PUBLIC VERSUS PRIVATE LAND
PROMOTION: THE WESTERN
CANADIAN IMMIGRATION
ASSOCIATION

H. Troper

Historians have frequently regarded western Canadian immigration and settlement organization as a cooperative duality—a cooperative, if sometimes strained, effort by public and private interests in the name of national development. A number of scholars have stressed the cement of common cause which bound public and private interests together, often emphasizing the role of a beneficent profit-making private sector. While Chester Martin, for example, attacks unscrupulous western land-company speculation, he makes the case that the integration of public and private settlement interests "and both with the wider interests of sound agriculture and sound transportation, was to become ... one of the characteristic features of Dominion Lands policy." 1 Private land companies "must be credited with exploits of colonization so resourceful and enterprising," Martin writes, "that they may be said to have set the vogue for successful land settlement in their day." 2

James B. Hedges, in his Building the Canadian West, extends this analysis one step further. He lauds the pivotal work of private land interests, especially the Canadian Pacific. "In a very real sense the railway and the government were," according to Hedges, "in partnership in the promotion of settlement in the West; had the Canadian Pacific withdrawn from the partnership, the Dominion effort would have collapsed." 3 More recent scholarship has emphasized the place of the public sector. Professor D. J. Hall has examined the leadership of Clifford Sifton in establishing and sustaining those policies which generated an atmosphere conducive to overall successful immigration and land settlement operations. 4 Karel Denis Bicha and the present author have, separately, emphasized the place of a revamped civil service in

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