Canada's Most Wanted: Pioneer Women on the Western Prairies

Authors


  • *This article is a revised extract from my Master's thesis, which I had the privilege of completing under the supervision of Drs. Robert Stirling, Murray Knutttla and John Conway. I would also like to thank Drs. Susan McDaniel and Harvey Krahn for their suggestions in preparing this article. Finally, the insightful comments of the anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged. The manuscript of this article was submitted in October 1998 and accepted in November 1999.

Abstract

Cet article analyse les expériences des femmes pendant la colonisation des Prairies au Canada en mettant l'accent sur leur travail, sur leurs aptitudes et sur les capacites d'adaptation a l'environnement naturel et aux obstacles économiques auxquels ces femmes et leurs families se sont mesurés. Bien que les attitudes patriarcales domi-nantes, la législation et les principes économiques aient quelque peu occulté les contributions des femmes, les efforts qu'elles ont déployés en Saskatchewan illustrent la «souplesse» dont ont fait preuve les fermières dans l'accomplissement de tâches productives et non productives. L'article démontre que cette souplesse a constitué un facteur déterminant de la survie des fermes familiales et, par là, du succès de l'industrie du blé.

This article analyzes women's experiences during the settlement of the western prairie region of Canada. Attention is placed on their labour, skills and ability to adapt to the natural environment and the economic obstacles that they and their families encountered. While prevailing patriarchal attitudes, legislation and economic principles obscured women's contributions, the efforts of women in Saskatchewan are used to highlight the “flexibility” exhibited by farm women in performing productive and non-productive labour. It is argued that this flexibility was critical to the survival of family farms, and thus to the success of the wheat economy.

Ancillary