Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building : an Anthropological History

Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building : an Anthropological History

Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building : an Anthropological History

Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building : an Anthropological History

Synopsis

This "anthropological history" tells the story of homesteading and community organization in the Canadian-American West through personal reminiscences and locally written histories. John W. Bennett and Seena B. Kohl interpret those stories through the lenses of history and social science, and they present a view of settlement experience as one phase of the evolving postfrontier society and culture of western North America.

Excerpt

Research on migration by demographers and sociologists has produced a technical vocabulary and theory that we avoid, since it is based on specialized mathematical analysis. Much of the theory is concerned with motivations for or causes of movement. We had no particular need to determine causes of the migration to the Canadian-American West since the data speak for themselves: the explanations of cause and motivation given by the writers of our source documents. The basic issues were the desire for land and personal autonomy, supplemented by inducements emanating from kin and community. And once the movement began, its momentum was sustained through processes like "chain migration," in which immigrants moved westward in a series of stages, using homes of friends and relatives as intermediate stopover points. They perpetuated the process by writing letters back home encouraging people to come out, and even sending prepaid tickets (see Macdonald and Macdonald 1964).

The assembling in one location of settlers from a par-

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