, and vegetables practically raised themselves on the rich lands around Champion, settlers were told. It was not only farmers who were in demand, however, but those with an entrepreunerial spirit and business acumen who could develop a “creamery, pork-packing plant, flour mill and flax mill,” along with a brick-making plant and a cement plant.

Mine developers were also encouraged to take advantage of the “inexhaustible” coal deposits in the Champion area, which were “far superior” to the Galt coal in the Lethbridge district. Coal mines represented an opportunity, as yet undeveloped, for an enterprising settler to discover “unlimited wealth.”

Champion was not the only district engaging in this sort of boosterism in the 1910s, however. The village had to compete with similar promotional campaigns and enticements from towns like Stettler, Vegreville, and Macleod, as well as several in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Despite hopes that Champion would develop into one of the “leading industrial centres of the West,” the population peaked at around 650 people. Nevertheless, Champion did indeed continue to thrive on the economic engines of agriculture and coal-mining.

Images courtesy of the University of Alberta’s Peel’s Prairie Provinces project.

To see the entire Grain Golden Champion pamphlet, go to http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/3957.html.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.